Madison, Wis. — For Bennie Fowler, it couldn’t have been more perfect.
It had been a tumultuous season for the junior wide receiver. After entering the season as MSU’s number-one target, Fowler was unseated from the starting lineup three weeks ago, benched in favor of freshman wideout Aaron Burbridge after registering too many dropped passes in the first five games of the season.
At the time, junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell assured the media Fowler would be back — and he was, catching 12 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns since.
And Saturday, Fowler put the cherry on top, becoming MSU’s man of the hour after he hauled in the game-winning 12-yard touchdown pass in overtime to put the Badgers away 16-13 at Camp Randall Stadium.
However, Fowler wasn’t one to take credit away from the rest of his team.
“I’m very happy I was able to make the play, but my teammates, they picked me up constantly,” he said. “We’re such a tight-knit group. I’m very proud of our defense first and then the way the offense responded in that two-minute situation, then in overtime.”
Maxwell said lining up on that final play, he read the defense and saw the route — an inside fade on the seam — would be there, and he trusted Fowler to beat his man and make the catch.
“I had the confidence to take what they were giving us, and what a great catch and what a great play for us,” he said.
Fowler took the defender outside, getting just enough separation that Maxwell could put some touch on the throw to Fowler’s outside shoulder, where he pulled it in and fell backward into the end zone for six.
The only person who might have gotten more joy out of it than Fowler was his teammate, sophomore wide receiver Keith Mumphery.
“I was so happy; it was the greatest feeling in the world,” Mumphery said. “I didn’t even know how to react.”
After the game, head coach Mark Dantonio said Fowler deserved that moment.
“(It was) very fitting it went to Bennie Fowler,” he said. “Every football team … has defining moments, one way or the other.”