Wisconsin 35

(1-0, 1-0 away)

Bowling Green 14

(0-1, 0-1 home)

Coverage: GamePlan

7:00 PM ET, September 2, 2006

1 2 3 4 T
WIS 7 14 7 735
BGSU 7 0 7 014

Top Performers

Passing: J. Stocco (WIS) - 124 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: F. Barnes (BGSU) - 29 CAR, 158 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: T. Beckum (WIS) - 3 REC, 49 YDS

Wisconsin waltzes past Bowling Green to kick off post-Alvarez era

CLEVELAND (AP) -- John Stocco threw a touchdown pass and sneaked for a score, leading Wisconsin to a 35-14 win over Bowling Green in Bret Bielema's debut as Badgers coach on Saturday night.

Redshirt freshman P.J. Hill, a bruising 242-pounder in the Ron Dayne mold, had 130 yards on 22 carries and scored a late TD for Wisconsin, playing its first game since 1990 without coach Barry Alvarez on the sideline.

The Badgers didn't look much different with Bielema in charge.

Stocco, slowed recently by a knee injury, finished an efficient 9-of-15 for 124 yards, and Hill put Bowling Green away with a 10-yard run with 5:19 left, taking shots from six Falcons defenders on his way to the end zone.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Freddie Barnes was most of Bowling Green's offense. He ran for 158 yards -- a school record for a QB -- and two TDs.

The 36-year-old Bielema has some big cleats to fill at Wisconsin.

Now the school's athletic director, Alvarez transformed the Badgers from Big 10 also-ran into a perennial power, posting a 118-73-4 record and leading the club to three conference titles and three Rose Bowl wins.

Bielema was Alvarez's defensive coordinator the past two seasons, taking took over the Wisconsin program from his former and current boss following last season's win over Auburn in the Captial One Bowl.

The team he inherited doesn't have the offensive firepower of last year's squad as running back Brian Calhoun was among six Badgers taken in the NFL draft. But other Badger staples remain: Stocco, a massive offensive line and a bruising, low-risk defense.

A fifth-year senior, Stocco recently underwent minor knee surgery and missed two weeks of training camp. His playing status was a game-time decision, but he was mobile and accurate all night.

After Bowling Green pulled within 21-14 on Barnes' 2-yard scoring run in the third quarter, Stocco guided the Badgers on a 75-yard drive, completing a 4-yard TD pass to fullback Bill Rentmeester.

Barnes was only supposed to be keeping the seat warm for starter Anthony Turner, who won the job in the spring but was serving a one-game suspension for marijuana possession. But Barnes' performance may cause BG coach Gregg Brandon to reconsider placing Turner back in the starting lineup.

Ben Strickland's 33-yard punt return set up Stocco's 1-yard plunge with 17 seconds left in the second quarter, giving the Badgers a 21-7 lead at the half.

Wisconsin's special teams put the Badgers up 14-7 in the second quarter.

After Bowling Green stopped Wisconsin on fourth down at the 4-yard line, the Badgers' defense pinned the Falcons deep, forcing a punt from near the goal line. Linebacker Jonathan Casillas then slipped through BG's spread-block formation, snuffed freshman Alonso Rojas' kick and recovered it in the end zone.

Bowling Green took the opening kickoff, and with Barnes freezing Badger linebackers with fakes inside, the Falcons drove 80 yards and took a 7-0 lead when Barnes darted through the middle from the 21.

The Badgers, who beat Bowling Green 56-42 in their home opener last season, responded on their first possession as Dywon Rowan scored on a 7-yard run to tie it 7-7.