MADISON, Wis. – If you were feeling nostalgic for the days of a traditional Wisconsin run offense, today’s game brought you back to the glory days.
As a whole, Wisconsin rushed for 294 yards and four touchdowns. Starting running back Corey Clement ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns. Clement would end up having to leave the game with what seemed to be a non-serious left leg injury.
“Corey has gotta be that. He’s gotta be a guy that you can put it on his shoulders,” Coach Paul Chryst said of his senior running back and Clement’s role moving forward.
“I would have played if it was closer, but seeing how we were up a lot, why risk it,” Clement said following the game. “I had to be mature about the situation not being selfish or greedy about how many more carries I could have had in the game.”
Although the run game was on track, the Badgers were able to balance the attack with Bart Houston going 15 for 22 on 231 yards and two touchdowns.
“He gives us a chance [to make plays] and that’s what we love about him,” Rob Wheelwright said on the play of his quarterback.
Defensively, Wisconsin seemed to toe the line of bend but didn’t break as almost every big play for Akron was followed up by a turnover. Redshirt junior OLB T.J. Watt lead the way with three total tackles and one sack.
“[I’m] definitely very happy. [I] wish we could have gotten out there a little bit more. [I] saw the time of possession and the offense had the ball a lot and that’s good for our defense,” Watt said. “It was fun to go out and execute against a great team like that especially with an air raid offense.”
Wisconsin’s first offense drive saw a heavy dose of Clement. His first two runs from scrimmage were 11 and 13 yards respectively. Akron’s defense seemingly had no answer as Wisconsin’s offense rolled for 57 rush yards on the first drive alone and ended with a Clement touchdown.
Despite a near interception, quarterback Bart Houston was able to keep calm and throw for 21 yards on the first drive.
On the second offensive drive for Wisconsin, Houston also came back from an almost interception by connecting with Rob Wheelwright for a 47 yard pass. Wheelwright would end the day with four receptions for 99 yards.
“We just keep pushing each other to see who’s getting the most yards this game and Fumagalli showed us up last week so we told Fumagalli that ‘you’re not the only one who can make a catch,'” Wheelwright said.
Coach Paul Chryst didn’t shy away from gutsy calls by going for it on fourth and goal on the one yard line. Clement was ultimately stopped short of a touchdown but the defense would soon make things right.
After a false start and offensive pass interference penalty defensive end Alec James sacked Akron quarterback Thomas Woodson for a safety making it 9-0 Badgers.
In the second quarter, Wisconsin quickly put another seven points on the board after a one-yard touchdown by Corey Clement. Another quick three-and-out for the Akron offense saw the Wisconsin offense back on the field, only to see them punt for the first time of the game.
The big defensive play in the second quarter was a forced fumble coming from cornerback Derrick Tindal. Akron running back Warren Ball broke off a huge run for 38 yards with multiple Badgers missing tackles. Pushing into redzone territory, Tindal punched the ball out and into the hands of Sojourn Shelton who ran the other way with it for Wisconsin, ending an momentum that the Zips were about to have.
When all was said and done, Wisconsin’s defense held the Zips to only 224 total yards of offense and only allowed one third down conversion. Wisconsin’s offense contrasted Akron’s with 586 total yards and converted 10 of 15 third down attempts.
An ensuing offensive drive for Wisconsin would see Houston complete his first touchdown pass of the season to Jazz Peavy. This would start to become a familiar trend for the Badgers as the two would connect for a 34-yard score before the end of the half. Peavy had a huge game, getting 100 yards on seven receptions and also added two touchdowns.
“We have a lot of weapons on offense and this week it was Jazz’s turn,” Houston said.
Wisconsin quickly got the ball back though after an interception by safety Leo Musso. Although the defense ended up not allowing up a single offensive touchdown by Akron, Musso sees room for improvement.
“There’s always areas to improve and that’s just the truth,” Musso said after the game.
Later in the quarter, Akron would score their first and only touchdown on a punt return. Earlier in the game, Wisconsin had poor kick coverage on a kickoff and also kicked a ball out of bounds, the special team woes continued on the botched punt coverage.
“You’re always learning, it takes everyone. Those are big swings of momentum,” Chryst said on the punt return touchdown.
To end the first half, Wisconsin’s defense stopped Akron in their redzone holding them to a field goal making it 30-10.
The second half was dominated by long sustained drives by Wisconsin’s offense and short, ineffective drives by Akron’s, brought about by Wisconsin’s stout defense.
Even after the second teamers came into the game, the Badgers continued to roll. Redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook went 4-4 for 26 yards on the first drive and sealed it with a six-yard touchdown pass to fullback Alec Ingold. The running game also helped sustain the drive with the help of Taiwan Deal who ended the day with 12 carries for 58 yards.
The Badgers offense refused to let up in the fourth as on the next offensive drive, Hornibrook would connect on a 35-yard pass to freshman wide out AJ Taylor to set up a one yard touchdown run for fullback Austin Ramesh. The score made it 47-10. But they weren’t quite done yet.
Getting his first game action of the season, T.J. Edwards made his presence felt, getting a sack on Akron’s first offensive drive of the half. Edwards ended the day with two total tackles.
On what would be the last scoring of the day for Wisconsin, redshirt freshman Bradrick Shaw broke off a 35-yard touchdown showing great speed as he out ran three Akron defenders on his way to the endzone.
With Shaw’s touchdown, the final score was set. Wisconsin won 54-10, outpacing Akron in every aspect of the game and played like the number ten team in the nation should for all four quarters. Shaw would finish with 74 yards on nine rushes.
Next week, Wisconsin takes on Georgia State at Camp Randall next week. Kickoff will be a 11:00 CST.