The Wisconsin Badgers (7-2, 4-1) received a balanced offensive attack with the return of junior running back Corey Clement in its 48-10 win on Saturday against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (3-5, 1-4) at Camp Randall Stadium.
Head coach Paul Chryst's offense outgained Rutgers 426-165, with UW gaining 209 rushing yards and 217 passing yards. Clement played for the first time since the season opener against Alabama, and made an immediate impact, gaining 115 yards on 11 carries and three touchdowns.
Along with the defense shutting down yet another offense, not allowing an offensive touchdown to an opponent this season, it was a dominant performance that left no doubt the Badgers would pick up the win by halftime.
The Good: What went well for Wisconsin versus Rutgers?
Neal Olson: It is hard to imagine Clement's return to the football field going much better than it did against Rutgers. Clement's patience and explosiveness helped pave the way for several of his longer runs including the first two touchdowns. The running lanes have not been huge this year behind a still-learning offensive line. Clement's ability to wait for the crease and then accelerate to space is a welcomed addition to an offensive that has struggled to open up holes consistently. Even though Clement is not quite full strength(no way a healthy Clement gets caught from behind), he brings a much needed game breaking element.
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More on the Game
Jon Arens: 2015. The year Wisconsin beat all the teams it was supposed to beat. That being said, even I was a little shocked that Clement could make *that* much a difference to this team on offense. He showed patience, and even more importantly, home run hitting ability that this team has not had all season. I have no idea if Rutgers is good, just ok, or absolutely terrible, but a blowout at home is always a welcome sight.
Curt Hogg: I've said it before and I'll say it again: someone give this defense the keys to the city. We've almost come to expect the Badgers keeping the opposing offense silent all game, and their performance against Rutgers made them the top scoring defense in the nation. Obviously, Clement was great to see in his return, but this defense just continues to dominate.
Kevin O'Connell: Having Clement back was obviously huge for the Badgers and his presence gave Wisconsin more long, explosive runs than I can remember all year. The offensive line continues to improve, as they created huge running lanes for Clement all game. Overall, Wisconsin just took advantage of an overmatched Rutgers team that has been outscored 97-17 in its last two games.
The Bad: What left more to be desired from the Badgers' performance?
Neal: Finding faults in a 48-10 victory seems like picking nits of the highest order. However, considering Rutgers has not exactly emerged as a powerhouse since joining the Big Ten, anything less than comfortably winning would have been a disappointment. If there was one thing to be concerned with it, the interceptions from redshirt senior quarterback Joel Stave would be it. The pick six was especially disheartening. You would expect better decision making from a four-year starting quarterback.
Jon: Have to agree with Neal on this one. The pick six was brutal and the kind of throw you do not expect a seasoned veteran like Stave to make -- but at this stage in the game, you know you are going to get one of those every two games or so. this section might have been a lot longer if Rutgers was not down their best player, wide receiver Leonte Carroo.
Curt: Stave had a bad throw. I mean, a baaaaaaad throw. Aside from that, the usual redzone offense nitpicking can't really be mentioned because the Badgers finished drives well.
Kevin: It was a pretty perfect performance from Wisconsin on both sides of the ball, minus Stave's pick six. But I would have liked to see them air it out a bit more against a weak Rutgers secondary, but with the way Clement was running it made sense why they stuck to the ground game.
Team MVP: Does a certain New Jersey native get the nod today?
Neal: There is absolutely no question Clement was MVP of the game. As evident by his 15-yard celebration penalty on his first touchdown, it was a long seven weeks of only watching football for him. And in a nice bit of serendipity his return came against his home state university. Clement now has scored nearly a quarter of his career 21 touchdowns against Rutgers, as well as rushing for over 100 yards both games.
Jon: With all due respect to the incomparable Alex Erickson, Clement and Tanner McEvoy are the two most electric athletes on the field and having them both active is huge for a team that has struggled to force mismatches on either side of the ball. You have to wonder what type of player McEvoy is going to morph into on the next level, especially given the strides he has made this year.
Curt: It's hard to say which player impacted the game more: Clement on 11 carries or McEvoy on both sides of the ball. So I'll pick a tie. McEvoy is finally in a role where he can be best utilized. Two rushes and a touchdown of offense. A sack and interception on defense. Just a great day from to "Jersey Boys."
Kevin: Man, is it good to have Clement back. We saw what an impact he can make when he's healthy, and we haven't seen that efficient of a game (11 carries, 115 yards) since a guy named Melvin Gordon was still in cardinal and white.
Who's next: Maryland. What do you want to see out of the Badgers besides crab cakes and football (CAUSE THAT'S WHAT MARYLAND DOES BEST)?
Neal: There has been growing sense of confidence from the offense since the Illinois game. No doubt having Clement back will help even more. It has been nearly a month since the Badgers could muster only six points against Iowa. While no one will confuse this offense for the 2011 Russell Wilson led squad, the improvement they have shown is a great testament to the coaches and players. Another road test against Maryland will be a great opportunity for continued progress.
One last thought...is there anyway we can arrange a winner take all for Diamond Stone? No? Ok, just thought I'd ask. I'm over it, REALLY, I swear.
Jon: Wisconsin is going to be playing a team with a lame duck, interim coach for a third week in a row, so, yea, this schedule continues to provide little interest to anyone looking for competitive football. I watched the Terps get housed by a limited Iowa team Saturday, and expect much of the same this upcoming weekend. Maryland quarterback Perry Hills will run on you (he did so to the tune of 104 yards against the Hawkeyes), so the Badgers will have to make sure they have eyes on the Terps signal caller. It will be important for the Wisconsin offense to score early, as Maryland is not a team built to make a comeback. Points on the first two drives, followed by a heavy dose of Clement, would likely put the game away early. This schedule really is one of the worst I have ever seen. Instead of playing Illinois, Rutgers, and Maryland, Barry should've just scheduled a fourteen quarter game against Iowa. I could watch Iowa-Wisconsin games forever.
Curt: It won't take an incredible effort for the Badgers to win this game, but you would like to see them pull ahead early and coast, just like they did against Rutgers. It would be nice to see Stave play a clean game without any turnovers -- or even any balls that should be intercepted.
Kevin: Maryland has lost five straight and don't seem to be a team that will give Wisconsin too many problems, even at home. We'll see a lot more of Clement and this game presents another opportunity for the offensive line to gain even more confidence heading into the latter part of the schedule. Outside linebackers Vince Biegel and Joe Schobert should continue to cause havoc behind the line of scrimmage against a Maryland offense that ranks 110th out of 128 FBS teams.