The Wisconsin Badgers (7-2, 4-1) relied on the passing game for the majority of the 2015 season, to the tune of over 250 yards per game -- compared to racking up just over 150 yards on the ground.
Running back Corey Clement returned and helped balance an offensive attack that rolled up 209 yards rushing on the afternoon. In his first action on the field since the season-opener against Alabama, the junior gained 115 yards on just 11 carries with three touchdowns. He also accounted for a 58-yard run that set up a four-yard scamper by redshirt junior Dare Ogunbowale in the third quarter.
"It felt great to be back out there," Clement said after the game Saturday. "I couldn't ask for anything else from this game. My lineman did a great job and just executing. I think this whole process has allowed myself to slow the game down a lot more and become more patient. When I got into the end zone, I forgot how to act. It's been a long road I've been on. I've been itching to get back out there and play some football."
UW had to rely on two players, redshirt junior Dare Ogunbowale and true freshman Alec Ingold -- both who converted from other positions in the past two seasons, to carry the load in both Clement's and most recently Taiwan Deal's absences. They filled in admirably with a depleted backfield, especially Ogunbowale -- a former walk-on who's become a receiving threat out of the backfield -- but Clement's attributes set him a part from anyone else on the Wisconsin roster, and for that matter, many backs in the nation.
"He's got a little bit of everything," redshirt senior fullback Derek Watt said after the game Saturday. "He's a physical guy but at the same time he can make you miss. He just works hard and he brings a lot to the table and you never know what he's going to do. He's got some shaking and he's got some physicality as well."
Clement's "unique set of skills," particularly his patience, shined through his three touchdown runs.
First touchdown: 9:27 left in first quarter, 12-yard touchdown run
Wisconsin's already up 3-0 and driving in the red zone. Clement's about eight yards back from the line of scrimmage (LOS), while the Badgers are in 21 personnel with twins left (two wide receivers left). Redshirt senior Derek Watt, technically noted as a fullback, initially lines up with redshirt sophomore Troy Fumagalli to the right side in motion (first picture). Rutgers counters with their 4-3 look with their right defensive tackle in a 3 technique (to the outside eye of the right guard), with their defensive end head up on Fumagalli (a 6 technique).
Watt, getting some looks at H-back last year under former offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig, lines up with a similar look initially. Watch where Watt lines up in each of the three touchdowns, as all three touchdowns go to the side he's blocking on. He motions left more to the backfield in an offset I-formation about four years behind the LOS between junior right guard Walker Williams (62) and redshirt freshman Beau Benzschawel (66).
With the snap, Williams takes the defensive end, who's crashing down, out of the play to the left. Fumagalli's one-on-one against the end. Both center Michael Deiter (63) and right tackle Beau Benzschawel (66) get to the second level, which is key to block the linebackers trying to plug the gaps. Watt grabs the outside linebacker.
Clement gets the rock, but watch how Fumagalli's end crashes down from the pic below to the one immediately thereafter There appears to be a hole between Williams and Benzschawel at first, but closes quickly. Here's where Clement's patience takes hold. He waits for Fumagalli to steer the end down the LOS with his momentum, then cuts it up the field. Benzschawel clears his guy, and with the safety left alone -- Clement heads into the end zone for his first touchdown of the season untouched.
Second touchdown: 3:30 left in second quarter, 21-yard touchdown
The Badgers line up in a fun look -- it's 31 personnel for the Badgers, with Watt and redshirt sophomore fullback Austin Ramesh (20) lined up to the left but outside left tackle Tyler Marz. Count the number of potential blockers on the strong side, including the center (that's six of them).
Ramesh, Deiter and Marz all pull left on the pitch to Clement -- a potent convoy as Ramesh and Watt -- who was lined up in a tight end look already -- get the outside defenders. Fumagalli crashes down with Marz hitting the second level.
Clement takes it to the second level quickly, one of his and rumbles 21 yards for another touchdown.
Third touchdown: 8:52 left in third quarter, 1-yard touchdown
Wisconsin lines up in technically in a 32 look. Ramesh is in the backfield as a "true" fullback, with Watt lined up to the far left but in a tight end look. The Badgers also brought in what appears to be an extra offensive lineman to the inside of Watt and outside of Marz (though it's No. 84 -- I can assure you it's not 6', 166-pound true freshman Andrew James).
On the snap, Williams pulls left, with Ramesh leading as well.
Clement's patience shows again. He waits for Williams to engage with the blocker in front of him, then bursts ahead. With his physicality and ability to get to that second level, he barrels in for his third touchdown of the game.
Clement mentioned he was at about 85 percent for the game, and it showed on his 58-yard scamper in the second half with not being able to take it the four extra yards for what would have been his fourth touchdown of the game. Regardless, a not-completely healthy Clement added that extra spice to the offense -- its gamebreaker it's sorely needed this season.