“If we can find a way to score one more point than our opponent, that’s big,” head coach Paul Chryst said last Monday leading up to Wisconsin’s game against Illinois this weekend.
Wisconsin certainly picked up the points needed in their 48-3 win over Illinois.
“That’s what’s fun about football, it takes all 11,” Chryst said of the team effort in Saturday’s win.
Best run performance of the season
A huge element of Saturday’s game was the improvement in the Wisconsin run game. While Chryst still brought in the quarterback rotation, the run game is what really solidified that strong Wisconsin win.
Both Corey Clement and Dare Ogunbowale finished with over 100 yards. The last time that occurred was in the 2015 when Melvin Gordon and Clement went over 100 in the Outback Bowl. Clement finished with 25 carries for 128 yards and three touchdowns Saturday, averaging 4.9 yards a carry. Ogunbowale finished with seven carries for 104 yards, averaging a whopping 14.7 yards a carry. Bradrick Shaw also saw time with 19 carries for 85 yards, mostly in the second half, and Taiwan Deal had six carries for 41 yards.
“Dare is always phenomenal once he gets in,” Clement said after the win. “You never know what he’s going to do but it’s always something spectacular. He breaks off a long run when you need it. Then we’ve got Bradrick and Taiwan back in the mix so I’m excited to see what this running back group can do. I feel like we haven’t played our best game yet, and that’s the best part about it.”
Turnovers on turnovers
The Wisconsin defense was able to intercept the Illinois offense a total of four times. That is more than what Illinois entered the season with (3). On three of the four interceptions, the offense was then able to convert into points with a total of 17. Attention to detail and consistent focus in practice is what led to such huge defensive plays on Saturday.
“Anytime you can win the turnover margin, that’s huge,” said safety Leo Musso, who had two interceptions.
Ryan Connelly and D’Cota Dixon also came away with interceptions against Illinois quarterback Jeff George Jr., who finished the game completing five of 16 throws for 79 yards and four interceptions.
The Wisconsin defense played as they normally do, with big plays and an aggressive mentality. Vince Biegel, who ended up playing far into the fourth quarter to the dismay of some, finished with a tackle for a loss and a quarterback hurry after having several quiet games leading up to Saturday.
“Whether it’s a close game or a game like today, as a defense we want to come in and have the same approach,” Biegel said.
“We just want to create takeaways,” he continued. “We had some great opportunities [today.]”
The defense was able to hold Illinois to only eight first downs, 61 rushing yards and 79 passing yards.
Red zone efficiency
Chryst has stressed throughout the season the need to produce in the red zone, something they executed on against Illinois. The Badgers went five for five in red zone scores. Illinois, on the other hand, went one for one.
“No one did something they weren’t capable of,” Chryst said. “The team executed.”
That execution has to continue in the last two games of the season and into the possibility of championship and bowl games.
“We’ve got to push the reset button and have another good week,” Chryst said.