Despite the abysmal weather, the Badgers took home a sizable win today in Madison, downing Rutgers 48-10. The game was highlighted by the return of Wisconsin running back Corey Clement, who went for 115 yards and three touchdowns, leading the team in both rushing yards and scores. Quarterback Joel Stave, who left last week’s game at Illinois with a concussion, played well, going 13 for 25 with 217 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. The Badgers were even better on defense, limiting Rutgers to just 10 points and putting constant pressure on multiple Rutgers quarterbacks. Rutgers’ only touchdown came on a pick six thrown by Stave, and they were limited to just 165 yards on offense and a field goal while in possession of the ball. In addition to a wildcat formation touchdown, Tanner McEvoy sacked and intercepted Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano, and midseason All-American Joe Schobert recovered a fumble. Here’s how the Badgers got the win today.

Stave’s Return. Despite one really ugly interception, Joel Stave looked confident and strong in the pocket today. Backup Bart Houston came in late in the 4th quarter to relieve Stave after the Badgers went up 48-10, ending Stave’s day at 13 for 25, 217 yards, a touchdown and two picks. One of the interceptions went for a pick six on a terrible pass, but the other was simply an unlucky tip off a Wisconsin receiver. Stave looked best when he was passing to Alex Erickson, who finished the day with 6 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. Erickson has 58 receptions this year, beating his mark of 55 from last year and leading the team by far. Troy Fumagalli shook off two early false start calls to finish the game with 3 catches for 55 yards.

Strategic Run Game. Corey Clement’s role going into this game was in question essentially until the game began. But Coach Paul Chryst did a fantastic job balancing his running backs, using Clement when he could and going back to Ogunbowale and Ingold when needed. This led to a Badgers rush attack that went for 209 yards total, by far one of the best performances of the season. Clement went for 115 yards and three touchdowns on just 11 carries, including a 12-yard touchdown run in the first quarter (his first touchdown since November 2014) where he was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for his celebration. Ogunbowale added a touchdown and 41 yards on 14 carries. Tanner McEvoy also scored on a 20-yard run out of the wildcat formation. Overall, Rutgers couldn’t stop the Badgers rush attack, which averaged 5.5 YPC on the day. After the game, Corey Clement gave the offensive line credit for a great day:

“I couldn’t ask for anything else from this game. The linemen did a great job executing.”

Clement’s return seemed to brighten the presence of the whole offense, whose 48 points marked their second-best offensive performance of the season and by far their best performance in a Big Ten game. Joel Stave commented on Clement’s return:

“It’s fun to see one of your best players on the field again.”

Rutgers Head Coach Kyle Flood also remarked on Clement’s return.

“Corey is one of the better running backs in the country. He’s an excellent football player, so that didn’t surprise me that he would be effective when he went in there.”

RB Dare Ogunbowale mentioned that Clement was in a bit of pain towards the end of the game, and Clement himself said he was only feeling about “85%” throughout the day. His usage is something to monitor over the next few games, as it’s yet to be seen whether he will return to first-string duties at any point this season.

Lockdown Defense. Once again, the Badgers limited an opponent to 10 points or less. It’s the 6th time they’ve done that this season in just nine games. The Badgers let up a field goal on a 13-play, 55-yard drive in the 1st quarter, but their play changed after that. Linebacker Jack Cichy, who started the first game of his collegiate career after Chris Orr was sidelined with an injury, said after the game that Defensive Coordinator Dave Aranda fired up the defense and emphasized finishing tackles for the rest of the game. From then on, the Badgers did not allow a point on defense, limiting Rutgers to just 26 more yards in the first half and just 63 yards total in the second half. Cichy, who led the team with 8 tackles, told reporters after the game that he found out via text on Monday that he’d get the start.

“It felt good,” Cichy said. “I was definitely nervous, but after the first play, all those jitters went away.”

Chryst also praised the defense after the game, saying they play well as a team.

Other Notes

  • Linebacker Chris Orr’s injury is “day-to-day…ish”, according to Chryst.
  • Badgers limited Rutgers starting QB Chris Laviano to 4 for 14, 31 yards and an interception. Backup Hayden Rettig was 2 for 6 for 51 yards.
  • Corey Clement scored his first touchdown since November 29th, 2014 vs. Minnesota.
  • Wisconsin went 8 for 16 (50%) on third down. They were also 5 for 5 in the red zone.
  • Rutgers won in TOP, 31:52 to 28:08.
  • Rafael Gaglianone went 2 for 2 on the day, hitting from 49 (season high) and 27 yards out. He’s now 13 for 20 on the year.
  • Tanner McEvoy entered the media room dressed as Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights, and began his post game with a line from the movie.

Photos by Rebecca Haas (sconniesportstalk.com)