BY JEFF BERNIER
So in the end, it turned out to be a total of seven weeks of recovery time for Wisconsin Badgers star running back Corey Clement. Clement returned Saturday in Madtown, giving the Badgers a huge emotional lift, as well as a pretty impact lift on the field, with Wisconsin running away with the game by halftime. The Badgers would crush the Rutgers Scarlett Knights on this day, 48-10.
Wisconsin would receive the game’s opening kickoff and turn it into three. Rafael Gaglianone converted from 49 yards out. It was a big conversion for the up-and-down Gaglianone as it seemed to springboard the Badgers for the rest of the day.
After Rutgers would punt on their first possession of the game, Wisconsin would take over where they quickly produced the game’s first touchdown. A two yard Clement run, followed by a 27 yard pass play from Joel Stave to Alex Erickson set up the Badgers at the Rutgers 12. Corey Clement would rumble into the end zone on the next play, making it 10-0 Badgers on Clement’s first touchdown of the season.
The Scarlett Knights would get on the board on their second drive. A 21 yard field goal by Kyle Federico would be all Rutgers could muster versus the Badgers defense in the first half.
The Badgers would convert two more touchdowns. Stave connected with Erickson from 31 yards out on a beautiful crossing pattern over the middle. Later, Corey Clement would break away from 21 yards out, making it 24-3 Badgers with 3:30 left in the first half.
Gaglianone capped the first half scoring with a 27 yard field goal after the Badgers marched down the field on an 8 play 61 yard drive in the final 44 seconds.
Wisconsin would out-throw Rutgers in the first half, 156 yards to 25, with the Badgers finishing the game 217 yards to Rutgers 82.
Wisconsin continued to pile on in the second half behind Clement, Stave, and company, blowing away a Rutgers team that many thought would put up a much tougher fight.
Badgers quarter back Joel Stave, who head coach Paul Chryst assured was the undisputed starter this week, had another good effort for Wisconsin. The senior finished the game 13/25 with 217 yards passing. His only real hiccup came on a pick-six midway through the second half, finishing with two interceptions and one touchdown.
To say running back Corey Clement provided the Badgers offense a spark would be putting it mildly. Clement ran for 115 yards and three touchdowns, putting several exclamation points on his Halloween return to the Badgers offense.
“It was good to get him going,” said head coach Paul Chryst. “I think he uplifted the team some …”
Tanner McEvoy and Dare Ogunbowale combined for 70 yards rushing, complimenting the big time return of Clement. McEvoy, who does a little bit of everything for Wisconsin, also added an interception on the day.
Missing stud wide receiver Robert Wheelwright, Alex Erickson again was relied on heavily by Stave and the Badgers. Erickson finished the day with 103 yards on 6 receptions.
The Scarlett Knights quarterback Chris Laviano was a complete non-factor in the game.
Wisconsin held the Big Ten’s completion percentage leader to just 4/14 for a miserable 31 yards passing.
The Badgers piled up 426 yards of total offense to Rutgers 165. The Badgers actually lost the time of possession 32:00 to 28:00 thanks to scoring so quickly and efficiently all day long versus an overmatched, exhausted Rutgers defense.
The Badgers will travel to Maryland next week where they will face a struggling Terrapins (2-5) team, hoping to continue to take care of business as they wait for Iowa to slip up. The Badgers can’t just wait for that to happen. They have to keep taking it one game at a time, just as they’ve been doing. The game kicks off at 2:30 pm Central.