Bat­tle with Brees a mem­o­rable one

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - SPORTS - JEFF POTRYKUS

MADI­SON – Nearly two decades later, the num­bers still ap­pear to be the prod­uct of a video game rather than a Big Ten game.

“It was a big game,” said Ross Kolodziej, Wis­con­sin’s head strength and con­di­tion­ing coach for foot­ball. “Drew Brees … you had all the mak­ings of an epic col­lege foot­ball game.”

Kolodziej was a ju­nior de­fen­sive line­man when UW hosted Pur­due on Oct. 10, 1998.

With UW (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) pre­par­ing to host Pur­due (3-2, 1-1) on Satur­day, Kolodziej and some of his team­mates took a few min­utes to look back on the ’98 bat­tle.

He still re­calls UW pre­vail­ing, 31-24, de­spite Brees com­plet­ing 55 of 83 passes for 494 yards and the Boil­er­mak­ers win­ning the yardage bat­tle, 570-229.

“It was just a long night of frus­trat­ing foot­ball be­cause your op­por­tu­nity to make an im­pact is min­i­mized,” said Kolodziej, not­ing Brees used short drops and quick passes to avoid get­ting sacked. “You’ve just got to get your hands up. And they were just sling­ing it. It was ridicu­lous.

“Ob­vi­ously you re­spected Drew and what they were about, but at the same time it was like, ‘Just line up and let’s play foot­ball.’ ”

Brees com­pleted passes to 10 re­ceivers, but the bulk went to Ran­dall Lane (18 catches, 178 yards) and Chris Daniels (14-131-2 TDs).

Brees wasn’t sacked once.

UW quar­ter­back Mike Sa­muel, by con­trast, com­pleted 5 of 10 passes for 44 yards. He was sacked five times.

So how did UW pre­vail?

Sa­muel rushed 20 times for 58 yards and two touch­downs, Ron Dayne rushed 33 times for 127 yards and a touch­down and UW in­ter­cepted four passes.

The big­gest theft be­longed to cor­ner­back Ja­mar Fletcher, who re­turned the in­ter­cep­tion 52 yards for a touch­down with 1 minute 10 sec­onds left in the third quar­ter to break a 17-17 tie.

A few min­utes later, “Jump Around” made its de­but and the sta­dium was shak­ing.

“We had a beyond phe­nom­e­nal de­fense that, one, got us out of a lot of games and, two, got us ahead so we could be com­fort­able in a lot of games,” said Bill Fer­rario, a red­shirt ju­nior guard in 1998. “That year … we were a good O-Line. But we used to sit on the bench and joke around that some­one is go­ing to pick one off and run it back for six at some point.

“That was our men­tal­ity. Sure enough in that game, (Fletch) picked it off and ran it back for a touch­down. You take that one play out of the game and it might have been a to­tally dif­fer­ent out­come.”

Dayne added a 1-yard touch­down run with 7:38 left and UW with­stood a touch­down in the fi­nal minute.

UW deputy ath­letic di­rec­tor Chris McIn­tosh was a red­shirt ju­nior left tackle on the ’98 team.

Asked what it would have been like to pass­block for 83 at­tempts, McIn­tosh laughed. Then­head coach Barry Al­varez would never have al­lowed such a game plan.

“That would be the best in­di­ca­tion that we’ve of­fi­cially en­tered the twi­light zone if that had taken place here,” McIn­tosh said.

“I can’t re­late at all. It is so counter to our strat­egy, our phi­los­o­phy.”


John Favret and Wis­con­sin's de­fense with­stood 83 pass at­tempts by Pur­due’s Drew Brees to win, 31-24, in a game played Oct. 10, 1998, at Camp Ran­dall Sta­dium.

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