MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The heavily-favored Wisconsin Badgers survived a 4th quarter rally by Northern Iowa to win the 2012 season opener at Camp Randall Saturday 26-21.
Montee Ball rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown in the victory, while transfer quarterback Danny O’Brien connected on 19-of-23 passes for 219 yards and two scores.
The Panthers came into the game as one of the best teams in the nation among FCS schools and they showed the big Wisconsin crowd why.
It took the big hand of junior defensive lineman Ethan Hemer tipping a 4th down pass to clinch the win. Northern Iowa was facing a 4th-and-1 in Badger territory at the time.
The Panthers rallied behind their own quarterback, Sawyer Kollmorgen, who passed for 265 yards.
They had trailed 26-7 when Kollmorgen hit wideout David Johnson on 4th quarter scoring passes of 55 and 31 yards. Northern Iowa was at the Badger 41 when Kollmorgen’s passed was knocked away.
Jared Abbrederis caught six passes for the Badgers, good for 84 yards and two scores.
The Badgers defense did stop Northern Iowa’s ground game cold, holding the visitors to 41 yards rushing. The Panthers hadn’t moved the ball past the midfield stripe until less than four-and-a-half minutes remained in the 4th quarter.
The 12th-ranked Badgers travel to Oregon State for a late afternoon non-conference game next Saturday.