The Wisconsin football team had a big test waiting for them in Madison with their first home Big Ten football game coming against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Although they were beaten down by Michigan earlier this year, Rutgers came in sporting an impressive defense and an offense that took care of the ball.
It was a slow start to the game, but a Ricardo Hallman pick-six with just four seconds left in the first half changed the game around completely. Instead of going into the half with a slim one-possession lead, the Badgers had a 17-0 advantage. The Badgers’ defense held true for the entire second half as well, helping Wisconsin football improve to 2-0 in Big Ten play with the 24-13 victory.
Badgers Defense Leads Wisconsin Football Over Rutgers
Wisconsin’s Rushing Attack Comes Alive
The Wisconsin offense looked a lot like the one Badgers fans have come to know and love. The Badgers ran the ball for over 213 yards on 46 carries. While they weren’t breaking any crazy long runs, with their longest going for 18 yards, they were consistently getting the better of Rutgers. The fatigue clearly caught up with the Scarlet Knights in the second half and gave the Badgers’ defense some much-appreciated rest between series.
Saturday’s game was a good start for the Badgers, who have had trouble finding space on the ground for long stretches of time earlier this season. While they will certainly face tougher defenses in future matchups, it’s nice to see them finding some continued success over long periods of time.
Offensive Grade: B
Defense Comes Up Clutch in Key Moments
The defense for the Wisconsin football team has looked good in spurts this season, but they have had trouble keeping teams in check for quarters or halves at a time. Against Rutgers, they flat-out balled.
Not only did they hold Rutgers scoreless in the first half, but they gave up just one first down in Rutgers’ first five possessions. Although the Scarlet Knights were able to move the ball down the field in their last possession before the half, Ricardo Hallman jumped a bad pass and returned it 95 yards to the house for a huge defensive touchdown.
Although the defense did give up 13 points in the second half, seven of those came after a fumble by Tanner Mordecai deep in Wisconsin territory. Rutgers doesn’t have the best offense by any stretch of the imagination, but they are a team that takes care of the football. The fact that the Badgers were not only able to hold them in check but also force two turnovers is a step in the right direction.
Defensive Grade: A
Wisconsin Football Week 6 Preview: vs Iowa Hawkeyes
Next week, the Badgers have their first true Big Ten test with the Iowa Hawkeyes coming to Madison, Wisconsin. Iowa has already suffered their first Big Ten loss at the hands of Penn State. If the Badgers can get a win over Iowa, they will find themselves two games ahead of the Hawkeyes with the tiebreaker in hand. Although there would be a lot of football left to be played, that would be an almost insurmountable lead to come back from.
Iowa’s offense is nothing to write home about, but their defense is once again one of the best in the country. The key to beating Iowa is getting out ahead early. If Wisconsin can limit turnovers and get on the board early, Iowa will have a tough time crawling its way back.