MADISON In the week leading up to Saturday”s game, Badgers” cornerback Mike Echols convinced coach Barry Alvarez to allow him to cover wide receiver Marquise Walker exclusively.
On Saturday, Echols lived up to his own billing allowing Walker to catch just four balls for 14 yards. It was Walker”s worst performance all season, he came into the game averaging over 90 yards per game.
Echols” only slip-up was a pass interference call inside the Wisconsin five-yard line, which led to Michigan”s only offensive touchdown of the game.
The senior cornerback led an outstanding Badgers” secondary with two pass deflections. Wisconsin limited the Wolverines to 58 yards of passing. Michigan had averaged over 200 yards of passing coming into the game.
“I couldn”t imagine (Wisconsin) playing any better,” Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez said.
Walker aided Echols by dropping three passes during the game. His most outstanding play did not come on a reception, but on a one-handed punt block in the third quarter.
Walker, who was a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist, did not make the cut for the three finalists, which were announced Friday. The three finalists are Wisconsin”s Lee Evans, Florida”s Jabar Gaffney and Louisiana State”s Josh Reed. The winner will be announced on Dec. 4.
Birthday Boys: Celebrating birthdays this weekend were for the Wolverines were kicker Hayden Epstein, safety Cato June and cornerback Brandon Williams, each of whom had a significant impact in the game.
June finished the game with three solo tackles and helped the Michigan secondary to one of its best games of the season. The Wolverines allowed just 133 yards in the air.
Williams” heads-up play in the game”s waning moments allowed Epstein to kick the game winner with 10 seconds remaining on the clock.
Epstein ran down the field to pat Williams on the back and wasn”t ready to kick the field goal.
“I sprinted down there to give (Williams) a hug and congratulate him and I see everyone on the sideline yelling, “field goal!” and I”m thinking, “No.”” Epstein said.
Epstein was 2-for-3 on field goals for the game, missing a 46-yard kick and making from distances of 25 and 31 yards.
The bizarre finish to give Michigan the win was enough of a birthday present for the trio.
“That”s enough. It”s too much for one day,” Williams said.
Wanna Be like Buddy Lee (Evans): In a day with limited offense, Wisconsin”s Lee Evans broke former Badger Al Toon”s all-time receiving yardage record with 2,104 yards. Toon had 2,103 yards.
Against the Wolverines, Evans caught three passes for 31 yards.
In addition to the yardage record, it was Evans” 24th consecutive game with a reception, which also sets new Wisconsin record.
Evans currently leads the Big Ten in receiving yardage with 1,394 yards and is tied with Walker for first in receptions. He also has scored nine touchdowns this season.
After the game, Evans, a junior, announced that he would return for his senior season, despite having such a stellar season.
“I”ll be back, definitely. That”s not even a question,” Evans said.