“No Corey Clement, no problem” likely won’t apply once Wisconsin goes up against Big Ten opponents. But it was a mighty apt description of what happened in Saturday night’s shutout win over Hawaii.
Badger running backs Taiwan Deal and Dare Ogunbowale, the two who will be tasked with replacing Clement while he recovers from sports hernia surgery, rushed for a combined 232 yards and scored a trio of touchdowns as the Badgers blanked the visiting Warriors, 28-0, at Camp Randall Stadium.
Deal rushed for 147 yards on 26 carries, showing that at least against the Hawaii defense he’s capable of being a feature back. Deal scored twice in the first half, the only scoring of the first 30 minutes of play.
Ogunbowale carried the ball 15 times for 85 yards, scoring the Badgers’ final touchdown of the evening in the fourth quarter.
It was important for these two to have a big night. Not only was it the first game since the announcement that Clement would miss the next four to six weeks while recovering from surgery — Clement sat out the last two games, as well — but it was a brilliant re-emergence of the Wisconsin rushing attack, an attack that ranked last in the Big Ten heading into this weekend.
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Saturday, the Badgers accumulated 326 rushing yards, just 101 yards fewer than the team’s total in the first three games combined.
It was a good thing, too, because after three strong showings, it was a less-than-stellar night for quarterback Joel Stave, who threw for 146 yards and a touchdown.
But the defense made it so Stave didn’t need to have a big night, limiting Hawaii to a stunningly low 255 total offensive yards in a shutout effort. And nearly all those yards came through the air, with Hawaii rushing for just 15 yards.
There’s still much to learn about Wisconsin, which after a thumping in the season-opening loss to Alabama, the Badgers have blown out three straight weak opponents — Miami (Ohio), Troy and Hawaii — by a combined score of 114-3. Next weekend’s Big Ten opener against undefeated Iowa should tell us a lot more about Wisconsin.