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Donovan leads Wisconsin to record-tying win

Nov 18, 2006 - 8:06 PM MADISON, Wisconsin (Ticker) - Wisconsin made coach Bret Bielema sweat a bit before earning him a record-tying victory.

Making his second start in place of the injured John Stocco, Tyler Donovan threw for 308 yards and two touchdowns as the 12th-ranked Badgers won an 11th game for just the second time in school history with a 35-3 triumph over Buffalo.

Playing their first season under Bielema, the Badgers (11-1) tied the single-season victory mark of Barry Alvarez's 1998 squad, but they played poorly for much of the first half.

"It means a great deal to our staff, our team and our program," Bielema said. "I realized there are only four teams in the country that have won more than nine games in the last four years and we were able to do that. What happens in college football is a wild, wild world out there and anything can happen.

"We put ourselves in a position to be 11-1 and finish as strong as anybody in the country. We did it with a backup quarterback two weeks in a row. We are a very good football team that deserves as big of a venue as we can get. My guess is wherever we go, there are going to be a lot of Wisconsin fans. It will be a lot of fun."

Taylor Mehlhaff missed a field goal and had another blocked in the first quarter for the Badgers, who were in danger of seeing their 7-3 lead disappear when the Bulls had 1st-and-goal at the 3 late in the half. But Buffalo was unable to punch the ball into the end zone, and Adam Tanalski hooked a 25-yard field-goal attempt wide left with 2:37 to play before the break.

Fired up by their defensive stand, the Badgers quickly marched down the field and opened a 14-3 advantage on a three-yard run by P.J. Hill. Two plays later, quarterback Tony Paoli lost a fumble near midfield, and Donovan gave the Badgers a 21-3 halftime cushion with a 35-yard strike to Luke Swan.

Donovan completed 16-of-26 passes with one interception.

"John (Stocco) did get in there and take some reps, but it was limited, so we thought that Tyler (Donovan) gave us our best option," Bielema said. "He again surprised a few people with what he was able to accomplish out there today. It's just another symbol of a team that believes in one another. The way they talk and communicate with each another, it puts them in position to have success."

Paoli went just 6-of-23 for 107 yards with an interception for the Bulls (2-9), who also are playing for a new coach this year, Turner Gill.

"Our guys gave a great effort today," Gill said. "Wisconsin has a great football team, and I don't want to take anything away from them. Their offense, defense and special teams all did a great job. Coach Bielema has done a great job with this program."

The teams were meeting for the first time.






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