CFN Take: Wisconsin Blasted By Buckeyes

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 6, 2014


Wisconsin Badgers 2014 - Big Ten ... Head Coach: Gary Andersen

Wisconsin Badgers

2014 Schedule
Record: 10-3

Aug. 30 LSU (Houston) L 28-24
Sep. 6 Western Illinois W 37-3
Sep. 13 OPEN DATE
Sep. 20 Bowling Green W 68-17
Sep. 27 South Florida W 27-10
Oct. 4 at Northwestern L 20-14
Oct. 11 Illinois W 38-28
Oct. 18 OPEN DATE
Oct. 25 Maryland W 52-7
Nov. 1 at Rutgers W 37-0
Nov. 8 at Purdue W 34-16
Nov. 15 Nebraska W 59-24
Nov. /22 at Iowa W 26-24
Nov. 29 Minnesota W 34-24
BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP
Dec. 7 Ohio State L 59-0
Dec. 6 Big Ten Championship
Ohio State 59, Wisconsin 0

And You Care Because … In an absolutely dominant performance, Ohio State started scoring on its first drive and didn’t stop, with Devin Smith catching a 39-yard touchdown pass and Ezekiel Elliott followed it up with an 81-yard scoring dash. Smith added touchdown grabs from 44 and 42 yards out, and Elliott ran for a 14-yard score, but it the exclamation point came on a four-yard Melvin Gordon fumble return for a touchdown from Joey Bosa for a 38-0 halftime lead. Curtis Samuel added two fourth quarter touchdown runs.
What Else? Ohio State QB Cardale Jones completed 12-of-17 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns, and ran eight times for nine yards
- Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon ran 26 times for 76 yards
- Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott ran 20 times for 220 yards and two scores, and Devin Smith caught four passes for 137 yards and three touchdowns
- Total yards: Ohio State 558 – Wisconsin 258
Game Rating: D

Nov. 29 at Wisconsin 34, Minnesota 24
And You Care Because … After a rocky start – getting down 17-3 with Mitch Leidner and David Cobb each running for scores – Wisconsin controlled things the rest of the way going on a 31-7 scoring run with Melvin Gordon catching a four-yard touchdown pass and running for a one-yard score, and Joel Stave putting the game away on a 17-yard touchdown pass to Robert Wheelwright after Leidner brought the Gophers to within three in the fourth on a two-yard Leidner run. Corey Clement added a 28-yard touchdown run for the Badgers and Rafael Gaglianone nailed field goals from 24 and 38 yards away.
What Else? Before suffering an apparent ankle injury late, Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon ran 29 times for 151 yards and a score, and caught two passes for four yards with a touchdown
- Minnesota RB David Cobb ran 25 times for 118 yards and two scores
- Wisconsin WR Alex Erickson caught five passes for 160 yards
- Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner completed 5-of-18 passes for 95 yards, and ran 15 times for 54 yards and two scores
Game Rating: B

Nov. 22 Wisconsin 26, at Iowa 24
And You Care Because … Melvin Gordon passed the 2,000-yard mark on an 88-yard dash, and Wisconsin set up a showdown with Minnesota for the Big Ten West title, but it was a fight. The Badgers had a 19-3 lead late in the third quarter helped by a 45-yard Tanner McEvoy run and a six-yard Gordon score, but Iowa got hot and rallied back with Jake Rudock finding Kevonte Martin-Manley for a 20-yard score and running for a three-yard touchdown to pull within two. A 23-yard Gordon run helped but Wisconsin back up by nine, but Rudock rallied the Hawkeyes back with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Jake Duzey with just over five minutes to play. The Badgers, up two, were able to run out the clock.
What Else? Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon ran 31 times for 200 yards and two scores, and caught four passes for 64 yards
- Iowa QB Jake Rudock completed 20-of-30 passes for 311 yards and two scores, and ran seven times for 25 yards and a score
- Wisconsin QB Joel Stave completed 11-of-24 passes for 139 yards
- Total yards: Iowa 412 – Wisconsin 405
Game Rating: B+

Nov. 15 at Wisconsin 59, Nebraska 24
And You Care Because … Melvin Gordon set the NCAA single-game rushing record with 408 yards and four rushing touchdowns, but it took Wisconsin a little while to get rolling. Mistakes – including Gordon fumbles – led to a 17-3 Nebraska lead as Tommy Armstrong found Kenny Bell for a 12-yard touchdown and ran for a five-yard score, and then it was all Badgers as they scored 56 straight points highlighted by Gordon runs from 62, one, six and 26 yards out. Corey Clement and Tanner McEvoy added touchdown runs, and Sam Arneson caught a five-yard scoring pass, while the Wisconsin defense stopped the Husker offense time and again.
What Else? Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon ran 25 times for 408 yards and four touchdowns
- Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah ran 18 times for 69 yards, and caught one pass for 26 yards
- Total yards: Wisconsin 627 – Nebraska 180
- Turnovers: Nebraska 5 – Wisconsin 4
Game Rating:
B
Nov. 8 Wisconsin 34, at Purdue 16
And You Care Because … Melvin Gordon ran for a 14-yard score and took a pass 27 yards for a score as Wisconsin got up in the first quarter and stayed there. Joel Stave threw two touchdown passes, and Tanner McEvoy ran for a 13-yard score as Wisconsin always had an answer for Purdue points. The Boilermakers got three Paul Griggs field goals including bombs from 53 and 52 yards out, and Akeem Hunt caught a 79-yard touchdown pass for the Boilermakers, but they couldn’t get closer than eight points after the second quarter.
What Else? Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon ran 25 times for 205 yards and a score, and caught three passes for 44 yards and a touchdown
- Purdue QB Austin Appleby completed 17-of-37 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown
- Wisconsin LB Vince Biegel made seven tackles with three sacks and four tackles for loss
- Rushing yards: Wisconsin 264 – Purdue 26
Game Rating: C

Nov. 1 Wisconsin 37, at Rutgers 0
And You Care Because … The Badgers never let it get interesting in sloppy conditions as Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement each ran for two touchdowns, and Rafael Gaglianone hit field goals from 32, 27 and 46 yard out. Gordon started the scoring with a 13-yard touchdown run, and Clement came up big next with a 43-yard dash. Gordon started out the third quarter with a 51-yard touchdown run, and Clement closed things out with a 36-yard run.
What Else? Total yards: Wisconsin 385 – Rutgers 139
- Wisconsin RB Corey Clement ran 14 times for 131 yards and two scores, and Melvin Gordon ran 19 times for 128 yards and two touchdowns
- Rutgers QBs combined to completed 7-of-27 passes for 63 yards and a pick
- Wisconsin QB Joel Stave completed 7-of-16 passes for 81 yards
Game Rating: D

Oct. 25 at Wisconsin 52, Maryland 7
And You Care Because … Wisconsin dominated from the start with Melvin Gordon running for three first half touchdown runs and Joel Stave throwing two third quarter scoring passes to Alex Erickson from 47 yards out and eight yards to Sam Arneson. With the backups in, the Badgers got a 60-yard touchdown run from Tanner McEvoy and a three-yard scoring dash from Corey Clement to get up 52-0. Maryland finally got on the board in the final minute with a 21-yard Stefon Diggs touchdown catch.
What Else? Total yards: Wisconsin 527 – Maryland 175
- Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon ran 22 times for 122 yards and three scores, and caught two passes for 12 yards
- Maryland QB C.J. Brown completed 13-of-29 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown, and ran 13 times for 14 yards
- Wisconsin QB Joel Stave completed 9-of-15 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns
Game Rating: D+

Oct. 11 at Wisconsin 38, Illinois 28
And You Care Because … Down 14-7, Wisconsin turned to the ground game leading to 31 straight points with Melvin Gordon running for scores from six, 30, and one yard away after starting out the fun with a 15-yard touchdown run. Illinois took the lead on two Reilly O’Toole touchdown passes, but the defense couldn’t handle the Badger backs, including Corey Clement who put the game well out of reach with a 72-yard dash. Aaron Bailey and Donovonn Young each ran for late touchdowns, but never got closer than ten.
What Else? Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon ran 27 times for 175 yards and four touchdowns. Corey Clemens added 13 carries for 164 yards and a touchdown – the Badgers ran for 401 yards averaging 8.5 yards per try
- Illinois QB Reilly O’Toole completed 12-of-19 passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns
- Wisconsin QBs Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy combined to complete 10-of-18 passes for 97 yards
- Wisconsin LB Leon Jacobs led the way with 12 tackles and 1.5 sacks with two tackles for loss
Game Rating: C

Oct. 4 at Northwestern 20, Wisconsin 14
And You Care Because … Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon ran wild, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a miserable day from the Badger passing game. Northwestern’s Godwin Igwebuike picked off three passes including one in the end zone on a horrible throw from Joel Stave, and one to seal the win on UW’s final drive. Trevor Siemian found Dan Vitale for a five-yard score, Jack Mitchell hit two 22-yard field goals, and Miles Shuler ran for a 16-yard touchdown, but Wisconsin stayed alive late on a 19-yard Kenzel Doe touchdown catch. Mistakes killed the Badgers in key moments as the Wildcats hung on.
What Else? Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon ran 27 times for 259 yards and a score
- Northwestern RB Justin Jackson ran 33 times for 162 yards
- Wisconsin QB Tanner McEvoy completed 4-of-10 passes for 24 yards with an interception, and ran once for eight yards, and Joel Stave completed 8-of-19 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown with three interceptions
- Northwestern S Godwin Igwebuike made eight tackles with three interceptions
Game Rating: B

Sept. 27 at Wisconsin 27, South Florida 10
And You Care Because … It took a little while to get rolling, but Wisconsin broke through a 3-3 halftime score with Melvin Gordon touchdown runs from seven and 43 yards out for the lead and all the points needed. However, South Florida made it interesting with a 26-yard Rodney Adams touchdown dash and a big pass play deep into Badger territory to Kennard Swanson, but he took a big shot, fumbled, and the Wisconsin offense took over. An 18-play, 93-yard drive killed 9:33 off the clock, finishing up with a Tanner McEvoy touchdown pass to Sam Arneson to finish off the Bulls.
What Else? Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon ran 32 times for 181 yards and two scores
- South Florida QB Mike White completed 8-of-19 passes for 173 yards with a pick
- Time of possession: Wisconsin 40:51 – USF 19:09
- Penalties: USF 11 for 90 yards – Wisconsin 4 for 35 yards
Game Rating: B-

Sept. 20 Wisconsin 68, Bowling Green 17
And You Care Because …Wisconsin rushed for a Big Ten-record 644 yards, including a career-high 253 yards and five touchdowns from Melvin Gordon, to coast past Bowling Green. The Falcons narrowed the gap to 14-10 at the end of the opening quarter, but the Badgers took control with 51 unanswered points before Bowling Green got back on the board in the fourth quarter. The Badgers wound up outgaining the Falcons, 756-271, in the blowout.
What Else? Gordon was one of three Badgers to rush for at least 100 yards. QB Tanner McEvoy and backup RB Corey Clement also crossed the century mark. Even third-stringer Dare Ogunbowale wound up going for 94 yards on 14 carries.
- The Falcon defenders were gassed throughout, explaining the spate of missed tackles and long Badger runs. Bowling Green had the ball for just 23:24, while punting 11 times.
- This is not the kind of game that’ll be good for the confidence of Falcon QB James Knapke, successor to injured Matt Johnson. Knapke was sacked three times, completing 13-of-28 for 163 yards, no touchdowns and an interception.
- Senior LB Derek Landisch was the defensive star for the Badgers. Playing a little more than a half, he tallied six tackles, 3.5 stops for loss, two sacks and a pass breakup.
Game Rating: C

Sept. 6 at Wisconsin 37, Western Illinois 3
And You Care Because … It wasn’t an even performance by the Badgers, but they never trailed after coming up with a safety on the opening kickoff. Tanner McEvoy ran for a touchdown and threw for three scores with running backs Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement each catching scoring passes, and Alex Erickson caught a ten-yard scoring pass as part of a run of 28 unanswered points.
What Else? The Badger passing game after the LSU debacle? Tanner McEvoy completed 23-of-28 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns with a pick, and Alex Erickson caught ten passes for 122 yards and a score.
- If it’s possible to come up with an effective passing day and not look great doing it, that was Wisconsin’s day.
- The running game couldn’t seem to grind away and break off anything big. The Badgers averaged just 4.3 yards per carry with Melvin Gordon bottled up for 38 yards on 17 carries.
- The defense did its job with a key pick on a first half drive while allowing just 162 yards of total WIU offense.
Game Rating: D+

Aug. 30 LSU 28, Wisconsin 24 in Houston
And You Care Because … Down 24-7, LSU scored 15 unanswered points in the second half as the defense shut down the Badger offense cold and Anthony Jennings heated up. Kenny Hilliard pounded out a 28-yard touchdown run, and Jennings found John Diarse for a 36-yard touchdown pass in the fourth and connected with Travin Dural for an 80-yard score in the first half. Wisconsin got touchdown runs from Reggie Love, Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement, but the ground attack was bottled up late.
What Else? LSU converted on a fake punt and turned it into a field goal that helped sparked the run to a win, but injuries in the UW defensive interior helped – LSU took advantage and everything started to click. Wisconsin had its chances but didn’t take advantage.
- No passing game became a killer for the Badgers. Tanner McEvoy completed just 8-of-24 passes for 50 yards and two picks – the receivers couldn’t get open, and Gordon, who ran 16 times for 140 yards and a score, was silent in the fourth quarter. The coaching staff forgot about him.
- Leonard Fournette carried the ball eight times for 18 yards, but it was Kenny Hilliard who took control of the LSU offense with 110 yards and a score on 18 carries.
- The Badgers got 15 tackles and a fumble recovery from safety Michael Caputo, and 12 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss from Marcus Trotter, but the line broke down in the second half.
Game Rating: B+

2014 Preview 

Is Wisconsin on the verge of doing something really, really big, or is it stuck in a bit of a rut? It might be a good rut, but can it finally become the type of program that can compete at the highest level and for really, really big things?

You can only get so far by recruiting to a type. It’s fine to bring in the guys who fit your system to get to a certain level, but to break through and to win Rose Bowls, and beat a South Carolina, and deal with an Ohio State, and have a chance against an LSU, you need talent. If you don’t have the top-shelf guys on both sides of the ball, there’s a hard ceiling, and Bucky is having a problem breaking through.

Wisconsin has been college football’s lead bum slayer over the years - blasting away on teams like UMass, Tennessee Tech, Purdue, and other mediocre squads. Last season it played three teams that finished with ten wins or more, and lost all three games.

Winning two straight Big Ten championship games was obviously fantastic, but both were followed up by Rose Bowl losses. Fine, so the Badgers were totally hosed in the loss to Arizona State and had a shot against Ohio State, but the best win was BYU? Iowa? The loss to South Carolina was the first double-digit defeat since a 34-24 loss to Michigan State in 2010 – and that was close until the very end – but it’s hard to sell the program as one of the elite when so much of the success has come from fattening up on the dregs.

It’s also hard to get respect among the big boys when you lose six of your last seven bowl games.

And that’s what should make this season interesting. Gary Andersen had a decent first season, but the bizarre loss to Penn State to end the regular season and the loss to South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl closed things out with a thud. With so much turnover on defense, no Jared Abbrederis at receiver, a confusing quarterback situation, and four of the top five tacklers gone, including heart-and-soul linebacker Chris Borland, there are lots and lots of question marks …

But it might not matter.

The new world of college football should be tailor-made for the Wisconsin program, needing to get it close to the pin and not necessarily be perfect. Beat LSU in the opener, and it’s Game On with a favorable schedule with no Ohio State, Nebraska at home, and the toughest road game either at Iowa or Northwestern. Lose to LSU, rip through the Big Ten slate, get into the championship game, and then, with one puncher’s chance win over an Ohio State or Michigan State, a 12-1 Badger team is in the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Which would then beg the question – yeah, great, but is this team even any good?

That’s what the LSU game is for as a tone-setter, but yeah, Wisconsin is good. The bigger question now is whether or not Andersen can make the program truly great.

What to watch for on offense: Will the quarterback situation be settled at any point this season? You know exactly what the Badgers are going to do – they’re going to give it to Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement and run, run, run some more behind a fantastic line – but the offense was truly humming in the Bret Bielema era when Russell Wilson or Scott Tolzien was running it at a highly-efficient level. It’s not like UW is going to air it out and become Texas Tech, but the quarterback has to hit his third down throws and he has to hit the open man to take advantage of defenses cheating up to stop the ground attack. Joel Stave is trying to get past an injured shoulder, and Tanner McEvoy is right there and ready to push for the job. There isn’t a truly wrong answer – both can play – but with a mediocre receiving corps, the quarterback has to make everyone better.

What to watch for on defense: The seven needs close to seven new players. Derek Landisch is back at linebacker, and tackle Warren Herring is a good one who’ll emerge into a bigger force, but the defense that finished fifth in the nation against the run is undergoing a major overhaul. There isn’t a Chris Borland in the linebacking corps, and there isn’t a devastating pass rusher to worry about on the outside, but Andersen and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda know how to get production. There’s talent and upside returning, but considering the opening game is against an LSU offensive front that should be among the best in America, and a running game that should be bruising and nasty, the Badgers had better be ready.

The team will be far better if… the secondary works. The tremendous Badger pass defense stats were among the most misleading of the 2013 season. The secondary was young and beatable, and the pass rush in the 3-4 wasn’t generating much of a pass rush. Fortunately, UMass, Tennessee Tech, Purdue, and several other teams on the schedule couldn’t throw a forward pass. To be fair, Wisconsin shut down a high-powered Indiana passing game dead cold, but Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly did whatever he wanted on the way to a 352-yard day, Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg hit 70% of his throws for 339 yards and four scores, and South Carolina’s Connor Shaw completed 88.5% of his passes for 321 yards and four touchdowns – the Badgers lost all three games. The fourth loss to Ohio State was all but sealed when Braxton Miller connected on a big scoring pass at the end of the first half and finished with four touchdown passes on the day. In all, 12 of the 16 touchdown passes allowed came in three of the losses.

The Schedule: The Badgers open up with a knockdown, drag out slugfest with a physical LSU team in Houston. However, if they can find a way to win that, good luck – the schedule is among the easiest in the Big Ten, starting with non-conference games at home against Western Illinois, Bowling Green and South Florida. None of those three will be true cupcakes, but Wisconsin doesn't lose games like those at home.

There's no Michigan, Michigan State or Ohio State to face from the East – Bucky gets the newcomers, Maryland and Rutgers. The Big Ten road games? Northwestern, Rutgers, Purdue and Iowa – that's not bad. The showdown against Nebraska is in Camp Randall, and Minnesota, Illinois and Maryland are manageable home dates. However, there's a run of three road games in four weeks to start out November.

Best offensive player: Junior RB Melvin Gordon. It was a curious move not to turn pro last year considering running back draft stock doesn’t necessarily improve with more time, but Gordon wanted to come back and be the main man for the offense, and if he can stay in one piece, he has the potential to hit the 2,000-yard mark depending on the rotation. Blazing fast, he’s a deadly home-run hitter in the open field and a threat to do something big every time he gets the bal. While he’s not going to be a 300-carry workhorse, if he can average close to eight yards per carry again, he doesn’t have to be.

Best defensive player: Sophomore CB Sojourn Shelton. The Florida native has the speed, athleticism and talent to be the star of a revamped secondary. Tested time and again, he managed to come through, turning into the team’s No. 1 corner while also showing off nice open field tackling skills. He’s not huge, but he didn’t miss too many stops and he was ultra-aggressive when the ball was in the air, leading the team in interceptions and broken up passes. With so much turnover on defense, he has to stand out and make teams pay for coming his way.

Key players to a successful season: Senior WR Kenzel Doe. Someone, anyone, has to become a go-to, No. 1 target. You wouldn’t be insane to suggest that Jared Abbrederis was among the most valuable players in college football last year – the Badgers had no passing game whatsoever when he wasn’t producing. The fop four pass catchers from last year are gone, and one of those was tight end Jacob Pedersen and another was running back James White. Doe has always had the skill and the tools, but he only caught seven passes for 57 yards, Jordan Fredrick caught ten passes for 106 yards, and Alex Erickson made nine catches for 127 yards. Doe has the most experience, and he needs to bring the production.

The season will be a success if ... Wisconsin wins the Big Ten championship. The Badgers will never, ever get a break of a slate like this one. There’s absolutely no excuse with a dream draw from the East and with Nebraska having to come to Camp Randall. Getting into the College Football Playoff isn’t an unreachable goal, but it can only happen with a third Big Ten championship in four years. After the success of recent years, just getting to Indianapolis isn’t enough, even if this might be the third or fourth best team in the East.

Key game: Nov. 15 vs. Nebraska. The opener against LSU is the massive moment for the Badgers on a national scale – win that, and the respect will come, but that might not mean much without the big Big Ten wins. Iowa isn’t going to be bad, Northwestern will be better, and Minnesota could be sneaky-dangerous, but Nebraska is the one big challenger. The Badgers will be coming off of two road games before hosting the West game of the year, and they probably can’t get to Indianapolis without the win.

2013 Fun Stats:
- 1st Quarter Scoring: Wisconsin 103 – Opponents 40
- Total Plays: 912 – Lost Fumbles: 4
- Average Yards Per Carry: Wisconsin 6.6 – Opponents 3.2
 
- 2014 Wisconsin Preview - What You Need To Know & Top Players


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