ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -Arkansas’ Darren McFadden broke free on his first carry and raced into the Wisconsin secondary. But defensive back Jack Ikegwuonu did what few players have – he ran down McFadden at the 9-yard line.
That summed up the Capital One Bowl for sixth-ranked Wisconsin. With its running game stifled and its quarterback under constant pressure, the Badgers did just enough to hold off No. 12 Arkansas 17-14 Monday.
John Stocco threw two first-half touchdown passes and Wisconsin survived despite being held to minus-5 yards rushing. The Badgers (12-1) held McFadden, the Heisman Trophy runner-up, to 89 yards on the ground, and the Razorbacks (10-4) couldn’t overcome an undisciplined, mistake-filled performance.
Wisconsin won 12 games in a season for the first time and finished with a nine-game winning streak, although this was the Badgers’ first win over a ranked team. Wisconsin now has a chance to finish the season in the top five, quite a reward for a team overshadowed by Big Ten rivals Ohio State and Michigan.
McFadden’s 45-yard run gave the Razorbacks the ball inside the Wisconsin 10 on the game’s first series, but Arkansas came away with no points when Jeremy Davis missed a 30-yard field goal.
Taylor Mehlhaff opened the scoring for the Badgers with a 52-yard field goal, a career long and a Capital One Bowl record. Felix Jones answered quickly for Arkansas with a 76-yard touchdown run.
Stocco threw touchdown passes of 22 yards to Paul Hubbard and 13 yards to Travis Beckum, giving the Badgers a 17-7 halftime lead. Jones, who quietly surpassed 1,000 yards this season alongside McFadden, made it 17-14 on a 12-yard run in the fourth.
Jones finished with a career-high 150 yards on 14 carries, outplaying McFadden and Wisconsin’s P.J. Hill, two 1,500-yard rushers. Hill ran for 36 yards on 19 carries.
Most of the second half was played in Wisconsin territory, but Arkansas couldn’t capitalize. The Razorbacks finished with 12 penalties for 123 yards.
Stocco, the game’s most valuable player, went 14-of-34 for 206 yards with two interceptions. That was more passing production than Arkansas could manage. The Razorbacks stuck with their plan to start Casey Dick at quarterback and bring in freshman Mitch Mustain for the third series. That was Mustain’s only appearance of the first half, although he returned for a bit in the second.
Dick went 9-of-21 for 98 yards with an interception. Mustain was 5-of-10 for 41 yards with an interception.
Arkansas finished with three straight losses after winning 10 in a row.
The Razorbacks appeared to make a big play on special teams in the second quarter when Darius Vinnett blocked Ken DeBauche’s punt. But DeBauche was able to pick up the ball and throw for a first down. The play was negated by an ineligible man downfield penalty, but Wisconsin got to punt again – costing Arkansas about 50 yards of field position.