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Notebook: Wisconsin dominates all aspects of game vs. Akron

Emptying out the notebook (and camera) following Wisconsin’s big win.

NCAA Football: Akron at Wisconsin Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The Wisconsin Badgers dominated Saturday’s win vs. Akron thoroughly, with all three phases performing well... with the exception of one punt return. Head coach Paul Chryst spoke to that after the game:

“I had a lot of respect for Akron coming into this game and I still have a lot of respect for their team and their coaching staff.”

The Wisconsin offense had a historic day, as for the first time since 1996, the Badgers ran and threw for more than 290 yards. The offense was nearly completely balanced, rushing for 294 yards while passing for 292.

“This is what we strive to be week in and week out,” sophomore center Michael Deiter said. “Not too run-heavy, and not too pass-heavy.”

It started on the ground for Wisconsin, with Corey Clement rushing 21 times for 111 yards and two touchdowns. Clement, who left the game late in the second quarter with what appeared to be a dinged left ankle, said afterward that “If the game was closer, I would have played. But seeing that we were up a lot, there no use in risking it.” Clement spearheaded a rushing attack that was reminiscent of the types of performances that built the Badgers’ program to its current status.

Senior quarterback Bart Houston threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns on the day, and really settled in after a tough start. While the rest of the passing offense performed well, Troy Fumagalli, the hero of last week’s LSU win, was held to 15 yards on two catches. Houston said that “he was double-teamed most of the game, so that allowed [Jazz Peavy and Robert Wheelright] to have big days.”

Senior running back Dare Ogunbowale said that converting on third downs was a major emphasis for Wisconsin this week. The Badgers were 10-of-15 on the Saturday, much improved from a week ago vs LSU, when the Badgers’ offense sputtered to 3-for-15 .

Defensively, the Badgers turned the Zips over twice and recorded their first safety since 2014.

Derrick Tindal forced the first turnover after Akron’s Warren Ball had run for 38 yards. Tindal came from behind him and punched the ball out. “I just saw that he was holding the ball with no ball security and I was thinking I should punch it.”

Tindal also touched on the defense creating turnovers: “We have a lot of pride... we already know what we came here to do. We came into the season expecting to execute.”

Leo Musso had Wisconsin’s second turnover, an interception on the Badgers’ 9-yard line that killed another threatening drive by Akron. Musso said Akron tried to use the whole field (different from LSU’s approach) and that put more pressure on the Badgers’ defense this week.

Junior defensive lineman Alec James recorded the safety, which swung momentum back toward Wisconsin after Akron’s defense held on a 4th-and-goal near the end zone. The safety increased the Badgers’ lead to 9–0, and the next drive resulted in a Wisconsin touchdown to make the score 16–0.

“They slid pretty hard on the line and I back-doored it, and my teammates made him step up and I was just there to make the play,” James said.

Two games into his Badgers tenure, defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox’s defense has forced five turnovers, the most in the first two games since 2002, when the Badgers forced nine turnovers against Fresno State and UNLV.

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Video is becoming a bigger and bigger focus for our staff members at B5Q. For every game, practice, press conference and event we cover, we aim to capture some video that conveys the key essence of whatever went down. Here’s what we captured from Wisconsin’s post-game availability following the win over Akron: