Dairyland Madness: Top 2000s performances – Badgers Region

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 06: Frank Kaminsky #44 of the Wisconsin Badgers reacts after a play in the second half against the Duke Blue Devils during the NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 6, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 06: Frank Kaminsky #44 of the Wisconsin Badgers reacts after a play in the second half against the Duke Blue Devils during the NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 6, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

The final region in Dairyland Madness is the Wisconsin Badgers. Both the football and basketball teams are represented in this region of the bracket and that makes for some crazy matchups.

The Wisconsin Badgers have had plenty of success and great players on both their football and basketball teams over the past 20 years. So many great performances that not even the Watt brothers or Russell Wilson could crack the top 16 performances. There are tons of great performances to look at, and things are about to get wild in Dairyland Madness. I did my best to rank these performances, but I’m expecting upsets, landslides, close races, and everything in between.

Is scoring 40 points better than 200 yards rushing? Is rushing for five touchdowns more impressive than a clutch tournament performance to keep their team alive? Who knows. You decide with your votes.

What I do know is that it’s going to be madness. Only you can decide who moves on to the next round, so make sure to head over to Twitter once you’re done reading and make your voice heard. And there will also be a link to the thread of polls at the end of the article where you can vote as well.

So without further ado, let’s get into the wackiest region of the bracket.

#1 Melvin Gordon 404 yards 4 TDs 2014 vs. #16 Scott Tolzien 240 yards 5 total TDs

Getting the top seed is an eye-popping game from Melvin Gordon. Big games were nothing out-of-the-ordinary for him, but this day was amazing, even by his standards. He ran wild for 404 yards on only 25 carries, averaging 16.3 yards per carry. He also hit the end zone four times as the Badgers won big over Nebraska.

Scott Tolzien got a bad draw here, having to face Gordon in the first round. Unfortunately, 240 yards passing just isn’t enough to warrant a higher seed. His four touchdowns in the air and one on the ground did make him a lock for this list, though. All of this was enough to score a much-needed 45-24 win over Michigan.

#8 Brian Calhoun 258 yards 5 TDs 2005 vs. #9 Sam Dekker 27 points 2015 Elite Eight

Brian Calhoun’s game to open the season in 2005 was an absolute workhorse job. He carried the ball 43 times to grind out the win for Wisconsin. His five touchdowns included two huge scores in the second half to break a game open that was tied at halftime as the Badgers had no answer for the Bowling Green passing attack and Omar Jacobs who went for 458 yards and 5 touchdowns.

The magical Wisconsin Badgers’ 2015 NCAA tournament run would have never happened if it weren’t for Sam Dekker and his great play beside Frank Kaminsky. His best game was in the Elite Eight in a tough battle against Arizona. He scored 27 points on a very efficient 8-11 from the field and 5-6 on threes. In a game where only six Badgers scored and they were down at halftime, he carried the load offensively and got them to the Final Four.

#4 Jim Sorgi +Lee Evans connection 258 yards 5 TDs  2003 vs. #13 Ethan Happ triple-double 2019

Possibly the greatest Wisconsin Badgers’ passing performance in recent history was on a day when Sorgi only threw the ball 24 times. He was electric on those attempts as he averaged 15.8 yards per attempt, totaling 380 yards, and threw for five touchdowns, all to Lee Evans. Also, current Badgers’ defensive coordinator, Jim Leonard had an interception in the game.

Ethan Happ had two triple-doubles in his final season at Wisconsin, so I took the more impressive of the two, the one that he had in conference play. He totaled 13 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists. He also got it done on the defensive end, adding two blocks and two steals to an impressive all-around day.

#5 Alando Tucker 32 points against undefeated Pitt 2006 vs. #12 Montee Ball 247 yards 3 TDs 2012

Some great performances are all about stats, and some are more about the magnitude of the game. This one is more about the magnitude than stats alone. Don’t get me wrong, 32 points is a great game, but 32 points to beat an undefeated #2 ranked team is one to remember. That’s exactly what Tucker did, adding 10 rebounds to his great performance, as the near-capacity crowd roared at the Kohl Center.

Badger running backs love seeing Purdue on the schedule. Montee Ball was no exception and had the best game of his fantastic college career against them in 2012. He ran for 247 yards and 3 TDs and could’ve had even more if Wisconsin hadn’t had a huge lead, letting James White and Melvin Gordon take over for most of the fourth quarter. Ball also added a 14-yard reception.

#3 Jonathan Taylor 321 yards 3 TDs 2018 vs. #14 Jared Abbrederis 10 rec, 207 yards, 1 TD 2013

What was that I just said about Wisconsin Badgers’ running backs and Purdue? Ah, yes they love it and Jonathan Taylor is the latest installment of dominance against them. This game was a fight until the end and went into three overtimes. Jonathan Taylor didn’t let it get any further as he ended it with a 17-yard touchdown, his third of the day, winning it for the Badgers after the defense only allowed a field goal.

Jared Abbrederis is one of the best receivers that the Badgers have seen in the last 20 years. His years here were especially impressive because of the quarterbacks that he had to catch passes from. In this particular instance, he caught ten balls from Joel Stave as Wisconsin nearly knocked off Ohio State, but the running game only totaled 104 yards and couldn’t quite win it. Abbrederis kept them in the game all night with big catches and it would have been a much uglier result without his greatness.

#6 Michael Bennett 293 yards 2 TDs 2000 vs. #11 Frank Kaminsky 20 points against undefeated Kentucky 2015

Earlier I talked about Brian Calhoun’s workhorse performance, with 43 carries. This day for Michael Bennett went a step above. He carried the ball an insane 48 times and had a total of 51 touches with 3 receptions. This was one of the greatest workhorse performances in modern football history. It seems the entire gameplan was to turn around and hand the ball to Bennett, and it worked as the Badgers scored 44 points, but the defense failed them and they fell 44-47 to Northwestern.

This Kaminsky game is easily the most statistically underwhelming game in the bracket. So why is it an 11 seed? Because it was the biggest win that Wisconsin Badgers’ basketball has had in a very long time. Facing an undefeated Kentucky team in the Final Four and an intimidating foursome of big men rotating in and out, headlined by the eventual number one overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns, Kaminsky gutted out 37 minutes and 20 points, while only taking 11 shots.

#7 Jordan Taylor 39 points 2011 vs. #10 Chris Borland 11 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 2 FF, INT 2011

Against Indiana in 2006, Jordan Taylor put on one of the best scoring displays that the Wisconsin Badgers have ever seen. He dropped in 39 points on an efficient 11-19 from the field, 7-8 from three-point range, and a perfect 10 for 10 from the free-throw line. The Badgers were only up by four at half time but managed to open up a lead in the second half, thanks to Taylor, and won by 10.

This defensive outburst by Chris Borland takes the cake for any Badger in the past 20 years. He was all over the field and had 11 tackles, 3.5 of them for loss. He didn’t just stop there, though. He also forced three total turnovers, grabbing an interception and forcing two fumbles, while knocking away two passes. He did all of this while probably not even playing in the fourth quarter as the Badgers won 62-17.

#2 Kaminsky 43 points 2013 vs #15 James White 205 yards 1 TD 2013

Earlier, there was a Kaminsky performance mostly about leading the team to a huge win. This isn’t that. This is straight-up statistical greatness. Kaminsky’s 43 points were a school record and he did it on a surgical 16-19 shooting from the field. He also was a perfect 6-6 from long-range and added eight rebounds to the impressive scoring display.

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James White’s 205 yards were part of a great running performance by the entire Wisconsin offense as the rushing attack as a whole totaled a ridiculous 554 yards and six touchdowns. White led the charge, of course, starting the scoring with a 93-yard touchdown just over a minute into the game. He gave way to Melvin Gordon and Cory Clement for most of the second half, and still managed to get over the 200-yard mark. That’s a performance worth remembering.