No. 10 Wisconsin football had a routine day during its home opener against the Akron Zips Saturday afternoon. The Badgers set the tone early with a 13-play, 83-yard opening drive that ended on a 4-yard rush for a touchdown by Corey Clement. After that, there was no turning back en route to Wisconsin’s 54-10 victory.
Despite Clement leaving the game during the third quarter with a left leg injury, Wisconsin’s running-game was highly effective as it picked up 294 yards between eight total rushers. Clement finished with 111 yards on 21 carries while fellow backs Taiwain Deal garnered 58 yards on 12 carries and Dare Ogunbawale gained 18 yards on 4 carries.
But what made this game interesting from Wisconsin’s perspective was how evenly offense came from both rushing and passing. Bart Houston was one yard shy of his career high, as he passed for 231 yards and two touchdowns against a lax Akron passing defense. While redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook threw for his first career touchdown, a 6-yard pass to Alec Ingold, and 61 yards.
The Badgers defense never faltered and seemed at least in the first half, to be winding its own offense as Akron was held to just 5 first downs. T.J. Edwards picked up a sack in his first game back and Leo Musso recorded his fourth career interception.
Offensive player of the game: Jazz Peavy
Peavy came up huge for the Wisconsin receiving core today, which seemed focused on getting the ball to just Rob Wheelwright and Troy Fumagalli during the team’s opening game vs. LSU.
A 34-yard reception for a touchdown capped off his day, one that showed what the linkup between he and Houston could become. Houston floated a perfectly weighted pass in-between two defenders as Peavy streaked past down the middle and in for the score. His other touchdown came on a quick slant good for 13 yards and the score.
Peavy’s performance was a breath of fresh air for a receiving core that has relied heavily on one receiver for the past few seasons. With diversified passing options, Wisconsin’s passing game could become a serious weapon for a traditionally run-heavy program.
Defensive player of the game
No one player stood out Saturday, and it was instead a team effort. Wisconsin limited Akron’s scoring chances in every way imaginable – by forcing a fumble, interception and a few sacks.
There were some lapses, but the way the team recovered on plays showed that this is one of the top defenses in college football. Some lax tackling led to what could’ve been Akron’s longest play, a 38-yard rush, but Derrick Tindal rushed determinedly from behind to force the fumble and it was recovered by Sojourn Shelton.
T.J. Watt also recorded his first career sack and Leo Musso hauled in an interception that led to an all-around valiant effort from the defense.