The fight song says, “On Wisconsin.” The scoreboard said “All Wisconsin” – in so many numbers, anyway.
Wisconsin bounced back from a disappointing Week One loss to Alabama by overwhelming the Miami RedHawks, 58-0, Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium. Aided by Miami turnovers and miscues, the Badgers jumped out to an early lead and poured it on with 24 points in the second quarter.
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The margin for error against a team ranked No. 24 in the weekly coaches poll, however, was virtually nil. Miami could ill-afford turnovers and yet it committed four.
Wisconsin quickly took advantage. Already up 3-0, the Badgers jumped on a muffed RedHawk punt reception at the 14 and added another field goal three plays later.
After failing to score following an interception, Wisconsin came storming back into the MU red zone again with a 35-yard Alex Erickson punt return to the 16. Quarterback Joel Stave soon hit Robert Wheelwright on a 13-yard score at the left pylon for UW’s first touchdown.
“They killed us on special teams,” Miami head coach Chuck Martin said. “We hd a couple of low, line drive punts that we didn’t get good coverage (on) … and set up a couple easy ones. And then, obviously, fumbling a punt return inside our 15 … you go on the road against a Big Ten team, you’re not going to win that way.”
Another Stave touchdown pass – this one to Austin Traylor – put the hosts up 20-0 before MU embarked on its best drive of the day. Miami reached Wisconsin’s 20-yard line before the Badgers held firm. Kaleb Patterson’s field goal try was wide left.
Two Miami plays – one good and one bad – put Wisconsin in position for its next TD. First Marshall Taylor intercepted a deep pass by Stave at Miami’s 37. Two plays later, however, true freshman quarterback Billy Ball threw an interception to Tanner McEvoy. He returned it 41 yards to the RedHawks four. In a sense, MU had helped Wisconsin pick up 76 of the 80 yards for a Badger touchdown (Taiwan Deal, 1 yard run) that left the hosts up 27-0.
“The disappointing thing for us was the turnovers,” Martin said. We needed to keep moving the ball, even if we punted, and slow down their offense.”
With Miami unable to sustain a drive, Christian Kock kicked a knuckler punt that bounced all the way to the Wisconsin seven. Stave, however, completed six of seven passes as UW marched down the field for one more score before halftime. Wheelright caught the 18-yard TD pass and a Gaglianone PAT left Wisconsin in a 34-0 advantage.
When Miami could not get a first down, it punted. With the held of an MU penalty, UW took over near midfield and moved in for a final field goal with one second left before intermission. That left the hosts up 34-0.
“We made mistakes early, and that got it out of hand before halftime,” Martin said. “I think if we don’t turn the ball over, it’s going to stay closer – at least through halftime.”
Wisconsin added 13 points in the third period and another seven in the final quarter while keeping Miami off the board entirely.
“It was a long day,” said Martin, who was particularly impressed with the Badgers defense.
“They’re really good defensively. We knew that going in. Last year’s defense was good; I think this year’s defense is better.”
He continued, “They handled us up front defensively, and forced us into stressful situations at quarterback. We did not do a good job of managing the ball at the quarterback position, but a lot of it had to do with … Wisconsin.”
Senior QB drew Kummer was 6 of 14 for 62 yards and one interception against the Badgers. True freshman Billy Bahl, seing his first extensive action, completed 7 of 20 for 98 yards with two picks. Miami quarterbacks, working behind an offensive line missing three starters, were sacked three times but under pressure on numerous other occasions.
Sam Martin had four catches for 46 yards, while Rokeem Williams registered three receptions for 54 yards.
Leonard Ross led MU with a net of 16 yards rushing, but the RedHawks finished with Minus-three yards rushing overall.
Wisconsin totaled 188 yards rushing. Dare Ogunbawale paced the ground game with 16 rushes for 112 yards and one score. Deal added 45 yards on 14 carries with two TDs.
Stave finished with 19 competions in 30 attempts, with 236 yards, three TDs and an interception. Wheelright’s six catches (2 TDs) for 79 yards led the hosts. Alex Erickson logged five catches for 73 yards, and eight UW receives caught at least one pass.