Mark Dantonio isn't the only Big Ten coach to roll the dice today. Meanwhile, Les Miles has some company when it comes to poor clock management.
Dantonio's fake punt in the Northwestern game paled in comparison to what Bret Bielema just did to his alma mater. Down 30-24 and facing fourth-and-4 from its own 26-yard line, Wisconsin called a fake punt that no one expected and Brad Nortman rumbled for 17 yards. The clutch plays weren't done yet, though, as Scott Tolzien found Jacob Pedersen to convert a third-and-5 and hit Montee Ball on a 7-yard completion on fourth-and-5.
Iowa's Ricky Stanzi is known as the Big Ten's most clutch quarterback, but Tolzien is gaining on No. 12 after today. With freshman James White ailing, Ball stepped up in a huge way with two 8-yard runs, the second a powerful push across the goal line.
Given Stanzi's rep, Ball's touchdown appeared to come far too soon, and my prediction of a 2-point Iowa win on a last-second Mike Meyer field goal began to look good. But Iowa really botched the final 1:06, especially when it didn't spike the ball on first-and-10 from the Wisconsin 39-yard line. Burning the last timeout really cost Iowa, and Kirk Ferentz and Ken O'Keefe have some explaining to do after Stanzi seemed ready to spike the ball, the right move.
Very Les Miles of Iowa, which fell 31-30.
What a win for Bielema, who now has beaten an elite team at home and on the road. The Badgers found a way despite two of their main playmakers -- White and Lance Kendricks -- in street clothes with injuries.
Wisconsin still needs Michigan State to lose twice to surpass the Spartans in the Big Ten standings, but the Badgers' remaining stretch after a bye week (at Purdue, vs. Indiana, at Michigan, vs. Northwestern) is very manageable. Michigan State, meanwhile, must survive next week's trip to Iowa City.
The Big Ten race continues to get more and more interesting.