As the game clock hit zero to end Wisconsin's 45-24 rout of Michigan Saturday, senior defensive end O'Brien Schofield could finally breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate the victory.
With last year's painful 27-25 loss fresh in their minds, Schofield and the Wisconsin defense shut down the Wolverine offense in the second half, holding Michigan to just seven points and 106 total yards to assure fans a miracle comeback like last year's was out of the question.
""Anytime you can beat Michigan it feels good,"" Schofield said. ""But especially after what happened last year and the way we came out in the second half on fire, the offense was just making some really long drives and putting points on the board, and that meant a lot for our defense.""
Senior tight end Garrett Graham got Senior Day started with a bang on Wisconsin's first possession of the game, catching a 22-yard touchdown to wrap up an 80-yard drive that took just over two minutes. But Michigan nearly matched Wisconsin score for score in the first two quarters, and the Badgers held onto a 21-17 lead at halftime.
In the second half, however, sophomore running back John Clay gave the Wolverines a full dose of Wisconsin football.
Clay eclipsed 1,000 yards for the season and finished the game with a touchdown and 151 rush yards, 109 of which came in the second half as Clay pounded away at a laboring Michigan defense. But after the game, Clay wasn't ready to take all the credit for such a big accomplishment.
""I give it all up to the offensive linemen,"" Clay said. ""They've been working for me, and so I'm going to keep working for them for this whole year.""
Clay was one of many stars for the Wisconsin offense Saturday. Junior quarterback Scott Tolzien showed the poise and patience in the pocket that helped him find success early in the season and finished with 240 yards passing and a career-high five touchdowns, four of which came through the air.
Two of those touchdown passes were caught by sophomore wide receiver Nick Toon, who followed up a career day last week at Indiana with five catches for 98 yards to help further cement his status as a rising star in the Wisconsin offense.
Toon's second touchdown catch was particularly impressive, as it came with Michigan cornerback Donovan Warren dragging on the front of his jersey in what was an easy pass interference call for the referees.
""I think [Toon] was excited to get out there and prove that last week just wasn't a fluke,"" head coach Bret Bielema said. ""It's so good for him to have success because he has worked so hard to get there, and it's one thing to work but its better to reap the [rewards] because of it, and that's what's happened.""
Wisconsin has now beaten Michigan in three straight games at Camp Randall, and the 45 points scored Saturday are the most the Badgers have ever scored against Michigan.
While vengeance was a motivating factor throughout the week, Tolzien said sending the seniors out with an important Big Ten win in their final home game was the main objective heading into Saturday.
""It was awesome because the seniors mean a lot to us this year,"" Tolzien said. ""And it was good to get another win, not to get revenge or anything like that, but just to get another Big Ten win.""