After loosing soundly to No. 3 Alabama to open the season last week, many were anxious to see how the Badgers were going to respond. Would they come out sluggish and limp to the finish line or would they hit on all cylinders and blow the doors off of the Miami (OH) Redhawks.
Thanks to a record-setting performance from quarterback Joel Stave, the Badgers did the latter in a 58-0 win to open the Paul Chryst era at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsinâ€™s senior quarterback was needed early and often, as the Badgers run game struggled early on, and Stave answered the bell.
After having the first two drives stall out inside the 20-yard line and Wisconsin settling for field goals, Stave put this team on his back and busted a 6-0 game in to a route with efficiency and big time plays.
He finished with 236 yards on 19 of 30 passing, with three touchdowns to one interception. It was his first half performance that was record-setting, as he put up 225 yards and had all three of his touchdowns by half.
Stave also continued to show that last season was an aberration and prove that he can be someone the Badgers can count on to win games and not just manage them.
“I thought he did some good things, and every game there is going to be something that he can learn from,” said Chryst. “I think he can put his ceiling pretty high, and thatâ€™s what weâ€™re going to — he wants to play to that and weâ€™ve got to coach to that.”
No drive better showcased his improving ability and changed game than the final drive of the first half.Â Stave found five different receivers in going 6-for-7 for 93 yards on a scoring drive late in the second quarter, which was capped by a 15-yard touchdown catch by Robert Wheelwright.
Importantly, that wasnâ€™t the only time Wheelwright showed up in this game, as the junior wide receiver is becoming a favorite target of Stave. He finished the game with a game-high six receptions for 79 yards and two touchdowns.
Tanner McEvoy played both ways for Wisconsin, seeing his first real action of the season and taking advantage of being a two-way player. He had three receptions for 29 yards as a starting wide receiver, while picking off a pass and making one stop as a starting safety on defense.
“I enjoy watching him (McEvoy),” said Chryst after the game. “I thought he was a blast in practice, he was shuffling both sides and doing everything, but heâ€™s got it, and I think he can help us, and we need him.”
As impressive as the offensive exploits of the Badgers were, Wisconsin was even better defensively. Not only did it pitch a shutout, it allowed minus-3 yards rushing, a total that is the fewest since holding Northern Illinois to minus-13 yards rushing back in 2007.
Star outside linebackers Joe Schobert and Vince Biegel had a field day with the Miami (OH) offensive line, to the tune of two sacks and 10 tackles. Schobert was second on the team with six stops on the day, playing just over half of the game and giving way to backups with the Badgers firmly in control of the game early in the third quarter.
Wisconsin will move forward and focus on a matchup with the Troy Trojans at 2:30p.m. CT next Saturday, with the game airing live on the Big Ten Network.