MADISON -- Junior linebacker Vince Biegel and the No. 24 Wisconsin Badgers' defense knew they had the opportunity to correct some mental mistakes when looking at the film after their 35-17 loss to Alabama last Saturday.
"I think you'll see that on Saturday is getting things corrected in the middle of the defense, getting things corrected on the outside and just clean up stuff -- and make that defense thrive," Biegel said Wednesday.
On Saturday, defensive coordinator Dave Aranda's squad did just that.
Forcing four turnovers total (one on special teams) and allowing only 157 yards, the Badgers' defense -- along with another solid passing game led by Joel Stave -- overwhelmed the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks in a 58-0 victory Saturday afternoon at Camp Randall Stadium.
The defense -- with redshirt senior safety Michael Caputo returning to start -- dominated the up-tempo, pace spread offense Miami (Ohio) runs from the beginning. The Badgers pressured the Redhawks as UW was credited with four quarterback hurries and three sacks, with the rest of the defense stopping the Redhawks nine times behind the line of scrimmage. On top of that, the Badgers intercepted three passes, two by redshirt junior safety Leo Musso.
The Badgers also limited the big plays. After allowing touchdowns of 37, 56 and 43 yards against Alabama, the longest play the Redhawks ran was 26 yards. The defense also held Miami (Ohio) to -3 yards rushing.
"Certainly, defensively, we did a lot of good things. Did a heck of a job against the run and got some takeaways. That was big," Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst said after his first win as Badgers head coach.
Stave finished the day 19-of-30 for 236 yards with three touchdown passes and one interception -- hitting junior wide receiver Robert Wheelwright for two touchdown passes-- with the offense tallying 451 yards compared to the 268 against Alabama just one week early.
Stave, former walk-on from Greenfield, Wis., hit six different wide receivers on the afternoon. Wheelwright provided the much-needed complement, albeit for one game, to redshirt senior Alex Erickson -- as the two combined for 11 catches for 152 yards.
"I'm really happy with the way he's able to play today," Stave said.
"I think he's someone who we've always had a lot of confidence in, so to be able to see him healthy and playing at his full potential right now -- I think he's showing just how good a player he can really be."
The running game took a step forward, though there is still plenty of room for improvement. The Wisconsin offense only gained 58 yards on the ground in the first half on 21 carries, under three yards per carry. With the game already out of reach in a 37-0 advantage at halftime, the Badgers kept their first-team offensive line in -- mixing combinations of Micah Kapoi, Walker Wiliams and Hayden Biegel at right guard and right tackle.
Ogunbowale -- who ended the day with 112 yards on 16 carries -- capped a 14-0 third quarter with 35-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter behind Kapoi and Williams on the right side of the line. In that quarter alone, the Badgers ran or 98 yards on 11 carries. The Badgers total accumulated 114 yards in that frame as well.
Chryst noted the run game was inconsistent early on, but improved in the third quarter. It's a building block for the remolding line to grow from a week ago, where the Badgers only managed 40 yards on 21 carries.
"It's still not perfect, obviously," Voltz said, who noted they had a few adjustments to make at halftime but maintained it was more the mentality of reinforcing the run game.
"We still have some things to work on, but we took a step forward and that's what we're looking to do today."
The Badgers rolled to a 37-0 lead in the first half after a slow start during the first quarter where they did not capitalize on early miscues by the RedHawks. Though Wisconsin put up 13 points in the first quarter -- including a 13-yard touchdown to Wheelwright -- opportunities arose with two turnovers by Miami (Ohio) put them in prime position to add on to their advantage, but only led to three points.
Stave and the offense took advantage in the second quarter, putting up 24 points on an overwhelmed Miami defense. Their first drive of that quarter -- eight plays, 42 yards in 2:56 -- ended with the former walk-on hitting senior tight end Austin Traylor for a 20-yard touchdown pass.
The defense held the RedHawks to only 84 yards total in the first half -- 90 passing, -6 rushing -- while only allowing six first downs.
After redshirt senior Tanner McEvoy -- who played at both wide receiver and safety -- made an easy read and intercepted a pass to take the ball to the Miami four-yard line, redshirt freshman running back Taiwan Deal plunged in from the one-yard line and a 27-0 lead. The Badgers deployed a jumbo package with Kapoi, Williams, and Biegel lined up on that right side.
The Badgers two-minute offense looked sharp against a tired Miami (Ohio) defense, scoring 10 points at the end of the second quarter. Stave drove the Badgers for a touchdown in nine plays, 93 yards in a 1:58 -- hooking up with Wheelwright once again for a 15-yard strike.
Aranda's defense held again, forcing its third true three-and-out possession of the first half, allowing Wisconsin to drive 31 yards in only four plays and 21 seconds. Though Stave missed Wheelwright for what would have been a third touchdown connection, sophomore kicker Rafael Gaglianone knocked it through for 38 yards to end the half.
Though the running game still looked sluggish in the first half and other errors will need to be fixed, the team appears to have put the Alabama game in the past and now looks on to facing Troy next Saturday.
"All in all, certainly pleased and appreciate the effort that went into this victory," Chryst said, "and looking forward to growing and learning from the tape and moving on next week."