Thanks to solid season-opening performances from Tanner McEvoy and Melvin Gordon, plus a stout defensive showing, Wisconsin is leading LSU 17-7 at halftime of the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff at NRG Stadium in Houston.
The Badgers scored first, on a 45-yard rush (GIF here) from wide receiver Reggie Love (of all people). The play was a perfect playcall, as LSU's defense looked entirely caught off guard until Love had already reached top speed. That play capped a six-play, 76-yard drive, Wisconsin's first of the game.
That touchdown followed the first drive of the game; LSU gained 16 yards before being forced to punt. After Wisconsin's touchdown, the Tigers gained one first down on its first play before being forced into another punt.
The Badgers went six plays and 28 yards on the next drive, which freshman kicker Rafael Gaglianone capped with a 51-yard field goal, the first of his career.
Bonus points for this shimmy, too:
LSU needed just one play on the next drive to get onto the scoreboard, as quarterback Anthony Jennings connected with wide receiver Travin Dural on an 80-yard heave.
That 10-7 score held until the 7:36 mark in the second quarter, when Melvin Gordon capped a five-play, 31-yard drive with a 14-yard rush up the middle through a wide hole in LSU's defense. That was largely made possible by a fumble three minutes earlier, forced by linebacker Joe Schobert and recovered by safety Michael Caputo. Wisconsin was able to capitalize on LSU's mistake with a touchdown, something that seems a stark improvement from miscues of years past. It will be important to track how the Badgers fare in that area moving forward.
In total, this has to be considered a wonderful first half for Wisconsin. Sure, McEvoy hasn't been the most inspiring passer, finishing the first half 5-of-13 for 33 yards. But he managed the offense adequately and avoided mistakes, allowing Gordon (12 carries, 76 yards) and Corey Clement (seven carries, 26 yards) to work their magic. Wisconsin's defense has also been fantastic, limiting LSU to 137 total yards (remember, 80 came on that one touchdown) and six first downs. LSU switched quarterbacks to freshman Brandon Harris in the second quarter, looking especially eager to find a solution on offense.