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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


UW defense dominates in 37-0 shutout of Rutgers

Shawn Smith/The Daily Targum

The Wisconsin football team needed a boost in order to pick up its first Big Ten road win of the season Saturday.

Against conference newcomer Rutgers, the Wisconsin offense managed only six total yards on their first three drives of the game and needed a spark.

That spark came midway through the first quarter when UW’s A.J. Jordan blocked a Rutgers punt that set up a Melvin Gordon 13-yard touchdown run, and the Badgers would dominate the rest of the way en route to a 37-0 drudging of the Scarlet Knights.


“The special teams play by A.J. Jordan on the blocked punt was a tremendous play and schemed up by the coaches and executed very well,” Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen said. “That kind of flipped the game and gave us an opportunity to get the first points up there and keep moving forward.”

And keep moving forward is what the Badgers did.

Two possessions after the Gordon touchdown, fellow running back Corey Clement, who returned to his home state of New Jersey Saturday, bounced off a 43-yard touchdown run that put UW on top of the Scarlet Knights, 14-0.

Kicker Rafael Gaglianone added two field goals in the second quarter, from 32 and 27 yards away, to give the Badgers a 20-0 lead over Rutgers at the half.

The Wisconsin rushing attack continued to exploit the Scarlet Knights’ defense right away in the second half when Gordon took his first carry of the half 51 yards for his second touchdown of the day. Clement added the final touchdown for the Badgers early in the fourth quarter when he scored on a 36-yard run that put UW up 37-0.

Clement led the Badgers in rushing Saturday with 131 yards on 14 carries, while Gordon added 128 yards on 19 attempts.

Meanwhile, the quarterback duo of Joel Stave (7-16) and Tanner McEvoy (1-4) struggled in their third game of split reps, combining for only 87 yards passing and one interception, which was thrown by McEvoy.

However, while the offense did their fair share in putting up 37 points, it was the defensive effort from the Badgers that was instrumental in giving UW its third-straight conference win and first road win of the season.

In the first half, the Wisconsin defense carried over their dominant performance against Maryland to hold Rutgers to only 52 total yards and just three first downs.

Overall, UW’s defense held the Scarlet Knights to only 139 total yards, with 76 of those coming on the ground and 63 through the air. Rutgers managed only eight total first downs and punted on 11 of their 15 drives.

It was a rewarding performance for the Badgers’ defense who was one last possession touchdown away from posting a shutout last weekend against Maryland. Saturday’s game was also Wisconsin’s first road shutout since 1998.

“It’s very rewarding as a defense to get a shutout,” Andersen said. “Last week [against Maryland], they didn’t get that, but they did this week. It’s always fun to play when you are at that high of level, which doesn’t happen very often.”

“We had a great game plan going into this weekend,” UW linebacker Vince Biegel, who had five total tackles including a sack and tackle for loss, said. “We felt solid. We competed at a high level. The separation and execution really paid off for us today in the victory.”

Rutgers’ starting quarterback Gary Nova, who was a game-time decision, played the majority of the game for the Scarlet Knights at quarterback but struggled mightily, going only 5-for-15 with 46 passing yards and an interception.

Rutger’s wide receiver Leonte Carroo entered Saturday’s game as the Big Ten’s second-leading receiver in yards per game, but was held to only two catches for 33 yards. It was the second-straight week that UW has held a premier receiver in check, as it limited Maryland’s star wide receiver Stefon Diggs to only one catch last week.

Wisconsin’s defense has given up only seven points combined to two teams in Maryland and Rutgers who they’ve never faced before.

“It’s just been a whole team effort,” Wisconsin outside linebacker Joe Schobert said of the defense’s success. “I think definitely with getting guys like Warren [Herring] and Marcus [Trotter] back two weeks ago for Maryland was a big key to setting the tone. Everybody’s doing their jobs, responsibilities and executing them at a high level.”

The win for the Badgers moved their overall record to 6-2 with a 3-1 mark in the Big Ten while pushing them back into the top 25 in both the coaches and AP polls. UW currently sits at a tie for second place with Iowa and Minnesota in the Big Ten West, while Nebraska leads the division with a 3-1 record.

Wisconsin will head to West Lafayette next weekend to battle Purdue before gearing up for a grueling three-game stretch to close out the season against Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota, respectively.

While there is certainly room for improvement for UW, especially with the passing game, the players and coaches will gladly take a dominating road win in the Big Ten.

“I thought the team’s performance was good,” inside linebacker Derek Landisch said. “Winning on the road is tough to do, so I am proud of how we came out defensively. I think we are starting to gain momentum. We always have room for improvement, but I am pretty happy with how we played.” contributed to this article.

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