Three weeks ago, Rafael Gaglianone felt down in the dumps as he walked off the field at Camp Randall Stadium.
It was a much more pleasant experience for the senior kicker on the University of Wisconsin football team on Saturday night.
Gaglianone kicked two field goals in the first half of the No. 16 Badgers’ 41-24 victory over Nebraska, matching the all-time program record in that category.
The two conversions gave Gaglianone 65 field goals in his career, tying him with Todd Gregoire.
Gaglianone is 65 of 81 (80.2 percent) in four-plus seasons with the Badgers. Gregoire was 65 of 85 (76.5 percent) from 1984-87.
Saturday was the first home game for the Badgers since a 24-21 loss to BYU on Sept. 15. Gaglianone missed a 42-yard field goal attempt with 36 seconds remaining, costing UW a chance to send the game to overtime.
Afterward, Gaglianone stood on the north end of the field and apologized to his teammates as they left the field.
He opened the scoring against the Cornhuskers with a 30-yard field goal on UW’s opening possession.
Gaglianone had a chance to be called upon at the end of the next series, but Badgers coach Paul Chryst opted to punt on fourth-and-8 from the Nebraska 35 rather than send out Gaglianone for a long attempt.
UW took a 6-0 lead early in the second quarter when Gaglianone converted from 28 yards.
Redshirt freshman safety Scott Nelson was flagged for targeting late in the third quarter for a hit on Nebraska running back Maurice Washington.
After the helmet-to-helmet hit was reviewed, Nelson was ejected from the game and will miss the first half of UW’s game at Michigan next week.
Williams happy at UW
Nebraska coach Scott Frost didn’t make it easy for nose tackle Bryson Williams to stick with his commitment to UW.
Frost called the Lincoln, Nebraska, native the same night he accepted the Cornhuskers’ job in December, and Williams said Frost visited him before any other recruit shortly thereafter.
Williams named Nebraska as the only school he’d even listen to while already committed to the Badgers. Frost already offered Williams previously as the coach at UCF, only Williams’ second FBS offer at the time, and he wanted the 6-foot-2, 301-pound defensive lineman to headline the Cornhuskers’ 2018 in-state recruits.
“Really the main message was ... he knows what it takes for Nebraska to be back where they were, and that’s homegrown talent,” Williams said earlier this week. “He wanted me to be the starting centerpiece of it, really.”
Williams, of course, ultimately stuck with UW and is already playing a role 10 months later. Saturday’s game marked Williams’ first opportunity to play the in-state school that he said completely ignored him until Frost took over as head coach.
The true freshman had family and friends planning on traveling to Madison for the event and “probably some people I don’t even know who are coming.” Williams said that — due to the departure of the previous Nebraska coaching staff — he didn’t feel more motivation this week than he does for any other game, and the lead-up to Saturday actually felt oddly normal.
“At the beginning of the season, I thought that when this game came up, I’d feel more amped up, more than regular,” Williams said, “but I’m really just as focused as I would be every week.”
Williams said he felt the pressure to flip to Nebraska from everywhere once Frost took over, but he always kept the belief UW was the best place for him.
“At the time, when Scott Frost took over, I had everybody — teachers, friends’ parents, friends, there was not one person in the whole state that wanted me to come here,” Williams said. “But like I said, it was between me and me. Even my family wanted me to stay there, obviously.
“I thought this was the best place for me, and that’s really what it came down to. I thought that nobody could teach me better than (UW nose tackle) Olive (Sagapolu) and (defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield), and I still believe that today.”
From the infirmary
Redshirt freshman cornerback Deron Harrell left the game in the second quarter with a head injury. Harrell was injured after going low while trying to tackle Nebraska wide receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. along the sidelines.
UW was already down one of its top cornerbacks. Sophomore Caesar Williams missed the game with a left leg injury.
— Jason Galloway contributed to this story.