Tag Archives: NCAA Football

Preview: Wisconsin Badgers Go on the Road to Face the Illinois Fighting Illini


Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
When the Wisconsin Badgers (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) travel to Champagne, Illinois Saturday to take on the Fighting Illini ( 4-2, 1-1 Big Ten), it’ll mark the first time in a quite a while where the game will mean this much to both teams.

The Badgers will need a big road win in order to keep pace with Big Ten leading Iowa. The Fighting Illini, despite canning their head football coach less than a week before the season even began, are also in the running.

Despite facing an abnormal amount of injuries this season, the Badgers have been able to hang their hat on their outstanding defense to win ball games. Wisconsin currently ranks seventh nationally in total defense, giving up just 272.4 yards per game. Wisconsin has also only given up 10.9 points per game, with only 2 of their 7 opponents thus far being able to score more than 10 points in a game against them.

Current Illinois head football coach Bill Cubit knows the challenges his team’s offense will face when they line up against Wisconsin on Saturday.

“The Edge guys and their linebackers are so active,” Cubit said. “They’ll find out what your protection is and they’ll find a way to get their best player on your worst player.”

Illinois is no slouch defensively either, as the Fighting Illini rank 30th nationally in total team defense, allowing only 332.5 yards per contest.

The Badgers are hoping to get a big boost from their star running back Corey Clement, who hasn’t played a down since the opening game at Alabama. Clement will be a game time decision for the Badgers.

Despite missing arguably their most valuable offensive player for much of this season, the Badgers have still had a good enough run game to where opponents must game plan for that part of Wisconsin’s attack.

Dare Ogunbowale and Taiwan Deal have filled in nicely for the Badgers, combining for over 800 yards and eight scores through seven games.

If Clement cannot go Saturday, look for the Badgers to continue to pass the football. Senior quarterback Joel Stave is having a fine senior season. Stave has completed 62.3% of his passes while on pace for a 3,000 yard season. Senior #1 receiver Alex Erickson comes into the game with 42 receptions for 549 yards, but just one touchdown. He and junior Robert Wheelwright, who leads the Badgers with three touchdown receptions, remain the favorite targets for Stave.

Wisconsin ranks fourth in the Big Ten, averaging 251 passing yards per game. After Clement went down with injury, Stave knew he’d be relied on much more within the Badgers offense.

“I knew we would have to throw it a little more,” noted Stave. “We’d have to be more balanced.”

Illinois will for sure be without its star tailback Josh Ferguson. The senior, who will miss his second straight game with a shoulder injury, has ran for nearly five and a half yards per carry. The Fighting Illini are very thin at running back. Freshman Ke’Shawn Vaughn will assume much of the load Saturday where he will face one of the best run-stopping defenses in the country in Wisconsin.

Illinois is just 1-9 against Wisconsin in their last 10 meetings. The lone win came in 2007, a 31-26 upset in a season that saw the Fighting Illini make it to the Rose Bowl.

Prediction: Wisconsin 28, Illinois 13

Game time: Saturday, October 17, 2:30 PM CT on BTN, BTN2Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL

Photos: Wisconsin Badgers v. Purdue Boilermakers


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

Today we traveled to Camp Randall Stadium, as the Wisconsin Badgers hosted the Boilermakers of Purdue. It was all Wisconsin all the way, as the Badgers dominated Purdue throughout their 24-7 victory. As expect, the Badger stuck to the run and the Boilermakers had no answer. Read our game recap here and check out our photos of Wisconsin’s Big 10 victory below.

Continue reading Photos: Wisconsin Badgers v. Purdue Boilermakers

Recap: Wisconsin Badgers Defeat Purdue Boilermakers, 24-7


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).

Photos: Wisconsin Badgers v. Iowa Hawkeyes


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

Today we traveled to Camp Randall Stadium for the Big 10 opener of the 19th ranked Wisconsin Badgers and the Iowa Hawkeyes. Staying undefeated, the Hawkeyes took home the Heartland Trophy in this hard fought rivalry match up. Although both teams looked sloppy throughout, the game went down to the final seconds as Wisconsin failed to convert in the redzone on 4th and 2, down by less than a touchdown.

Read our game recap here and check out our photos Iowa’s Big 10 victory below.

Continue reading Photos: Wisconsin Badgers v. Iowa Hawkeyes

Recap: Iowa Defeats No. 19 Wisconsin to Take Home the Heartland Trophy, 10-6


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

Madison, WI — Today’s battle for the Heartland Trophy consisted of two very evenly matched teams – both in style and productivity. The name of the game for Wisconsin (3-1) and Iowa (4-0) is to make your opponent beat you between the trenches. Run until your opponent wears out, begins to cheat, then drop back and throw one deep.

But one of many similarities between these two programs is the ability to stop the run. Going into today’s game Wisconsin didn’t allow a single touchdown the past three weeks, and no Iowa opponent has been able to score a single rushing touchdown.
The Badgers won the toss and elected to receive. It didn’t take long to realize Badgers head coach Paul Chryst isn’t scared to deviate from the previous week’s game plan – even after a dominant performance.

Unlike the strategy against Hawaii one week earlier, Wisconsin sought to balance the run with quick passes, running just four times and passing for five on their opening drive.

Wisconsin v. Iowa

Dare Ogunbowale started things off with a two yard run up the middle. Film would suggest another run to setup a third and short situation for Stave. However, Stave dropped back and threw to Alex Erickson for a first down. Knowing the toughness of Iowa’s defense, Chryst opted to pass on second and long throughout much of the game in an attempt to avoid as many third down situations as possible.

This strategy worked well against Iowa in the opening drive as the Badgers were able to put three points on the board.

Iowa decided to stick to the strategy that has worked for them all season. Having a superb quarterback in C.J. Beathard, they are a situational offense.

When second and eight or more, the Hawkeyes pass 80% of the time, and they pretty much stuck to this formula the entire game. Like opponents in previous weeks, it worked well against Wisconsin as the Hawkeyes were able nail a 27 yard field goal on their second drive.

The Hawkeyes would then score again after a Stave fumble, giving Iowa the lead 10-3 going into the second half.

Wisconsin v. Iowa

The Badgers didn’t have any luck reaching the end zone; Something very different from previous weeks. It would turn out that any scoring for the Badgers was left up to kicker Rafael Gaglianone. His leg seemed to be on point, going 2/3 with all attempts from 42 yards or more.

But down by four mid-way through the third quarter the Badgers knew relying on Gaglianone alone would not win the game. For a moment, it looked as though their luck had changed when Beathard fumbled the ball when scrambling to avoid a rush. Wisconsin recovered the ball with excellent field position.

However, with just two yards to go Stave fumbled the ball for the second time, and the Hawkeyes were able to avoid a Badgers touchdown.

The Badgers were unable to put anymore points on the board but were miraculously still in it late in the fourth quarter. The game came down to the very end. With less than a minute left and deep in Iowa territory, the Badgers had plenty of time to make a play and win the game.

But unfortunately for Stave and company, with 40 seconds left on fourth and two, a failed pass attempt ended the Badgers chances of a comeback win and the Hawkeyes defeated Wisconsin 10-6.

Both teams must address the turnover issue going into their next game. With a total of seven turnovers, both Iowa and Wisconsin fell victim to critical interceptions and fumbles. This is especially significant for two organizations who play somewhat conservative ball to begin with.

Preview: No. 19 Badgers Host Rival Hawkeyes in Big Ten Opener


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

It has been somewhat of a slow start to the running game by Wisconsin football standards, but last week the Badgers (3-1) seemed to finally settle into the adjustments made on the ground after Corey Clement’s injury a few weeks ago. The Badgers (3-1) put on quite a show, blowing out Hawaii (2-2) 28-0 and putting up over 200 yards running for the first time this season.

A true test of the run game comes this week in Wisconsin’s conference opener against the Iowa Hawkeyes (4-0). Iowa has allowed 84.0 rushing yards per game and is just one of two teams who have yet to allow a rushing touchdown. With such a dominant run defense, Kirk Ferentz will try to set the tempo by shutting down Wisconsin runners Dare Ogunbowale and Tawiwan Deal as early as possible.

Thus, the key to a Badgers victory this Saturday may very well have to come through the air. After a rocky (and at times abysmal) 2014 season for Stave, the 6′ 5” 225lb senior seems to be playing like a smart, more experienced quarterback. He currently has the highest completion percentage of his collegiate career, and if he can keep from turning the ball over, could capitalize on opportunities from defenses who focus too much on the Badgers’ run attack.

Stave had great success against Iowa the last time these two teams met, going 11-for-14 for 139 yards at Kinnick Stadium. It was a crucial victory for Wisconsin, as defeating Iowa (and Minnesota one week later) secured them a spot in the Big Ten Championship.

Other than the 35-17 loss against Alabama (3-1), Wisconsin opponents have yet to score more than three points a game, with two of Wisconsin’s opponents unable to put any points on the board what-so-ever.

However, the days of playing Miami (OH), Troy, and Hawaii are over, and Big Ten play begins.

Iowa has, arguably, the best quarterback the organization has had in a very long time in C.J. Beathard. He’s efficient, accurate, and can run if need be.

Bearthard’s deep ball, however, isn’t as fine tuned as the rest of his play. He’s missed key scoring opportunities when going deep and has thrown some questionable long-balls. Should he throw one up, expect Badgers backs to go beyond preventative defense and attack the passing game in an attempt to create turnovers.

But as Badgers and Hawkeyes fans know, this game isn’t just about improving your spot in the ranking or getting a conference victory; Its a storied rivalry dating back to 1894. As-of-date, these two teams have met on the gridiron a staggering 79 times with the Badgers leading 44-42-2 (.511).

For Paul Chryst this rivalry is especially significant, having experienced it as a player, offensive coordinator, and now head coach for the Wisconsin Badgers. The rivalry aspect of this game was certainly a part of Chryst’s game preparation.

“Yeah, we’re going to talk about it, and I think it’s important” Says Chryst, “It’s one of the neat things I think that here at Wisconsin we have is we do have trophy games, and it’s part of the history of this program and tradition, and I want our guys to understand it and embrace it, so we’re definitely going to talk about it.”

The Badgers will host Iowa this Saturday at Camp Randall. If history tells us anything, this game will be an aggressive, no-holds-barred meeting between two great football programs.

Prediction: Wisconsin 28, Iowa 13

Game time: Saturday, October 3,11:00 AM CT on ESPNCamp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI

Photos: Wisconsin Badgers v. Hawaii Rainbow Warriors


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

Today we traveled to Camp Randall Stadium to see the No. 22 ranked Wisconsin Badgers host the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. While Hawaii’s defense gave Wisconsin more of a challenge than its last couple opponents, Wisconsin defense again stole the show, shutting out Hawaii for a 28-0 victory.

Read our game recap here and check out our photos from the Saturday night showdown at Camp Randall below.

Continue reading Photos: Wisconsin Badgers v. Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

Recap: No. 22 Wisconsin Badgers Leave Hawaii Rainbow Warriors Scoreless, 28-0


Wisconsin v. Hawaii
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration

There’s something about playing under the bright lights for a night game that can bring out the best in teams and players. The stage-like atmosphere is an adrenaline rush. The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (2-2) and the Wisconsin Badgers (3-1) squared off at Camp Randall Stadium on a mild 70 degree Saturday night. Feeding off a frenzied college crowd, the Badgers made it three wins in a row as they defeated the Rainbow Warriors 28-0.

Hawaii received the opening kickoff. After a huge sack on a safety blitz by Wisconsin resulting in a 10-yard loss on second down, Hawaii was looking at a long third down. On third down and 15, senior quarterback Max Wittek was able to convert out of the pistol formation on a 27-yard strike to Quinton Pedroza near midfield.

On the next set of downs, the Rainbow Warriors promptly went three and out, having to punt to Wisconsin. Unlike their first two home games in which they struggled mightily on their opening possession, Wisconsin put together a very Badger-like drive. They pounded the ball with authority with Dare Ogunbowale and Taiwan Deal, the Badgers new top rushing tandem. Wisconsin capped their first possession with a 2-yard rush into the heart of Hawaii’s defense for the game’s first touchdown.

Hawaii features a 3-4 defense which is a rarity these days in college football. And maybe that was the key, as the Rainbow Warriors defense gave the Badgers fits the entire first half, surrendering just 14 points.

Wisconsin v. Hawaii

It would have been only seven, save for a late touchdown by Wisconsin with just 38 seconds remaining.

The Badgers defense forced a Rainbow Warriors punt with just 2:11 remaining in the first half. Badgers senior quarterback Joel Stave was just 4-10 passing to that point. Stave would go 4-4 on the final drive of the half, leading the Badgers down the field for a nine play 73 yard scoring drive that made it 14-0 after two quarters of play.

With Taiwan Deal looking unstoppable all half, it was Stave who lead the crucial drive in the final minutes of the first half.

Facing third down and 2 from their own 47-yard line, it was Deal who sprinted for a 17-yard gainer to keep the drive alive. After a holding penalty on first down, making it first and 20, Stave completed consecutive passes of 12 and 9 yards for another first down. A perfectly thrown ball from Stave to Erickson, which resulted in a defensive passing interference call in the end zone, set up Deal’s second two yard touchdown run.

Wisconsin v. Hawaii

With both teams struggling to score despite getting into each other’s territory in the second half, it was the Badgers who broke through late in the third when Stave connected with senior tight end Austin Traylor. Traylor has succeeded Robert Wheelwright as Stave’s favorite target in the red zone.

The pass and catch play came on third down and 11. It was a big play for Wisconsin to gain a little breathing room over Hawaii as they hadn’t been able to pull away to that point. That play sealed it for Wisconsin.

The Badgers defense has been absolutely dominant over the past three games. They haven’t surrendered a single touchdown in their last 12 quarters of play, giving up a total of three points in their last three games played.

They held the Rainbow Warriors to just 15 yards rushing on Saturday night; this after holding Miami (OH) and Troy to a combined 78 yards on the ground.

Paul Harris had just 22 yards on 6 carries. Quarterback Max Wittek was effective, finishing 189 yards passing. Hawaii just couldn’t finish the job when they got into the red zone.

Wisconsin v. Hawaii

Freshman back Taiwan Deal was the man on this night for the Badgers. Deal rushed for 147 yards on 26 carries, getting into the end zone twice.

Dare Ogunbowale played second fiddle this week and chipped in with 85 yards on 15 carries. Ogunbowale put the cherry on top for the Badgers with a 9-yard pitch carry for the last points of the game.

Stave had a quiet game after two brilliant efforts against Miami (OH) and Troy. The senior finished 14/23 for 164 yards and a touchdown. Stave and the Badgers did not turn the ball over.

Senior Alex Erickson had a big day for Wisconsin, catching 9 passes for 87 yards. Many of the catches kept drives alive for Stave and company.

The Badgers have hummed right along without their star running back Corey Clement. Things may be different once conference play begins for the Badgers next week. Will the Badgers continue to pass as much as they have been? Can Ogunbowale and Deal remain this effective when the quality of opponents ramp up? Head coach Paul Chryst and the Badgers certainly hope so.

The Wisconsin Badgers will now turn its attention to next week, where they will finally begin conference play when they host the Iowa Hawkeyes (4-0) at Camp Randall Stadium at 11:00 am Eastern. The game will be broadcast on both ABC and ESPN networks.

Preview: No. 22 Wisconsin Badgers Host Hawaii Rainbow Warriors


Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration
The Wisconsin Badgers (2-1) seem to be biding their time prior to conference play beginning in just two weeks, taking care of business against both Miami (Ohio) and Troy after their solid effort versus Alabama in week one.

The Badgers final pre-conference-play test will come against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (2-1) this Saturday night (7:00 pm Central) from Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin.

The team received some unfavorable news this week when it was announced star running back Corey Clement will now be out four to six weeks due to sports hernia surgery. Clement has not played a snap since week one against Alabama, sidelined with a groin issue.

It’s a good thing the Badgers have this guy named Joel Stave. The senior has been brilliant thus far, powering Wisconsin with a robust and diverse passing attack; a strange site in the Capitol after years of dominating opponents on the ground. This allows for far more options from the team’s playbook.

“We’ve done a good job at pushing the chains a little bit and get bigger runs on first down,” Stave said Monday. “In doing that, you open up your playbook.”

Stave has been even more impressive inside opponent territory, racking up 227 yards and six touchdowns versus no interceptions when throwing inside the opponent 40-yard line.

Dare Ogunbowale and Taiwan Deal will now continue to shoulder the load in the Badgers ground game. Seen as temporary fill-ins, the tandem will now be counted on well into conference play. The two have combined for 339 yards rushing in three games.

Look for the pair, as well as Stave, to have a big day. The Rainbow Warriors have allowed a staggering 381 yards per game to their opponents.

Hawaii senior quarterback Max Wittek is coming off one of his best games as a collegiate, throwing for a career high 272 yards at a nearly 71% completion rate. Wittek also threw for two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Junior wide receiver Marcus Kemp is a player to watch. The six-foot-4 Kemp will be a tough matchup for the Badgers, coming off a five reception 119 yard effort in Hawaii’s 47-27 victory over UC-Davis last week.

Opposing Ogunbowale and Deal on the ground for Hawaii will be running back Paul Harris. The junior is also coming off a brilliant effort last week, racking up 141 yards on just 11 carries.

The Badgers run defense has been dominant so far this season, so Harris will have to earn his keep.

Hawaii is seen as a very physical, hard-hitting team. Badgers head coach Paul Chryst has seen the game tape. He knows what to expect when the Rainbow Warriors suit up at Camp Randall Stadium Saturday night.

“I think it’s one of their strengths,” said Chryst. “I think they’re a team that loves the physical part of the game and they’ve got some guys that — I think their schemes play to that and I think they’ve got some really good football players.”

Wisconsin leads the all-time series against Hawaii five games to one.

Saturday night’s game will mark just the second time the Rainbow Warriors have every played in Madison.

Prediction: Wisconsin 38, Hawaii 14

Game time: Saturday, September 19, 7:00 PM CT on BTN, BTN2Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI (Buy Tickets)

Photos: No. 24 Wisconsin Badgers Defeat Troy Trojans


Wisconsin v. Troy
Photo by Dan Garcia/The Early Registration

Today we traveled to Camp Randall Stadium to see the No. 24 ranked Wisconsin Badgers host the Trojans of Troy University. While Troy stayed competitive throughout the first half, at the end of the day Wisconsin dominated through its defense, still not giving up a touchdown since Alabama. Our photographer Dan Garcia captured some of the game’s best moments.

Read our game recap here and check out our photos from the Wisconsin’s impressive performance over Troy below.

Continue reading Photos: No. 24 Wisconsin Badgers Defeat Troy Trojans