MADISON - Wisconsin’s defense appears ready to start the Big Ten season next week. The offense, however, is a much different story.
Entering the game with the second biggest point spread in college football this weekend, No.19 Wisconsin needed its defense to bail out a porous offensive performance and scratch out a 27-10 victory over South Florida in front of 78,111 at Camp Randall Stadium Saturday.
Wisconsin (3-1) held the Bulls to under 250 yards of total offense, 2-for-9 on third down and forced two turnovers to spoil some promising scoring drives. In the last three games, Wisconsin’s defense has allowed only 10 points per game.
Junior tailback Melvin Gordon rushed for 181 yards and a pair of third-quarter touchdowns, but there wasn’t much to get excited about with the Badgers’ conference opener at Northwestern less than a week away.
Wisconsin dug itself a deep hole in the first half by registering only 139 yards of total offense, including just 60 yards on the ground a week after setting school and Big Ten records for total offense and rushing yards. The Badgers went 1-for-7 on third down and failed twice to score touchdowns despite being inside the USF 10 in the opening quarters.
USF (2-3) hung around until late in the game but lost its momentum after Bulls fullback Kennard Swanson was stripped by safety Lubern Figaro at the end of a 50-yard gain. Instead of having a first-and-goal at the 10 with a chance to cut the lead to 20-10, the Bulls’ defense suffered, as Wisconsin capped an 18-play, 90-yard drive that took 9:33 off the clock with a 2-yard touchdown.
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8 plays, 41 yards, 4:03 TOP, 6:49 left
FG Marvin Kloss 26
Key Play: Marcus Trotter broke through the line on third-and-3, but that left nobody covering fullback Kennard Swanson, who went 22 yards down to the UW 9.
13 plays, 69 yards, 5:57 TOP, :52 left
FG Marvin Kloss 26
Key Play: Wisconsin was forced to settle for a 39-yard field goal after a third-down jet sweep went nowhere, but a personal foul penalty on USF (jumping on a player's back to attempt a block) took the points off the board and gave UW a first down at 10.
8 plays, 75 yards, 4:17 TOP, 10:43 left
Melvin Gordon 7-yard run (Gaglianone kick)
Key Play: UW was about to have another drive stall but a defensive holding penalty on third-and-11 gave the Badgers a first down at the 34.
1 play, 43 yards, :10 TOP, 8:03 left
Melvin Gordon 43-yard run (Gaglianone kick)
Key Play: The touchdown run was vintage Gordon, as the junior showed good vision to find the gap and lateral movement to break and avoid three would-be tacklers on his run.
4 plays, 75 yards, 1:59 TOP, 6:05 left
Rodney Adams 26-yard run (Kloss kick)
Key Play: Adams' end around could have been stopped for minimal to no gain, but cornerback Darius Hillary over pursued and missed an open-field tackle.
9 plays, 74 yards, 5:01 TOP, 1:09 left
FG Gaglianone 19
Key Play: Trying to do his part to get the running game going, Clement delivered his best run of the day, breaking three tackles on a 30-yard run to get UW to the USF 10.
18 plays, 90 yards, 9:33 TOP, 5:17 left
Sam Arneson 2-yard pass from McEvoy (Gaglianone kick)
Key Play: After airmailing Sam Arneson for what would have been a 30-plus-yard gain, McEvoy hit tight end Troy Fumagalli in a tight window for a 14-yard gain and a first down at the USF 25.
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