The defense held the Trojans' offense to only 255 total yards and out of the end zone -- the second consecutive game the Badgers have not allowed a touchdown.
The offense rode the arm of redshirt senior Joel Stave and the passing game. Stave finished 13-of-17 for 202 yards and two touchdowns (one passing and one rushing) with no interceptions. The rushing game continued its progression -- running for 68 yards in the first quarter and finishing with 199 overall.
To discuss the Badgers' lopsided victory, our writers break down Saturday's game.
THE GOOD: What went well for Wisconsin against Troy?
Neal Olson: This was a challenging game to identify a standout ‘good' aspect. Even though I never felt like Wisconsin was in danger of losing, almost every phase of the game was middle of the road. Sure, the running game flashed improvement in spurts, but more offensive drives ended in punts than touchdowns or field goals, so I just can't bring myself to pick that.
Instead I'll go with true freshman inside linebacker Chris Orr. Filling in for junior Leon Jacobs after being ejected over a questionable targeting penalty, Orr finished with 11 tackles and was disruptive all over the field. It remains to be seen what his role will be going forward, but Orr showed he was more than capable of playing at a high level. and warrants more snaps on defense. His future will be one to keep an eye on.
Jon Arens: When you open the season playing a team like Alabama, and then play three weeks in a row of teams like Miami (Ohio), Troy, and Hawaii, you are going to have a game where you play down to your opponent. Hopefully, this was that game. Aside from the run of redshirt senior quarterback/safety/wunderathlete Tanner McEvoy, there was little to be excited about following this effort. Nobody got hurt. That is a huge positive. Redshirt freshman Taiwan Deal had a run of over ten yards and generally looked much more spry than at any point so far in his younger career. Another positive. As Neal mentioned, Orr had a huge day in an unexpected role. Young players with very few reps stepped up to the proverbial plate this week and proved they are more than grainy Hudl videos.
Jake Kocorowski: It wasn't the most picturesque or dominant victory, but the Badgers establishing the run early and making more strides from the past two weeks was a positive development. Ten of the first 12 plays on those first two drives were runs, and against the Trojans defense who has given up 250-plus yards in its first two contests -- they should have. Couple that with another solid Stave performance -- completing over 75 percent of his passes for 202 yards and no turnovers with another efficient two-minute offensive series -- and the offense was solid, not spectacular, in its phases.
The defense held its own and didn't allow any huge plays beyond a 23-yard completion. Senior outside linebacker Joe Schobert had another big day with that strip-sack that changed momentum in the third quarter and put the game officially out of reach. After the Alabama debacle, the offense has allowed only 412 total yards. They should have that dominance against inferior offenses like the RedHawks and Trojans, but five turnovers forced to only one given up the past two games is a positive development for defense coordinator Dave Aranda's squad.
THE BAD: What went wrong versus the Trojans?
Neal: Is it sour grapes to re-hash the targeting ejections? It is? Ok then, moving on...
More from the Game
More from the Game
I thought the decision by Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst to punt on 4th-and-2 (but really a yard and a half) from the Troy 48-yard line was bad. Regardless of the outcome (a punting booming into the endzone, a touchback and 28 yards of field position) even lining up to punt was a strange choice. Especially considering earlier in that same drive Chryst elected to go for it on fourth and one from Wisconsin's own 42-yard line and got a first down.
Punting instead of going for it on 4th-and-short near midfield is usually a tricky decision, but after going for it in earlier in the same drive on your half of the field, it was downright mind boggling. I hope the decision to punt was more a reflection on Chryst's current lack of trust in the run game and not an overriding breakdown in game decision making. The run game will eventually be fixed, but questionable game managing is far more challenging to remedy.
Jon: This game was so boring, you have to look at things like a fire alarm going off and think to yourself, "Was this a coincidence, or was this done by a beat reporter who really needed a good lede and headline for their gamer? "No cause for alarm in tilt with Troy". I know what you did, beat reporters. We need to investigate this fire alarm. Very fishy.
More seriously, Troy did a good job spreading the ball around offensively in a way that is not often seen in the Big Ten. Troy quarterback Brandon Silvers is no slouch, and has only thrown three interceptions in his career. Silvers was able to move the ball, often with very advanced routes from their receiving corps. But even while Troy gained ground through the air, the Badgers' defense did not allow a touchdown for the second consecutive week. Wisconsin needs to get better production on first and second downs to avoid stalling drives in tricky positions on the field. Both Deal and redshirt junior Dare Ogunbowale have been running inside on the majority of their runs so far this season. Without a healthy mix of outside attempts, the Badgers will become predictable and it will result in longer and longer third downs, which is not ideal for this young receiving corps, even with the improved play of Stave. Three games in the season, I cannot recall a Badger running back group with fewer long runs. That is somewhat concerning.
Jake: The third downs converted by Troy in the first half wasn't stereotypical of the Badgers' defense we've known over the past two seasons, and coming into the game -- held Miami (Ohio) and Alabama to 9-of-29 coming into the game. Give credit to Troy and Silvers being quick in delivering the ball and moving the chains with short passes in converting 4-of-8 opportunities early on.
TEAM MVP: Who deserves the honors this week?
Neal: Tempted to go with Orr, but instead I'll go with Schobert. "Joe the Show" has been nothing less than spectacular through three games this season. He is currently third in the country with 7.5 tackles for loss. He added 2.5 more against Troy, including a sack and strip on the Trojans opening second half drive. At the time Wisconsin held a 14-3 lead, and Troy was threatening another score just outside the red zone. After the fumble, the Badgers marched down for a touchdown to go up 21-7. Schobert's forced turnover squashed any hopes Troy had of an upset.
Jon: Fine! I shall go with Orr. Fourteen tackles -- 11 solo in your first full game while wearing what appeared to be long underwear is ridiculous and deserves recognition. It was 70 degrees! How did you not overheat? These are the important questions. Wisconsin has had many good linebackers over the years, but last linebacker I can recall making that sort of impact as a freshman was Chris Borland. If Orr has half the impact Borland had while wearing red and white, the Badgers are in great shape. Honorable mention to both Stave and McEvoy, who continue to play considerably better than they did last year.
Jake: Schobert gets the nod here. Along with Stave, Ogunbowale, and redshirt senior Alex Erickson, Schobert's a former walk-on who's currently leading the team in a particular category this season. Schobert leads the team in tackles (25), tackles for loss (7.5) and sacks (4) so far through three games. His strip-sack against Troy was the play of the game, which set up the Wisconsin drive ending with McEvoy's 32-yard touchdown. He recorded six more tackles -- 2.5 for loss -- as well. Stave is the runner-up for being Mr. Consistent this season -- especially with the two-minute offense that produced yet another touchdown before halftime.
UP NEXT: Hawaii -- what would you like to see out of the Badgers next week under the lights of Camp Randall Stadium?
Neal: Ideally Corey Clement would suit up and get some live reps prior to the Big Ten opener against Iowa, but that seems like a stretch at this point. I would also like to see Tanner McEvoy get more involved on offense. The last two games he spent a majority of time on defense. He unquestionably makes the defense better, but I would not be surprised to see him get a few more snaps out of the "TannerCat."
Heading into the season, it was assumed most of McEvoy's use on offense would be at wide receiver. But the direct snap has added a new dimension to the Badger's attack. The run game will certainly come around, Stave has experienced the Chryst effect at quarterback to elevate the passing game and now McEvoy's versatility adds one more thing for defenses to worry about. Now this is purely speculation, but what if Chryst can improve McEvoy's passing (like he does every quarterback) and we will see some true dual threat action by McEvoy? Now that is something to look forward to.
Jon: I agree with Neal - it would be ideal for Clement to get some action in this game, but he will most likely be held out. Thankfully, as was highlighted by B5Q's Maxwell Brusky last week, three week stretches like this, where Wisconsin plays literally nobody, will be a thing of the past after this Hawaii game. Fans deserve to see the Badgers play in games where you do need to play players like Clement, and that is not what this Hawaii game represents. By all accounts, Hawaii has an above average defense and well above average uniforms -- but that should mean nothing as the Badgers generally maul people in home night games. The most important metric in this one will be when does section K fill up. I will be setting the over under on that at midway through the third quarter. This will be the second night game this year that I watch whilst at a wedding, and I expect to be entertained accordingly. Looking at you, Tanner. Keep doing things, you unstoppable monster.
Jake: Getting Clement some carries to warm him up for conference play would be nice. Honestly, and this'll be "coachspeak," but look to see how Wisconsin continues to improve from this week to next. They'll face a Hawaii team 93rd in the nation in run defense (188.7 yards per game), so Wisconsin has an opportunity to yet again build on those blocks solidified in the run game the past two weeks.
Defensively, Hawaii quarterback Max Wittek's thrown four interceptions already this year (none against UC-Davis last week but two each against Colorado and Ohio State), and the offensive line's already given up seven sacks on the season. A focus on creating turnovers is a huge initiative for the Badgers this season, and they could disrupt the Warriors' offense.
Most importantly, however, is to stay healthy. An improved Iowa team with wins against Iowa State and Pitt comes into Camp Randall Stadium the week after on Oct. 3, which is shaping up to be one of the key match-ups already in the first conference game of the year. The Badgers will need to be near full strength come conference season for them to win their second consecutive Big Ten West division crown, especially with some of the improvements still needed from this team.