1. Frightening Special Teams – Rutgers put itself in terrible position to start a road game. A botched punt by Joey Roth, botched kick by Chris Gough and zero blocking on Justin Goodwin’s kick return set Wisconsin up for a 10-point start out of the gate. Special teams was, yet again, an overall disaster for Rutgers. Wisconsin took a three-score lead into halftime with average starting field position at the 50-yard line.
2. Bulk in the Box – Wisconsin made a key adjustment after the first quarter. Defensively, the Badgers adjusted to the powerful Rutgers rushing attack with an extra body in the box to better protect the edge. Rutgers ran for 5.8 yards per carry on its first two drives and 1.6 the rest of the way.
3. Clayton Ravine – In the latest true-freshman debut of coach Kyle Flood’s tenure, safety Najee Clayton took a spot on the Rutgers kickoff team for game eight of the regular season. Clayton joins Rutgers receiver great Kenny Britt, who also debuted in game eight of his freshman season.
4. Heat-Seeking Missile – Steve Longa is fun to watch, and he deserves credit for a no-surrender approach. Longa is aggressive in a blowout loss as he is in a scoreless game. Longa looks significantly more comfortable down the stretch. He built on his Big-Ten best 12.1 tackles per game with six more against the Badgers that all came in key situations.
5. Buried Alive – Chris Laviano’s statistics are ugly, and his efficiency ratings continue to plummet against a higher level of competition. Some of that is Laviano’s fault with bad decisions and uncatchable throws, but he can only do so much when nobody gets open for him. After Wisconsin made the running game a non-factor, any Rutgers quarterback would have been in trouble.
6. The Next Leg – Scarlet Report frequenters know the name well, at backup punter Mike Cintron got it done when he replaced Roth. Cintron is the leading contender to punt next season, and he boomed a 57-yarder in his debut.
7. McEvoy-vey – Former Rutgers recruiting target Tanner McEvoy was the ultimate opportunist for Wisconsin. He killed two promising drives with solid safety play. McEvoy alertly picked off Laviano off of a helmet deflection, and then came through unblocked on a third-down safety blitz that forced a punt out of halftime.
8. Steady Improvement – One hybrid defensive end is not going to be a game changer, but converted middle linebacker Quanzell Lambert continues a strong season. Against a physically impressive offensive line, Lambert used his speed successfully in both pass rush and against the run.
9. Wasted Candy – Return man Janarion Grant gave Rutgers life with a 42-yard kick return shortly before halftime. After Rutgers seemingly play-called for a field goal, the offense came out of a timeout on 4th and 5 with no protection for Laviano, a pass short of the first down and turnover.
10. Stick with What Works – Rutgers likely cost itself four points and some momentum during the second drive of the game. The offensive line had a clear upper-hand in the smash-mouth department during a nine-run, 52-yard stretch. Rutgers went for its first pass on the 3-yard line, and the incompletion forced a three-point settlement.