Tag Archives: NCAA Football

Preview: Wisconsin Badgers Aim for Another 10 Win Season as a Healthy Clement Returns for Senior Year

BY DAN GARCIA

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

Despite a 10-win season and an exciting bowl victory against USC to bring their 2015 to a close, the Wisconsin Badgers certainly could have hoped for better luck last year. All season the Badgers fell victim to their injuries and costly mistakes, that without could have easily led to an undefeated season after their opening loss to Alabama.

Starting tailback and the Badgers’ most valuable player, Corey Clement, only logged 4 games played and just above 200 yards rushing for the season due to a sports hernia injury and a suspension from an off-field incident. As a result, the Badgers and their massive front line only averaged 150 rushing yards per game in 2015, which is more than disappointing by the team’s standards. And although QB Joel Stave was one of the rare consistencies for the team last year, it is hard to imagine if his few but notable mistakes at crucial moments, would have been avoided if he had Clement to relieve him of some of the offensive burden.

But even with their injuries, the Badgers still put up 10 wins last season and had a stellar defense that surprised many. The Badgers were just a couple scores away from an undefeated conference record and without the Iowa Hawkeye’s remarkable and surprising season last year, the Badgers would have won the Big Ten West and would have been playing for much more than the National Funding Holiday Bowl title.

So how about this season? Although the Badgers lost Joel Stave and their leading receiver, Alex Erickson, (to name a few) they are no better or worse off than most Big 10 programs this year. And where they lose their starting quarterback, they gain with a fresh Corey Clement, who many wondered would even see a 2016 season with the Badgers. With Clement back, hoping to make up for last year and increase his draft stock for next year, and of course that classic Grade A offensive line that has become a staple in Wisconsin football, you can expect big things for Wisconsin’s rushing game this year. Not only can you expect much more from Clement this year, but he should be a statistical dream for the Badgers this season.

Running game alone won’t win the Big Ten West for Wisconsin however, and with Stave gone, the QB battle between Bart Houston and Alex Hornibrook will be interesting. Head Coach Paul Chryst hasn’t picked his man yet, but Wisconsin fans should keep their fingers crossed that he gets it right the first time around, because their is no time to waste, as the Badgers open their season against LSU at the historic Lambeau Field on September 3rd, which should be an easier opening opponent than Alabama, but still no walk in the park either.

Houston and/or Hornibrook shouldn’t feel pressured into greatness though, because with the Badgers’ running game and the O-line providing great protection, the key for Wisconsin’s future starter should be not making big mistakes and providing Clement an occasional breather.

And now for the other side of the ball, the defense. After their loss to Alabama last year, Wisconsin’s defense gave up only 13 points in its next four games. Even in its heartbreaking loss at home to Iowa, the defense only gave up 10 points in a game where the offensive gave up 4 turnovers. The 2nd-ranked defense far exceeded anyone’s expectations and despite losing three starters in the secondary, the defense is definitely in a position to have another great year, even if not a 2nd-ranked year. Their 3-4 defense isn’t full of future NFL stars, but collectively they are a solid bunch that should get the job done and put the offense in a great position to get some major wins.

Overall, while you can’t predict just what may go wrong in terms of injuries/bad luck/crucial mistakes, Wisconsin should be in a great position this year to make noise in the Big Ten. Iowa won’t be the team they were last year and assuming Clement comes back as motivated as we expect him to be (and stays healthy of course), the Badgers will be the rushing machine that they once were and the favorite in the Big Ten West. Mix an unstoppable rushing program with the Badgers’ new stellar defense that they found in 2015, and you have one great football team. Replacing starters and finding answers at quarterback should all be questions that Wisconsin can answer before conference play begins, but a big win against LSU is crucial to get the season started on the right foot.

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

Their first big test: September 3rd vs. LSU @Lambeau Field

While the Badgers have struggled opening their season against SEC opponents in the past two years, things look to be different in 2016. Not only are they playing close to home in Green Bay, WI, at an historic stadium where most Badger players have dreamed of playing since they were kids, but they look better off this time around. In 2014 they suffered a disappointing comeback to the evenly matched LSU, but still a game they could have easily won. In 2015, they lost another virtual Away game in Texas, this time to Alabama, who at that point was clearly the better team. Fast forward to 2016 and the Badgers are practically playing a home game against an evenly matched team, who may not be able to pull the same comeback in front of a sold-out Green Bay crowd, if given the opportunity like they were two years ago.

Will they win the Big Ten West? Yes.

With Iowa expected to fall short of their season last year, Wisconsin is our favorite to win the Big Ten West this year. The East winner (whoever that may be this season) is likely to come ahead in the Big Ten Championship, but if Wisconsin makes it that far, they will definitely be in a good position to steal the conference championship and much more.

The difficulty of their conference schedule comes in its first three games (at Michigan St., at Michigan, home against Ohio St.). If they can win at least 2 of the 3, they will be in a great spot before they face Iowa on October 22nd, otherwise you can expect the winner of that game to eventually represent the West in the conference championship.

The 2 keys to success: Corey Clement and the Defense picking up where they left off.

Even with uncertainties at quarterback, Wisconsin’s offense will be just find if Corey Clement does as well as we expect him to. He will make Houston and Hornibrook’s job much easier if he stays healthy and dominates like he should. And if Clement keeps the Wisconsin defense off the field and well rested, the D can continue to build off their dominance in 2015. Again, don’t expect another 2nd-ranked defense (especially with the changes in their secondary), but with Clement making their job easier, they can have another outstanding year.

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.

 

Photos: Wisconsin Badgers v. Northwestern Wildcats

BY TER STAFF

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

Today winter came early, as we traveled to Camp Randall Stadium to watch the Wisconsin Badgers take on the Northwestern Wildcats in a chilly showdown. With five turnovers in the game, Wisconsin still had a chance to win it in the end, but coming short on the last play of the game and a few questionable calls led to a Wildcat victory, 13-7. Check out our game recap here!

Continue reading Photos: Wisconsin Badgers v. Northwestern Wildcats

Preview: Wisconsin Badgers Host Northwestern Wildcats

BY JEFF BERNIER

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

The injury bug hasn’t just bitten the Wisconsin Badgers (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) this season, it has burrowed into them and feasted. All season long, the Badgers have been decimated by injuries. The picture becomes a little clearer on Saturday as offensive minded tight end Austin Traylor and star running back Corey Clement are expected back when Wisconsin hosts the streaking Northwestern Wildcats (8-2, 4-2 Big Ten).

While Northwestern does head into their matchup with the Badgers on a three game winning streak, there are some questions about the legitimacy of the Wildcats #20 national ranking. The three game winning streak came after an 0-2 stretch that saw them lose to both Michigan and Iowa by a combined score of 78-10.

How they perform will go a long way in determining the Wildcats stay amongst the 25 nationally ranked teams. Ditto for the Wisconsin Badgers. Wisconsin does have the same record as Northwestern but sports a better conference record.

Despite allowing 24 points two weeks ago in their matchup at Maryland, the Badgers feature one of the nation’s stingiest defenses. Before the hiccup at College Park, the Badgers were allowing just 11 points per game to their opponents.

Northwestern, who has struggled mightily in recent weeks in terms of their aerial attack, will need a spirited effort from its freshman quarterback to have a shot in Madison on Saturday.

Clayton Thorson is just 14/27 for 140 yards passing, no touchdowns and an interception over his last two games. He remains a threat to run however averaging over 6 yards per carry over those same two games.

The ground is where the game will probably have to be won for Northwestern. No small feat considering the Badgers run defense is one of the most dominant in the country. Wildcats tailback Justin Jackson is third in the conference in rushing with 1,033 yards on the season, averaging a solid 4.6 yards per carry. The sophomore has racked up 302 of those yards in his last three games.

With Corey Clement back in the fold for Wisconsin, the Badgers have the clear advantage from the half back position heading into Saturday afternoon’s matchup. Dare Ogunbowale has done a fine job filling in for the oft-injured Clement. Alec Ingold, the Badgers goal-line weapon has too helped ease the pain of Clement’s absences.

Badgers senior quarterback Joel Stave will also benefit from the return of Clement, as he seems to be more comfortable with Clement in the game. It also provides Stave with another weapon through the air as Clement has become more adept at catching passes out of the backfield and turning them into net gains.

The way football games used to be won back in the day was pound the ball on the ground, play smash mouth defense while winning the field position game with solid special teams play. This old school style will be the key to victory for either team Saturday.

Turnovers will also be a key factor. Both teams take pretty good care of the football, but the Badgers defense turns other teams over at a spectacular rate, so the Wildcats will have to protect the football to have a shot. Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald believes it to be the biggest key to his team’s success.

“Don’t turn the ball over. That’s the bottom line,” said Fitzgerald.

The Badgers, who have made a name for themselves in how dominant they have been running the football in recent years, have found ways to win this season throwing the football. And that is a credit to Joel Stave, who despite missing three quarters of the game at Illinois, has been one of the few constants for Wisconsin and company this season.

His steady if unspectacular play from the quarterback position has not been lost on Pat Fitzgerald, who knows he’ll have to game plan for Stave just as much as Clement and Ogunbowale.

“Been really impressed by Joel. I think he’s really had a terrific season,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s had to shoulder a lot with the running back situation with guys being out … tight ends being out. But Joel has been the one consistent, really impressive aspect of what they’re doing offensively.”

Wisconsin defeated Northwestern 35-6 in their most recent matchup October 12, 2013.

The home team has won the last eight matchups in the Badgers meetings with the Wildcats.

Prediction: Wisconsin 31, Northwestern 9

Game time: Saturday, November 21, 2:30 PM on BTN, BTN2; Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI

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.

 

Preview: Maryland Terrapins Host Wisconsin Badgers

BY JEFF BERNIER

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

 

The Wisconsin Badgers (7-2) will matchup with the Maryland Terrapins (2-6) at Capitol One Field from College Park, Maryland. The game will feature two teams heading in opposite directions. The Badgers are looking to continue rolling to victories despite being decimated by injuries. The Terrapins are looking for their first conference win of the year.

Wisconsin is making its case for having one of the greatest defensive units in the program’s history. This group leads the nation in scoring defense, giving up just 11 points per game. If you take away the Alabama game, the group is surrendering just 8 points per game. The Badgers defense will be facing a Terrapins offense that is wildly inconsistent and features nearly no true playmakers.

The Badgers will have to deal with Maryland quarterback Perry Hills, who will be just the second mobile quarterback the Badgers defense will have played against this season. The other, Nebraska’s Tommy Armstrong, ran for 50 yards and a score. Despite his mobility, Hills has more interceptions than touchdowns on the year, 10 to 7.

Maryland senior running back Brandon Ross has run for 520 yards on the season, averaging an impressive 5.5 yards per tote. Maryland actually is averaging over 30 more yards per game on the ground than the Badgers. The Terrapins will have their hands full however, facing one of the best rushing defenses in the country in Wisconsin.

Outside of Hills and Ross, this is absolute nightmare of a matchup for Maryland.

The Badgers defense, which excels at getting turnovers, will face the most turnover prone team in the country. That’s right; the Terrapins are dead last in turnovers, leading the nation with 28. 20 of those turnovers have come in the team’s last five games, with nine in their last two games played.

Wisconsin’s defense also ranks fifth nationally in pass defense efficiency. Maryland’s offense is second to last in pass efficiency. If games were won and lost on paper, Maryland would be wise to simply forfeit this one.

Star running back Corey Clement returned last week in the Badgers drubbing of Rutgers. Despite just 11 touches, Clement made the most of them, racking up 115 yards and three touchdowns.

Despite not being 100%, Clement provides the Badgers a true top shelf playmaker. Simply put, Wisconsin is a better team with Clement, even if he is performing at only 80%.

Badgers senior quarterback Joel Stave, who has been steady this season, will look to crack 2,000 yards passing Saturday afternoon in College Park. Stave enters the game with 1,974 yards and nine touchdowns. His seven interceptions are somewhat of a concern, but the majority of them have come with the game already well in hand for the Badgers.

Senior wide receiver Alex Erickson continues to be the man for Wisconsin. A veteran of the Badgers offensive scheme, Erickson leads the team with 58 receptions and 748 receiving yards. His 58 catches are the most through nine games in Wisconsin Badgers history.

Wisconsin is still holding out hope of a chance at the Big Ten Championship game. For this to happen, Iowa will have to slip up, possibly twice. The Badgers will have to control what they can control, scoreboard watching notwithstanding. And that control will continue Saturday against Maryland. The game kicks off at 2:30 Central.

Prediction: Wisconsin 42, Maryland 6

Game time: Saturday, November 7, 2:30 PM on BTN, BTN2; Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium, College Park, MD

Photos: Wisconsin Badgers v. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

BY TER STAFF

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

Today we traveled to Camp Randall Stadium for a Halloween edition of college football, as the Wisconsin Badgers hosted the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers University. While many predicted Wisconsin to take home the W for their home crowd, almost no one predicted the margin of victory. This one was all Wisconsin, all the way, as the Badgers came out on top, 48-10. Read our game recap here and check out our photos of Wisconsin’s Big 10 victory below.

Continue reading Photos: Wisconsin Badgers v. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

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.

 

Preview: Wisconsin Badgers Host Rutgers Scarlet Knights

BY JEFF BERNIER

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

The banged-up Wisconsin Badgers (6-2) will welcome the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (3-3) to Camp Randall Stadium this Saturday for a morning matchup. Suffering from a seemingly never-ending rash of injuries, the Badgers will try to fend off a competitive Rutgers team hungry for a statement win.

Rutgers has a tough two game swing starting this weekend in Madison, and next week where they’ll travel to the Big House to face a big time Michigan team. They know it won’t be easy, and they don’t expect it to be.

“It’s not supposed to be easy. I don’t want it to be easy,” Rutgers linebacker Steve Longa said. “I want to see how I measure against the best out there and that’s what it’s about.”

The Badgers injuries have not since stopped since star running back Corey Clement went down after the Alabama game. The latest victim was center Badgers center Dan Voltz who some say is the best player on this talented Wisconsin offensive line.

The Badgers will also be without one of their top receiving weapons in Robert Wheelwright. The junior will miss several weeks after the injury that knocked him out of last week’s game against Illinois.

Senior quarterback Joel Stave, who missed the final three quarters of the Badgers win at Illinois last week, went through and passed all the concussion protocol this week. He will be the starter Saturday, despite a surprisingly effective day for backup Bart Houston a week ago.

Stave, who has been steady, will be a key cog Saturday for a Badgers team having to throw it a lot more than in recent seasons. Corey Clement remains questionable for the game.

The Badgers have averaged only 152.5 yards rushing per game this year. That’s good enough for just 11th in the 14-team Big Ten.

The Badgers, who are now Bowl eligible, know that all teams deal with injuries and that no one is going to feel sorry for them. Just ask head coach Paul Chryst.

“We’re not the only team in the country. But we’ve had our fair share,” said Chryst. “They just keep plugging away. I give our players a lot of credit.”

The Badgers will have to contain Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano who despite struggling of late, leads the Big Ten in completion percentage (67.2%).

The best running back talent this Saturday may come in the form of the Badgers opponent, something that is not usually a concern for Wisconsin. Rutgers tailback Paul James has averaged a spectacular 9.6 yards per carry over his team’s last three games. James, who tore his ACL last year, has indeed made a full recovery and will be one of the toughest challenges for this outstanding Wisconsin run defense.

The Badgers rank eighth in the entire nation in run defense, giving up just 97.3 yards per game. And if you take away the thrashing that came at the hands of Alabama, the Badgers are giving up a paltry 77 yards per game.

Third down efficiency has been the focus of late for the Badgers and they will need to continue their solid conversion rate to come away with another win Saturday. The Badgers have converted 53 percent of their third downs over the last two games; this after converting on just 39 percent over their first six.

Prediction: Wisconsin 17, Rutgers 10

Game time: Saturday, October 31, 11:00 AM CT on BTN, BTN2Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI

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.