BY JEFF BERNIER
There’s no telling how much sleep Wisconsin Badgers head football coach Paul Chryst got heading into his team’s home opener at Camp Randall Stadium; a place so near and dear to his heart. He’ll have no problem sleeping after the Badgers performance Saturday.
The Miami (OH) RedHawks (1-1) were simply no match for the more talented and experienced Wisconsin Badgers as they were steamrolled by the home team by a score of 58-0. The Badgers never trailed in the game, racing out to a 37-0 halftime lead.
The Badgers took no chances with their feature back Cory Clement, who didn’t dress for the game due to his ailing groin issue.
“I have to come in and be smart, mature and not only think about myself but for the [best interests] of the team,” Clement said prior to the game. “You don’t want to put the team under any more stress of when I’m going to come back. … I want them to feel comfortable and be able to rely on me that I’m going to make the best decision for myself.”
Instead, the Badgers (1-1) rolled with Dare Ogunbowale, a former defensive back, and redshirt freshman Taiwan Deal to handle the bulk of the Badgers carries. Ogunbowale rushed for 112 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. Deal complemented nicely with 45 yards and two scores. The tandem really got going in the second half as Wisconsin went to the ground game heavily due to their commanding lead.
This day however belonged to the defense for the Badgers as they completely shut down the RedHawks in all facets of the game. Wisconsin held Miami (OH) to negative rushing yardage for much of the day as they finished with minus 3 yards on the ground.
Wisconsin’s do-it-all senior Tanner McEvoy was all over the field for the Badgers on Saturday. He had a key interception in the first half, and caught three passes for 30 yards on the other side of the ball. Wisconsin junior safety Leo Mussa added two interceptions of his own.
With both teams struggling to get their offense going for much of the first quarter, it was Wisconsin who broke through with the game’s first touchdown. Senior quarterback Joel Stave connected with junior wide-out Robert Wheelwright on a 14 yard touchdown with just seconds remaining in the first quarter. The pass and catch gave the Badgers a 13-0 lead after one quarter. It was a much needed confidence boost after the Badgers had stalled twice in the red zone to start the game, settling for two chip shot field goals by sophomore kicker Rafael Gaglianone.
The rout was on from there, as Stave carved up the RedHawks secondary with one of the best halves of football in his long career. Wheelwright finished the day with six receptions for 80 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Alex Erickson added five receptions for 73 yards.
Wisconsin leaned on its veteran quarterback probably a little more than they would have liked to with Clement being sidelined. Stave was certainly up to the challenge. The senior threw for over 200 yards and 3 touchdowns by halftime, finishing the game 19/30 for 236 yards with those 3 scores.
Miami (OH) struggled all day trying to move the football against a motivated Wisconsin defense. The RedHawks could only muster 157 yards of total offense.
The Badgers racked up 451 yards of offense with a balanced attack. They also controlled the game, winning the time of possession 36:49 to 23:11.
Wisconsin will now turn its attention to next week where they will host the Troy Trojans (0-1) of the Sun-Belt Conference. But not before they enjoy their dominating performance Saturday, giving head coach Paul Chryst a win in his home debut.