Category Archives: Game Recap

Recap: Penn State Defeats Wisconsin 38-31 to Win Big 10 Championship with Comeback Victory

BY JEFF BERNIER

Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration

On October 15th, the Wisconsin Badgers’ record sat at 4-2 following back to back losses to Michigan and Ohio State including a 1-2 record to begin Big Ten Conference play. With that, the Badgers and their fans’ playoff hopes were as good we gone. Fast forward to early December, Wisconsin now sits at 10-2 on the strength of 6 straight victories. They now have a chance to make the coveted final four teams. Quite a comeback, but not a surprise as the Badgers have made resiliency the norm in Madison lately. Especially this season, as Bucky and company have been ravaged by injuries and have had to overcome a plethora of adversity including a split quarterback situation, with a senior and a freshman both playing significant snaps.

The same could be said for the Nittany Lions of Penn State who also sat at 10-2 coming into Saturday night’s action where they would knock off the Wisconsin Badgers 38-31.

Austin Ramesh had a one yard touchdown run to open up the scoring for Wisconsin.

Following a Penn State punt after an opening drive 3 and out, Wisconsin running back Corey Clement detonated for a 67 yard run on the 2nd play from scrimmage, sending the Badgers fan sections of Lucas Oil Stadium into hysteria.

Just like that, it was 14-nothing Bucky.

It looked like smooth sailing for Wisconsin as they rushed out to a 14-nothing lead. However, Penn State hasn’t won 10 games by simply giving in.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Trace McSorley lead a strong drive for the Nittany Lions, going 75 yards on just 5 plays. McSorley lofted a perfectly thrown deep ball to tightend Mike Gesicki who simply out-jumped the Badgers corner for the ball. The 33 yard pass play made it 14-7 Wisconsin.

An early turning point in the game came after Penn State forced a Wisconsin punt on their next posession. Driving for the potential tie, the Nittany Lions would make a costly mistake. Senior Brian Gaia’s snap sailed over the head of McSorley causing a scramble for the loose ball, ultimately ending with a Badgers defensive touchdown by Ryan Connelly on the fumble recovery.

Facing a 21-7 deficit, Penn State would attempt to go for it on 4th and 2 from their own 42. The desperate move was completely baffling so early in the game. The Badgers would turn Penn State over on downs after forcing an errant throw.

Wisconsin v. Penn State

Wisconsin tailback Dare Ogunbowale ran for a 7 yard score, stretching the Badgers’ lead out 28-7.

Penn State appeared to be in real trouble heading into halftime, save for a hyper efficient and equally clutch 90 yard drive. The Nittany Lions capped the drive with a 40 yard touchdown from McSorley to Saeed Blacknall with under a minute to go.

The 2016 Big Ten Championship game was a tale of two halves.

Completely overwhelmed in the first half, Penn State looked like a totally different team in the 2nd half. One missed field goal, one punt by the Badgers and two Nittany Lions touchdowns later, Penn State would pull even with Wisconsin, 28-28.

Wisconsin would finally score on a short field goal with 16 seconds remaining in the 3rd, making it 31-28 heading into the fourth.

It wouldn’t matter as fate had this one sealed. The Nittany Lions would continue the largest comeback in Big Ten Championship game history.

McShorley would connect with running back Saquon Barkley on a perfect loft throw in the back corner of the endzone for an 18 yard score.

Wisconsin v. Penn State

A Penn State field goal made it 38-31.

Penn State would hold off a last ditch effort by the Badgers to tie the game in the closing minutes. The Nittany Lions would stuff the Badgers on a fourth and one; a play, that after a chain measurement, sealed the big comeback win for Penn State.

Trace McSorley absolutely shredded the Badgers secondary, airing the football out seemingly at will. McSorley completed 22 of 31 passes for a Big Ten Championship record 384 yards and 4 touchdowns.

As good as the Badgers defense had been this season, the secondary played their worst game of the season, looking invisible on some of Penn State’s long pass plays.

Saeed Blacknall caught 6 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Daesean Hamilton hauled in 8 catches for 118 yards. The duo were the difference makers for the Nittany Lions.

Corey Clement ran for 164 yards on 21 carries for Wisconsin but was mostly a non factor after the first quarter. The senior ran for one score.

Senior quarterback Bart Houston’s conservative play, which worked for much of the first half, didn’t have enough juice to then generate a comeback for Wisconsin. Houston finished the game 16 for 21 for 174 yards with no scores.

Wisconsin v. Penn State

Penn State will now have a great case to make the playoffs as one of the final four teams.

Wisconsin had a fine season and will play in a big bowl game for their efforts but it will be a season of what ifs for the University of Wisconsin and their diehard fans.

MORE PHOTOS (by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration)

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Recap: #6 Wisconsin Badgers Keep Playoff Hopes Alive and Take Home Paul Bunyan’s Axe with Rivalry Win over Minnesota, 31-17

BY TER STAFF

Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration

Today was a big day for the Wisconsin Badgers, and it involved a lot of familiarity while also charting a lot of new ground. First, it was Senior Day, the last day that seniors Corey Clement, Vince Biegel and company will ever play for their home crowd at Camp Randall Stadium. Emotions were running high throughout the entire day, and the senior class had their sights on a memorable afternoon with their family and friends watching.

Next, today’s game was also important because it marked Wisconsin’s heated rivalry with the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Although Wisconsin has dominated this matchup in recent history, Minnesota was going to do everything in its power to ensure that Wisconsin didn’t reclaim Paul Bunyan’s axe for a 13th straight year.

And if a rivalry matchup and Senior Day wasn’t enough, the game also marked the Badger’s celebration of their Big 10 West victory. Although Wisconsin clinched the title (and therefore birth in the Big 10 Championship game) yesterday, celebrating their upcoming match against Penn State (who paved their way with Ohio State and Penn State wins earlier today) just wouldn’t have been the same after a crushing loss.

Then last but not least, the day was a special one because of the playoff implications that surrounded the game. Of course the Badgers have had a “one game at a time” mentality, but the reality is, with a win today and a Big 10 Championship win next week, Wisconsin could very well make the College Football Playoffs for the first time. It’s unclear if the Badgers would still need some help, but if the squad didn’t do their part against the Golden Gophers, then their playoff hopes would be more than over.

So with so much on the line, you could expect the Badgers to hit the ground running and bully Minnesota around, right? Well, it wasn’t so easy. At least not right away.

Not only did Minnesota draw blood first with an early field goal, but after Wisconsin responded with an Alec Ingold touchdown in the second quarter, Minnesota had two unanswered touchdown scores from QB Mitch Leidner (one rushing and one passing). But after Leidner’s touchdown run with 53 seconds left to end Minnesota’s impressive first half, Minnesota would not score another point all game.

Wisconsin v. Minnesota

Wisconsin first chipped away at their 17-7 deficit with an Andrew Endicott field goal. While they turned the game into a one-score Minnesota lead, field goals were not going to get the job done, especially with how Wisconsin was moving the ball up to that point. 

Then it was time for the game changing moment. Just when Minnesota was starting to move the ball again, the Badger’s Mitch Leidner intercepted Leidner’s pass in Wisconsin’s own endzone, saving 7 points and perhaps saving a second half dagger that very well may have put the game away. Unfortunately for Wisconsin, this was only a 7-point swing as the Badgers punted the ball away after 4 plays and 19 yards.

But there is something about the 4th Quarter at Camp Randall Stadium. As “Jump Around” was blasting throughout the stadium, Wisconsin had new life. With 13 minutes left in the game, Wisconsin’s Sojourn Shelton delivered with a big interception and return for 40 yards to the Minnesota 19. With great field position, Wisconsin capitalized with a Corey Clement touchdown run, after Wisconsin QB Bart Houston delivered a clutch pass to Robert Wheelwright.

Minutes later, the Badgers again found the endzone, again with a Corey Clement touchdown run. The real MVP of this drive though was WR Jazz Peavy, who had a huge 71-yard run to the Minnesota 5-yard-line.

From there, the game was all but over, and Wisconsin continued to show us why they have arguably the best defense in the country. Wisconsin would see 4 total interceptions in the second half, two of which led to easy touchdowns for the Badgers. While Minnesota’s offense owned the first half of play, Wisconsin’s defense stepped up big time in the second half. Although the Badgers continue to win despite their offense, as opposed to because of their offense, it was enough for another week.

They say defense wins championships and Wisconsin will test that theory next weekend, as the Badgers will face the Big 10 East Champions in Penn State for the Conference Championship in Indianapolis.


Check out our photos from the Badger’s victory over Minnesota here.

Recap: #7 Wisconsin Badgers Demolish Illinois Fighting Illini in Homecoming Victory, 48-3

BY TER STAFF

Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration

While Illinois was coming off an exciting victory over Michigan State, it was all Wisconsin in this one, as the Badgers demolished the Fighting Illini, 48-3. From offense to defense, Wisconsin was operating on all cylinders for their Homecoming crowd. 

Matching a career high with three touchdowns, Corey Clement again ran for over 100 yards (123), and was just one of many Wisconsin rushers who contributed to the teams combined 363 yards rushing. Although the receivers played a secondary role in the offense today, Jazz Peavy scored on a first quarter touchdown and continued to show why he is one of the better receivers in the conference.

And despite putting up 31 points in the first half, with three touchdowns coming in the first quarter alone, it was the defense that truly set the tempo early on. Four interceptions from three different players, Wisconsin’s defense consistently gave the offense exceptional field position.

It was truly a team victory, and while the Badgers absolutely dominated and did everything right, their weaknesses were still under watch as both quarterbacks, Alex Hornibrook and Bart Houston, took snaps today.

While Hornibrook and Houston each threw for one touchdown, and doing what was asked of them, the inconsistency at the quarterback position, that maintain this far into the season, may be what costs Wisconsin during a potential conference championship, bowl game, or even a shot a the national title.

Wisconsin v. Illinois

And don’t rule Wisconsin out of a playoff appearance just yet. While many fans lost hope that a two loss team could even make the playoffs, with Wisconsin’s resume and if they continue to dominate like they did against Illinois, they could certainly have a chance if they win out.

Wisconsin has the best chance of any Big 10 team to make it to the conference championship next month, and although Michigan and Ohio State both beat the Badgers and are currently ranked higher, a Big 10 Championship may lead to a playoff birth, even with two losses.

And when Wisconsin very likely may face Penn State in the conference championship (which may help or hurt them), don’t underestimate Wisconsin’s chances of winning their next three.

If, which is still a big “if”, Wisconsin does make it to the playoffs, they will have to figure out this quarterback situation. Neither Hornibrook or Houston will turn into an elite quarterback by the end of the season, but one of them will need to step up, even with Wisconsin’s elite defense. To what extent and who will be the one to do it? Only time will tell.

 

The Badgers will look to keep their playoff hopes and chances at winning the Big 10 alive, next week at Purdue, for a 11:00 AM Saturday game in West Lafayette.

Recap: #9 Wisconsin Survives Georgia State at Home, 23-17

BY JEFF BERNIER

Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration

Normally, playing a football game without the services of your best player would be a tough scenario to overcome. However, the Wisconsin Badgers had nearly an entire season last year of gaming for this very thing. Star tailback Corey Clement was held out of Saturday morning’s matchup with the Georgia State Panthers. Having Clement at or near 100% is critical for the Badgers heading into conference play next week.

The decision was probably very easy for head coach Paul Chryst, in that Georgia State is dead last in the FBS in run defense, having surrendered nearly 400 yards per game to opposing rushers in their first two games.

The Georgia State Panthers (0-3) could not pull off the massive upset of the #9 Wisconsin Badgers (3-0) on their home turf, falling by a score of 23-17. It took a little longer than it maybe should have for the Badgers to seal the deal against the visiting Panthers, as the Badgers struggled to convert third downs early, as well as having to overcome a bad turnover near their own goal line and a missed field goal by the previously perfect Rafael Gaglianone.

The Badgers easily played their worst half of football here in 2016 in the first half.

After turning their first two drives of the game into just two field goals by Gagialnone, their next several possessions resulted in a fumble, a punt, and a missed 30 yard field goal attempt as time ran out in the first half. It wasn’t so much a result of good defense by Georgia State, but an inability to execute by the Badgers’ offense, lead by struggling senior quarterback Bart Houston.

Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration

Wisconsin would take just a 6-0 lead into intermission. Georgia State took this small moral victory into halftime, being only down one score and after being held to just two yards of total offense in the first quarter.

After a punt each by Georgia State and Wisconsin to open up the third quater, it would be the Panthers who would score first, turning a 10 play, 49 yard drive into a 45 yard field goal by their senior kicker Rogier Ten Lohuis, halving the Badgers’ lead 6-3. Lohuis, who had another 45 yard attempt blocked in the first half, was playing in only his third game of American football after making the team.

Following the Georgia State field goal, head coach Paul Chryst would bench Bart Houston in favor of freshman quaterback Alex Hornibrook. The move payed immediate dividends, as Wisconsin would finally hit paydirt with about three minutes left in the third. Hornibrook completed passes of 29 and 19 yards to set up Bucky. Dare Ogunbowale would punch it in from two yards out, making it 13-3 Wisconsin.

Georgia State quaterback Connor Manning really heated up in the second half, after not being called on much in the first half. His go-to wide receiver, senior Robert Davis became a handful for the Badgers defense. Manning connected with Davis on a 13 yard touchdown pass, pulling the Panthers within three points.

Hornibrook would be intercepted by Chandon Sullivan on the next Badgers’ possession. Three plays, and 69 yards later, Georgia State would score a go-ahead touchdown, making it 17-13, and leaving a sold out Camp Randall Stadium in stunned silence.

Alex Hornibrook would shake off the earlier INT and lead a crucial drive for the Badgers going 59 yards on eight plays. A 29 yard throw and catch from Hornibrook to freshman Kyle Penniston took the Badgers offense down to the Georgia State 17 yard line. Facing a third and goal from one yard out, following 2 failed run attempts, Wisconsin would go play-action as Hornibrook rolled out to his right, finding Penniston once again on a short out route in the back of the endzone as the Badgers regained the lead, 20-17.

The Badgers defense would hold, forcing a punt from Georgia State and then converting their own drive into a 41 yard field goal from Gaglianone.

Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration

The Panthers, needing a touchdown and extra point to take the lead, would be forced to punt once again. Wisconsin, needing just one first down as Georgia State had just one timeout remaining, would get that first down, finally ending the Panthers’ spirited upset bid.

Wisconsin’s defense gave up an uncharacteristic 317 yards of total offense to Georgia State.

The Badgers would rack up 400 yards of offense themselves, making just enough plays down the stretch to avoid a disasterous loss before heading into conference play.

Freshman Alex Hornibrook rescued a sputtering offense, finishing 8/12 for 122 yards and the game-winning touchdown, all in less than two quarters.

Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration

Dare Ogunbowale and freshman Bradrick Shaw lead Bucky with 65 and 62 yards rushing respectively.

The Badgers lost one of their top receiving targets in the first half as Troy Fumagalli would not return.

With the win, Wisconsin ran their home winning streak against non-conference opponents to 37 straight games, the longest current streak in the FBS.

It wasn’t the runaway blowout many had presumed coming into the game but Wisconsin held serve, moving to 3-0 before they embark on the toughest four game stretch in the nation. It all begins next Saturday as the Wisconsin Badgers head to Michigan State to face the #12 Spartans (1-0).

Recap: #10 Wisconsin Badgers Demolish Akron Zips, 54-10

BY JEFF BERNIER

Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
The Wisconsin Badgers’ bread and butter last season was their overwhelmingly stingy defense, which ranked among the nation’s best for much of 2015. A strong run game, coupled with steady, if unspectacular quarterback play lead the Badgers to another double digit win season. The Wisconsin Badgers of 2016 have picked up right where they left of last season.

Edging out LSU last week at historic Lambeau Field opened up a lot of eyes around the country to Wisconsin’s potential. It also showed the fickle nature of preseason rankings, as Wisconsin had been unranked heading into their matchup with LSU.

The Wisconsin Badgers (#10, 2­0) dominated the Akron Zips (1­1) in their first game at Camp Randall Stadium, winning 54­-10. The home team racked up an impressive 586 yards of total offense, while limiting the Zips to just 224 yards.

The Badgers put together a methodical opening drive to start the game, going 83 yards on 13 plays. Senior running back Corey Clement, who is finally healthy after missing much of last season due to a lingering sports hernia and groin issues, looked spry, running for 47 of those 83 Badger yards. Clement capped off the drive with a four yard rush right up the gut.

After a three-­and­-out by the Akron Zips on their first possession, the Badgers would go 85 yards on 10 plays down to the one-­yard line where they would face a fourth and one. Clement would have a clear lane into the endzone but the senior slipped on the Camp Randall turf while making his first cut. Instead of a 14­-0 Bucky lead, Wisconsin would turn the ball over on downs.

The defense would quickly pick up Clement and the Badgers.

Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Akron quarterback Thomas Woodson would be sacked by Wisconsin linebacker Alec James in their own endzone for a safety on the subsequent drive.

Wisconsin would quickly find the endzone following Akron’s safety punt with Junior wide receiver Jazz Peavy having a big hand. Peavy had catches of 10 and 11 yards, while also making a 23 yard run that put the Badgers on the 30­ yard line of Akron. Clement would finish things off, this time keeping his footing on his one­-yard run, diving over the defense.

From there, the rout was on. Wisconsin, who undoubtedly heard the grumblings that their #10 AP ranking was simply too high, excelled in all three phases of the game Saturday afternoon.

Senior quarterback Bart Houston would connect with Jazz Peavy for his two touchdowns late in the 2nd quarter. Throw and catch scores of 13 and 34 yards were sandwiched around an Akron punt return touchdown by Jo Jo Natson which was the only real noise the Zips made all afternoon in Madison.

Wisconsin would take a 30­-10 lead into halftime, lead by brilliant halves from both Clement and Houston. Houston was 12/19 for 206 yards passing in the first half, while Clement racked up 111 yards rushing with two scores on his 21 carries.

Wisconsin v. Akron
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Clement did not play in the second half as he was held out as a precaution after having his ankle fallen on by a tackling Akron defender late in the first half.

Budding NFL wide receiver prospect Robert Wheelwright III continued to flash his immense potential on the outside; at times, making quarterback Bart Houston look NFL ready himself. The senior wideout finished with 4 catches for 99 yards on the afternoon.

Jazz Peavy lead Bucky with seven catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns.

The Badgers played many of their backups in the second half as Wisconsin continued to pile on the points. Redshirt freshman backup quarterback Alex Hornibrook looked poised during limited action, finishing 5/5 with 61 yards passing, including a six­-yard touchdown to Alec Ingold.

Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Akron quarterback Thomas Woodson struggled mightily Saturday after his 407 yard, six touchdown performance just one week ago. The Junior finished with just 108 yards through the air.

The Badgers’ defense has been one of the best in the nation over the course of last season. With many starters having returned here in 2016, it will be the defense having a huge say in Bucky’s title hopes moving forward.

Wisconsin (#10, 2­0) will stay home at Camp Randall Stadium for next week’s matchup with Georgia State (0­2). The game will kick off at 11:00 am Central standard time, as Wisconsin looks to continue their tune up toward conference play which begins the following week in a tough test at Michigan State.

Recap: Northwestern Wildcats Defeat Wisconsin Badgers, 13-7

BY JEFF BERNIER

Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration

In their most important matchup of the year, the Wisconsin Badgers (8-3, 5-2 Big Ten) did not bring their best stuff Saturday to Camp Randall Stadium when they faced off against the Northwestern Wildcats (9-2, 5-2 Big Ten). The Badgers turned the ball over a season high five times. Most of them were also absolute momentum killers. And in the end, the Badgers just could not overcome all of their mistakes, falling in a heartbreaker to the Wildcats on senior day, 13-7.

Several questionable calls by the referees also hurt the home team tremendously. A punt returned for a touchdown was called back in the third quarter and a game winning touchdown with 24 seconds remaining was also negated.

The Badgers were clearly the better team on Saturday, but they simply beat themselves. Credit is due for the Northwestern defense, who contained the Badgers formidable run game, that featured Corey Clement, Dare Ogunbowale, and Taiwan Deal who were all available for just the second game this season.

The Badgers first half went something like this. They would punt four times, lose a fumble, and throw an interception. Wisconsin would total just 50 yards of offense in the first half as Northwestern took a 10-0 lead into intermission, behind a Justin Jackson eight yard scoring run, and a Jack Mitchell 35 yard field goal.

It was the Wildcats defense who stopped the run in this game. The Badgers were held to -19 yards rushing in the first 30 minutes. Joel Stave was credited with -46 yards rushing in the half, completing negating the 27 positive yards gained by Corey Clement and Taiwan Deal. It was the worst half of football running the ball in recent memory for Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Badgers defense, not to be outdone on their own turf by a hungry Northwestern Wildcats defense, made one of the biggest plays of the game coming out of the halftime break. Facing a fourth and 1 from the Wisconsin 35 yard line, the Badgers defense was able to win the battle up front and stuff Warren Long for a one yard loss, resulting in a turnover on downs.

Wisconsin v. Northwestern

The Badgers would follow immediately with a 5 play 64 yard touchdown drive, making it 10-7 Wildcats. Joel Stave made two perfect throws to Jazz Peavy, one for 16 yards and one gem for 42 yards that put the Badgers inside the Wildcats 10 yard line. Corey Clement would go beast-mode from there, dragging a defender over the goal line for the Badgers first touchdown on the day.

Following a Northwestern punt, senior Alex Erickson would field it on a few hops and take it all the way to the house, sending Camp Randall Stadium into pandemonium as the Badgers took the lead. But not so fast … The referees would call the play back, citing an illegal fair catch motion by Erickson. It was a strange call, as replays showed Erickson to simply be waving off his teammates as he waited for the football.

The blown call negated the electric play, and the Badgers would later punt on the drive. It was a huge call, as the Badgers offense was stifled the rest of the afternoon. The Badgers appeared to be overcome with frustration as a result of the call back.

Despite the bevy of turnovers, and missed opportunities, the Badgers were driving for the win with less than two minutes to play. Stave would complete a pass to tight end Troy Fumagalli over the middle for 22 yards to the Wildcats 1 yard line. The play was initially ruled a touchdown but replays showed his knee was down just short of the goal line.

On first and goal, Stave connected with Jazz Peavy in the right flat of the end zone as Peavy tumbled to the ground. It appeared Northwestern’s valiant effort would fall just short. However, upon review, the touchdown was overturned as the referees said the receiver did not complete the catch process as he went to the ground.

A controversial play call made famous by NFL stars Dez Bryant and Calvin Johnson was the final nail in the coffin for the Badgers. An untimely sack on Stave lead to a quick spike, setting up a fourth and goal.

With Stave hurt on the sack. Bart Houston was summoned with the game on the line. It appeared he had Tanner McEvoy who dived for the Houston throw over the middle, but the ball was just overthrown, falling haplessly incomplete.

Wisconsin v. Northwestern

Northwestern did outgain the Badgers with 211 yards of offense to 205 for Wisconsin. The Badgers finished the day with negative 26 yards rushing, easily their worst rush attack in any game in recent memory.

The Badgers, who have struggled at times on third down, finished the afternoon just 2-13, compounding their inability to keep drives alive versus a motivated Wildcats defense.

Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson threw for just 61 yards. The player of the game for the Wildcats was running back Justin Jackson, who carved up the Badgers top ranked defense to the tune of 139 yards and a touchdown.

The most important statistic for Northwestern was the turnover margin. Northwestern did not turn the ball over once versus the Badgers turnover machining defense.

Stave was clutch down the stretch, but the sack taken under 20 seconds sealed the Badgers fate. Stave finished the game with 231 yards and two interceptions. Clement, the Badgers top rusher, gained just 24 yards on his 10 carries.

It was always going to be a tall order, but with the loss Saturday, the Badgers are officially eliminated from Big Ten contention. They will instead turn their attention to next Saturday will the will head to Minnesota to face a Golden Gophers team one win away from Bowl eligibility.

The Axe will also be on the line. That game kicks off at 2:30 pm Central.

 

Recap: Wisconsin Badgers Defeat Maryland Terrapins, 31-24

BY JEFF BERNIER

Wisconsin v. Rutgers

For all the knocks the critics can put on the 2015 Wisconsin Badgers (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) football team, one thing they cannot deny is their ability to overcome adversity. They are simply resilient.

The Badgers headed into a hostile environment Saturday afternoon in College Park, Maryland to face a Maryland Terrapins (2-7 0-5 Big Ten) team anxious for their first conference win. Stud tailback Corey Clement ended up sitting this game out for Wisconsin dealing with ankle pain.

With their familiar use of the proverbial ‘next-man-up’ philosophy, the Badgers overcame the absence of Clement once again, outlasting a spirited effort from the Terrapins by a score of 31-24.

It wasn’t the start the Badgers, or for that matter the Terrapins, had imagined heading into this one. Maryland gashed the Badgers #1 nationally ranked defense in the first quarter, rushing for 75 yards, outgaining Wisconsin 126 to 90 in total offense. Alas, football is a game of four quarters. Like most of Wisconsin’s opponents this year, the Terrapins just were not able to hang with a far superior Badgers squad as the game wore on.

Both Maryland and Wisconsin went three and out to open the game. Things would heat up white hot from there.

Wisconsin punter Drew Meyer, who’s been miserable at times this year, shanked a 24 yard punt that set up Maryland at the Badgers 32 yard line. The Terrapins took full advantage. Junior quarterback Perry Hills and junior tailback Wes Brown shouldered the load. With the help of a Badgers passing interference call, Brown would cap the short drive with a seven yard dash to opening the scoring 7-0.

Wisconsin sophomore reserve defensive back Natrell Jamerson exploded for a 98 yard kickoff return for a touchdown on the ensuing kickoff, knotting the game at 7-7.

After a Terrapins punt, the Badgers executed an 87 yard drive completed on just five runs. Joe Schoebert rumbled for a 57 yard run on 4th and one from their own 22 yard line, setting up Dare Ogunbowale’s 21 yard score.

Ogunbowale has been a savior for Wisconsin in the wake of Clement’s season long injury problems. Maryland kicker Adam Green would convert from 44 yards out, making it 14-10 Wisconsin. The sophomore would miss a crucial one from 46 yards out on the very next drive after Maryland linebacker Jalen Brooks picked off Badgers quarterback Joel Stave on 2nd down and 10.

Wisconsin prides itself on having a bevy of versatile players. Paul Chryst believes in his players’ abilities to play multiple positions and its positive effect on ballgames. The Badgers most versatile player is without a doubt, the position-less Tanner McEvoy. He’s run out of the backfield. He’s lined up at wide-out and in the slot. He’s lined up at quarterback and cornerback. But McEvoy mostly plays safety. And he does it very well. McEvoy intercepted Perry Hills on 3rd down and long, setting up a Rafael Gaglianone 28 yard field goal.

Later, Wisconsin was facing a 4th and one from their own 22 yard line with just over a minute remaining in the first half. Despite the earlier conversion, the Badgers wisely chose to punt. Unfortunately, the punt was blocked netting only 11 yards.

Special teams play and their inability to convert third downs absolutely killed Wisconsin in the first half against Maryland.

The Terrapins faced a 3rd down and 17 from Wisconsin 40 yard line with 49 seconds remaining in the first half. Perry Hills lofted a perfect throw deep down the left sideline to receiver D.J. Moore who hauled it in for the game tying touchdown. The play sent a confident and engaged College Park crowd into a frenzy.

Maryland won just about every statistic in the first half. The Badgers were very fortunate to just be tied. But as the saying goes, you have got to play a full four quarters to complete an upset.

The Badgers looked like the Badgers again after intermission. The defense did a 180. The offense moved the ball with relative ease, and the special teams’ squad looked like a completely different unit.

Badgers quarterback Joel Stave, who had just 20 yards passing in the first half, found his groove in the second half. Stave would go 4/5 for 63 yards on the Badgers second drive of the third quarter. The 8-play 69 yard drive was punctuated by Wisconsin’s goal line specialist Alec Ingold. A converted big back from linebacker, Ingold punched it in from 1 yard out.

Terrapins Perry Hills and Wes Brown could not find any of their first half magic in the second. The Badgers are the nation’s top defensive unit for a reason. They just shut teams down.

Wisconsin’s second half defensive effort was the MVP in this one.

Following yet another Maryland punt, Wisconsin would put together another long efficient drive going 71 yards on just 7 plays. Joel Stave or Dare Ogunbowale had a hand in all 71 yards. Ogunbowale would scurry in from 7 yards out on a delayed pass play into the left flat from Stave, with no Maryland defender in the vicinity.

Just like that, Wisconsin was up 31-17 early in the fourth quarter. Maryland finally was able to score with 2:39 remaining. Caleb Rowe, backup quarterback who took over for Hills connected with Levern Jacobs on a 27 yard pass and catch bringing Maryland within one score, 31-24.

Near disaster ensued on the onside kick attempt by Maryland. A very fortunate off sides call negated a Terrapins recovery and touchdown return, a play that would have tied it. The referees determined a Terrapins player was just slightly over the line. Replays showed it was very close.

From there, Bucky and company were able to run out the clock.

Badgers senior quarterback Joel Stave, who has faced a fair amount of criticism for his turnover issues, again made just enough plays for Wisconsin. Stave finished the game 15/24 for 188 yards. Stave really stepped it up in the second half.

Six different receivers caught a ball from Stave on Saturday. Senior receiver Alex Erickson, as steady a presence the Badgers have had this season, once again was Stave’s go to guy. Erickson finished the afternoon with 5 catches for 83 yards, both tops on the team.

While Wisconsin was just 3/13 on third down, they were 2/2 on fourth down. Both of the conversions were huge, helping Bucky to another stepping stone win.

Maryland outgained Wisconsin 316 yards to 305. This hadn’t been done since the Badgers week one loss at Alabama. The defense, as always this year, made the difference.

Wisconsin will now embark on a long overdue, much deserved bye week. Injuries have piled up after ten straight weeks of football, and the Badgers will look to get healthy over the next fourteen days. From there, Bucky and company will play host to #21 Northwestern (7-2, 3-2 Big Ten) in the biggest game of the year for both teams thus far.

 

Recap: Wisconsin Badgers Dominate Rutgers Scarlet Knights in 48-10 Victory

BY JEFF BERNIER

Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration

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.

Wisconsin v. Rutgers

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.

Wisconsin v. Rutgers

“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.

 

Recap: Wisconsin Badgers Defeat Illinois Fighting Illini, 24-13

BY JEFF BERNIER

Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration

Despite missing their star tailback Corey Clement for a seventh straight game and losing their senior quarterback Joel Stave in the first quarter, the Wisconsin Badgers were able to grind out another victory; this time on the road versus a much improved Illinois Fighting Illini team by a score of 24-13.

It took some time before the first points flashed up on the scoreboard in Champagne. The Fighting Illini received the game’s opening kickoff. They would punt shortly thereafter.

The Badgers would go three and out on their first possession. The Illinois’ defensive line flexed their muscle early and often, getting into the backfield with relative ease. They got to Badgers quarterback Joel Stave repeatedly, knocking him down, and forcing rushed throws.

Mike Phair, Illinois’ new co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach has made a huge impact on this Fighting Illini squad. Phair has been able to focus his guys game in and game out; a defensive group that includes some NFL quality talent.

After one more punt apiece, the Fighting Illini were finally able to convert a drive into points. A sloppy 9 play, 18 yard drive by Illinois was capped with a 37 yard field goal by senior kicker Taylor Zalewski.

A few more hits on Stave by a possessed Fighting Illini front line was all it took for them to knock the Badgers senior play-caller out of the game with what appeared to be a concussion. The Badgers training staff took away Stave’s helmet on the sidelines as they walked him to the locker room.

The Badgers season now rested on the right arm of junior backup quarterback Bart Houston who, until today, had never thrown a pass in conference play in his collegiate career. Houston, at 6’4” 228 pounds was certainly ready for his number to be called Saturday.

Having just come in for the injured Stave, Houston and the Badgers were facing a third down and 9 from the Illini 23 yard line. Houston, with a quick three step drop, floated a beauty of a throw to the right corner near the pylon to junior wide-out Robert Wheelwright. Wheelwright, who hauled the pass in while being able to turn up field just enough to dive and break the plane, made it 7-3 Wisconsin.

The spectacular effort from Wheelwright continued a trend of elite athleticism for the junior. It also was his fourth touchdown reception on the season, which leads the Badgers. Wisconsin would later lose Wheelwright to an injury. He did not return for the Badgers.

A 26 yard field goal by Rafael Gaglianone with 7:03 remaining in the half set the half time score in Wisconsin’s favor, 10-7.

The Badgers missed a golden opportunity to push the lead heading into halftime. Houston was picked off by Illinois sophomore cornerback Eaton Spence in the end zone with just 33 seconds remaining.

Wisconsin v. Purdue

The Badgers started the second half with two punts, unable to get their makeshift offense in gear. On the Fighting Illini’s second possession of the final half, they broke through the Badgers stout defense.

Illinois’ junior quarterback Wes Lunt found his rhythm. He completed passes of 16, 15, and 19 yards. The 5 play 86 yard drive was capped by freshman tailback Ke’Shawn Vaugh on an impressive 36 yard sprint right up the gut. Vaugh is filling in at running back for Illinois while their star running back, Josh Ferguson, continues to recover from a shoulder injury.

The Fighting Illini wouldn’t enjoy their third quarter lead for long. The Badgers came right back on the next drive and scored on an Alec Ingold 2 yard touchdown run, making it 17-13 Wisconsin. From there, the Badgers would not look back.

Wisconsin capped the day’s scoring with another touchdown, this time it was Houston connecting with senior wide receiver Alex Erickson on the Badgers very next possession. The 9 yard pass and catch play came on third down and goal from the Illinois 9.

Wisconsin continued their resurgence on third down efficiency, which has been a point of emphasis lately for head coach Paul Chryst. The Badgers finished the game a healthy 9/16 on the critical down.

The Badgers again struggled to run the ball with efficiency. Senior #1 wide receiver Alex Erickson was unquestionably the player of the game, doing a little bit of everything for the Badgers’ offense. Erickson saved the ground game for Wisconsin too on Saturday, rushing for 81 yards on 4 carries. Erickson also hauled in 10 catches for 96 yards and that capper score.

Bart Houston, who was thrust into action following the Stave concussion, performed very well, leading the Badgers offense on many crucial drives in the second half. Houston finished the game 22/33 for 232 yards with two touchdowns. Houston had two interceptions, but they did not hurt the Badgers chances Saturday.

Illinois’ quarterback Wes Lunt had a quiet but decent day, finishing with 278 yards and a pick. He and Illinois just weren’t able to convert in the red zone, the few times they got deep into Badgers’ territory.

Badgers’ senior safety Michael Caputo picked off Lunt for his second interception on the season.

Fighting Illini safety Clayton Fejedelem had a monster day for Illinois, helping keep the game closer than it maybe should have been. The junior finished the game with 19 tackles and an interception.

The Badgers will head back home next weekend for a matchup against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (3-3) on Halloween night in Madison, Wisconsin. The game kicks off at 11:00 am Central.

 

 

 

 

Recap: Wisconsin Badgers Defeat Purdue Boilermakers, 24-7

BY JEFF BERNIER

Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration

With Wisconsin fighting for its Bowl aspirations, they took another step in the right direction Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison as the Badgers (5-2) defeated the Boilermakers (1-6) of Purdue 24-7. The offense made enough plays and the Badgers defense, which has been dominant for long stretches this season, was brilliant again on this day.

The Badgers received the game’s opening kickoff and immediately went to work against a struggling Boilermakers’ defense. Senior quarterback Joel Stave and junior tailback Dare Ogunbowale were sharp as the Badgers marched right down the field for the game’s first touchdown. Stave was perfect on the drive while Ogunbowale had several effective runs.

True freshman Alec Ingold, a linebacker by trade who has emerged as a new weapon for Wisconsin in the run game, capped the opening drive with a four yard rush for a touchdown.

The effectiveness and balance of the Badgers opening drive had a feeling of blowout home win being imminent. Especially, after Purdue went three and out on their subsequent opening drive. But not so fast …

The Badgers were once again marching on their second drive. Stave continued his brilliance, making quick reads and firing passes that were right on the money. The senior started the game a perfect six for six for 68 yards.

Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration

Facing a third down and 8 from the Purdue 11 yard line, Ogunbowale was flagged for a false start, moving the team back to a more complicated try of 3rd and 13. Stave dropped back and could not get his footing with the pass rush closing in and tried to zip a pass across the field that sailed on Stave right into the waiting arms of Purdue defensive back LeRoy Clark.

Clark, who recently accepted a position move to safety, returned the Stave pick 66 yards to the Wisconsin 29 yard line, breaking several tackles along the way. It was Stave’s only real hiccup in the game.

Purdue, finding themselves with excellent field position, seized the moment. Purdue, wanting to make a statement, chose to go for it on 4th and 1 from the Badgers 20. Freshman tailback Markell Jones was able to convert. Freshman quarterback David Blough capped the drive with an untouched 2 yard touchdown scramble.

The Badgers missed a golden opportunity to extend the lead just before half, as struggling sophomore kicker Rafael Gaglionone missed from 35 yards out. Gaglionone had hit from 28 earlier in the half, as the Badgers lead just 10-7 going into intermission.

Strangely, the Badgers did not punt in the first half, and they outgained the Boilermakers 272 yards to 61. Despite the lopsidedness, Wisconsin only able to build just that three point lead.

Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration

Purdue had first crack in the second half. The Badgers, who presumably got a verbal lashing from their head coach Paul Chryst, came out strong, forcing a three and out.

What followed were two Badgers punts and two more Boilermakers punts. On Purdue’s third punt of the second half, the Badgers finally gave the Camp Randall sellout crowd reason to “jump around.”

Purdue punter Joe Schopper shanked a miserable punt that netted just 27 yards as Wisconsin took over at the Purdue 33 yard line. The generous field position was all the Badgers needed to get going.

Stave continued his fantastic accuracy with passes of 7, 4, and 19 yards setting up a first and goal at the Purdue four yard line. From there, Ogunbowale pounded it in, giving the Badgers some much needed breathing room at 17-7.

Wisconsin would put the game out of reach after they got the ball right back following yet another Purdue punt.

Stave was at his best here on the Badgers final scoring drive on the day. He carved up a worn-out Boilermakers’ defense, going 7 for 7 for 56 yards. For the second time Saturday, Ingold ran the ball in for the score, this time from 1 yard out making it 24-7.

Stave, despite the near pick-six in the first half, had a very quiet, yet stellar effort for the Badgers as the senior finished 30 of 39 for 322 yards. Stave nickel and dimed his way to his second consecutive 300 yard day as he and the Badgers longest pass play on the day was just 14 yards.

Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration

It marked the first time a Wisconsin quarterback had back-to-back 300 yard performances since former Badgers quarterback and Super Bowl champion Russell Wilson did so in 2011.

Senior #1 wide-out Alex Erickson continued his sparkling final season in Madison, finishing with nine receptions for 86 yards, which both lead the team.

Junior Robert Wheelwright had 6 catches for 61 yards for Wisconsin.

The Badgers did just enough on the ground to keep the Boilermakers defense honest for Stave. Wisconsin ran the ball 37 times for just 96 yards, a 2.8 per average.

Redshirt freshman inside linebacker T.J. Edwards was a man possessed for the Badgers, leading a total defensive effort. Edwards was outstanding, racking up 16 tackles, including a forced fumble and a tackle for a loss.

The Badgers defense held another opponent under 100 yards on the ground as the Boilermakers ran for only 55 yards. Purdue was unable to break one single big play, finishing with just 191 yards of total offense.

Wisconsin finished the game with a healthy 418 yards of total offense, while also winning time of possession 37:46 to 22:09.

The Badgers, who hit on their goal of improving on their third down conversion rate Saturday (50%), will have to clean up the penalties next week against a much more capable opponent.

Wisconsin will face a big road test next Saturday when they travel to Champagne, Illinois to take on a talented Fighting Illini (4-2) squad fresh off their bye week. The game will kick off at 2:30 pm (Central Standard).