It was a slow start for the Badgers offensively, who scored just 10 points through the first 29 minutes of the game, but cornerback Ricardo Hallman caught a major break with a 95-yard pick-six to break the game open.
Defensively, the Badgers contained the run(more on that in a minute), and effectively shut out quarterback Gavin Wimsatt, leading to a comfortable victory that wasn't as close as the score indicated.
Here are three quick takeaways from the Badgers 24-13 win over Rutgers.
After an early field goal drive, the Badgers struggled offensively, with Braelon Allen having 22 yards on seven carries at one point.
Early on, it was clear that Rutgers was selling out to defend the run, playing a ton of man coverage, which stalled the Badgers’ run game.
That prompted me to call for more quarterback-design plays to keep the Rutgers defense on their toes, forcing them to account for the zone-read.
Offensively, would like to see some quarterback-designed runs implemented.— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) October 7, 2023
Rutgers selling out to stop Braelon Allen.
Opens up possibility of some nice gains on the keeper and keeps the defense on edge.#Badgers
Well, those happened with higher frequency later in the second quarter, as Mordecai had a massive keeper for 18 yards that helped set up a redzone opportunity.
While there weren’t as many quarterback keepers called, Mordecai’s rushing threat as a scrambler has to be noted.
In the game, the quarterback had nine rushes for 60 yards with gains of 9, 10, 10, and 14 on different carries.
The Badgers’ signal-caller’s pocket presence has been a pleasant addition, and Mordecai’s ability to extend plays with his mobility has added an extra layer to the offense.
Wisconsin should continue to implement that element into the offense.
Braelon Allen led the way with 21 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown, but Jackson Acker was the big takeaway out of the backfield, proving his worth with a 13-carry, 65-yard performance that also involved a catch where the running back forced a defender to miss.
With Chez Mellusi out, the Badgers needed another body in the room to take on that No. 2 role, and Acker impressed with a major day on Saturday, taking on a fairly big workload and all of the backup running back snaps.
Acker’s physicality and strength were going to be his strong suit, but the Badgers’ running back worked well behind his blockers and ran hard, muscling forward after contact for extra yardage.
If the Badgers can see the contributions that Acker presented Saturday weekly, then they could be in good shape at the running back position down the stretch, while still featuring Allen in a prominent role.
You have to give credit to the Badgers for the way they handled the run game on Saturday.
Yes, Rutgers quarterback Gavin Wimsatt was unimpressive with a 15/34 performance for 165 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.
But, the run game was going to be tough to stop, as the Scarlet Knights came into the game averaging nearly 200 yards on the ground, and the Badgers limited Rutgers to 67 yards on 3.2 yards per carry.
It was a collective effort, as a number of players, ranging from linebackers to edges to the interior lineman made key stops in the run game to limit plays, with tackling being as good as it’s been on Saturday.
The Badgers will ultimately face bigger threats down the line like Ohio State, but this victory should provide them the necessary confidence with the way the defense held up on the ground, shutting down the Rutgers offensive attack.