BY JEFF BERNIER
It was clear from the start on Saturday afternoon from Camp Randall Stadium. The Wisconsin Badgers were going to make the run a priority. In fact, they ran the ball three straight times for a first down on the game’s opening drive. With a promising start, the drive immediately came to a halt on the next set of downs, with a wild snap resulting in an eleven yard loss on third down and five.
With a chance to make a big statement on the road, Troy simply sputtered on their opening drive, going three and out. This time, Wisconsin would take full advantage, wasting little time flying down the field for the game’s first score.
The Badgers big break came on a 30 yard pass and catch play from quarterback Joel Stave to emerging weapon Robert Wheelwright. Stave looked the defense off to Alex Erickson, turned and beamed a beautiful strike to Wheelwright down the left sideline. Wheelwright’s athleticism continues to impress both Stave and his coaches.
Stave followed up his fantastic day one week ago versus Miami (OH) with another stellar effort. The senior threw for 202 yards with a touchdown. His accuracy remained elite, finishing 13/17.
Troy quarterback Brandon Silver had a nice day himself, finishing with 174 yards with 23/34 passes completed. Despite solid quarterback and running back play, the Troy Trojans never really posed a threat to upsetting Wisconsin on this day in Madtown, losing 28-3.
Dare Ogunbowale and Taiwan Deal were men possessed on the Badgers second drive, combining for seven yards per carry en route to the end zone. Ogunbowale capped things off with an 18 yard untouched scamper.
Troy was not going to be shut out like Miami (OH) last week. The Trojans moved the ball effectively on the following drive, settling for a 32 yard field goal after a video review overturned a completed pass, making it 4th and 6 instead of 4th and 1 deep inside Wisconsin territory.
It was a huge call as Troy had initially lined up to go for it on fourth down. These would be the only points they would score.
Wisconsin erased any hopes for a late comeback by Troy when Stave connected with senior tight end Austin Traylor on a 1-yard touchdown with some five minutes remaining. This followed a 38-yard reception by Traylor moments earlier in the drive.
Troy’s backup kicker Ryan Kay handled the kicking duties Saturday as their starting kicker and long snapper are currently suspended by the team. It was certainly a blow to the team as Kay missed a makeable kick that could have forced the Badgers hand a little more.
Wisconsin’s junior inside linebacker Leon Jacobs was ejected from the game for a vicious, albeit legal hit on Troy quarterback Brandon Silvers. The consensus was that he led with his helmet, leading to the hasty decision by the referees upon video review.
The Badgers defense did not let up after the ejection. It seemed to have motivated the defense was hustling versus Troy’s balanced attack.
Tanner McEvoy continued his outstanding play on both sides of the ball Saturday for Wisconsin. The offensive and defensive specialist rushed for 41 yards on just 2 carries while helping the Badgers secondary keep the Trojans in check in the passing game.
The Badgers rushing attack, led by Ogunbowale and Deal were effective all day long. Ogunbowale rushed for 75 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown. Not to be outdone, Deal had 84 yards on 16 carries of his own.
Number one receiver Alex Erickson had another fine day with 3 receptions for 87 yards.
Badgers true freshmen Chris Orr had a career day with 13 tackles, leading another dominant defensive effort.
Wisconsin has now allowed just 3 points in their last 8 quarters of play.
After two token matchups at the cozy confines of Camp Randall Stadium, the Badgers will have a much bigger test next Saturday when they host the Hawaii Warriors (1-1). Kickoff is set for 7:00 pm (Eastern).