Without Stocco, one-loss Wisconsin still holds off Iowa

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Anyone who thinks there are only two standout teams in the Big Ten might want to take a closer look at No. 16 Wisconsin.

Tyler Donovan stepped in for an injured John Stocco and threw for 228 yards and two touchdowns as the Badgers beat Iowa 24-21 on Saturday to finish 7-1 in conference play for just the third time in school history.

Luke Swan added 113 yards receiving and a TD for Wisconsin (10-1), which snapped a four-game losing streak against Iowa (6-5, 2-5). With the victory, Bret Bielema became the first Big Ten coach to win 10 games in his rookie year.

While Ohio State and Michigan are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, only Buffalo (2-8) -- which visits Camp Randall Stadium next week in Wisconsin's season finale -- stands in the way of the Badgers' first 11-win regular season.

Wisconsin's only loss came at Michigan, 27-13, on Sept. 23.

"We're just out there showing people that we're a good team," Bielema said. "We don't get that much recognition, but we can't be worried about that."

Wisconsin scored the eventual game-winning score early in the fourth quarter on a 97-yard touchdown drive. Swan, whose 42-yard touchdown catch late in the first half gave the Badgers the lead, bailed them out again with a 48-yard, one-handed catch on third-and-11.

P.J. Hill's 1-yard TD run put Wisconsin ahead 24-14.

Hill lost his first career fumble on the Badgers' next possession, however, and Drew Tate hit Trey Stross on a 24-yard touchdown pass to pull the Hawkeyes within three with 10:20 left.

But fourth-quarter drops ruined the Hawkeyes' chances for a comeback. Scott Chandler stalled one drive by dropping a sure first-down catch, and wide-open Dominique Douglas misplayed yet another easy grab on fourth-and-7 with 2:32 left.

Tate, who threw three touchdowns for the Hawkeyes, refused to lay the blame on his receivers.

He had a point. Tate completed only 10-of-31 passes, missing high, wide and long much of the day.

"How much did my bad throws hurt our team today?" Tate said.

Iowa played with the intensity it failed to show in last week's home loss to Northwestern, but the drops were symptomatic of a team that too often has failed to make big plays. The Hawkeyes have lost five of seven and are assured of their worst record in Big Ten play since 2000.

"We haven't played consistently in any area. When that happens you end up being a 6-5 team, which is where we are right now," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.

Wisconsin blew an early 10-0 lead, but Donovan's TD pass to Swan with 39 seconds left in the first half put the Badgers ahead 17-14.

Iowa scored touchdowns on consecutive possessions to take a 14-10 lead. Tate set up the first score with a 64-yard completion to Scott Chandler. A miscommunication by the Badgers' defense left Tony Moeaki wide open in the end zone, and his 4-yard TD catch brought the Hawkeyes within 10-7.

Tate followed with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Tom Busch.

The Badgers capitalized on an interception by Roderick Rogers and moved ahead by 10 late in the first quarter. Tate threw a floater that Rogers brought back to the Iowa 26, and Donovan threw a 3-yard TD pass to Travis Beckum.

Stocco, who has started 35 straight games, sat out with a shoulder injury suffered against Penn State last week. But Donovan kept Wisconsin moving with both his arm and his feet, rushing for 61 yards on 13 carries and completing 17-of-24 passes without an interception.

"I don't think you can say enough about a guy starting his first game, in the Big Ten finale in a hostile environment," Bielema said. "The plays he was able to come up today were amazing."

Representatives from the Capital One, Champs Sports, Outback and Alamo bowls were in attendance. With Ohio State and Michigan both currently in line for BCS bids, Wisconsin is considered the front-runner for the Big Ten's Capital One slot. Iowa is likely headed to either the Alamo or Champs Sports Bowl.

The win was especially sweet for Bielema, who walked on at Iowa, made co-captain as a senior in 1992 and spent the next nine seasons as an assistant for the Hawkeyes.

Bielema played down the significance of his return to Kinnick Stadium all week, but his players knew better.

After the game, they presented their coach with the game ball.

"It's fun to come back and visit," said Bielema. "But it's great walking off that field knowing you have a 'W'."