Notes: Plenty of Problems to Contend With

In addition to Wisconsin suffering through a stumbling offense and a poor-tackling defense, the Badgers now have to worry about the status of their two stud running backs.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Once again, the University of Wisconsin offense moved the ball decently enough, but couldn't get in the end zone.

Once again, the running game was the more consistent attack of the two options.

And once again, junior tailback P.J. Hill was not the reason.

It's beginning to sound like a broken record: freshman John Clay steals carries from Hill, runs for a much higher average (5.6 yards a carry, to Hill's 4.2), but the offense as a whole can't match Clay's intensity.

Week by week, Clay has gotten more involved in the offensive scheme, and without a doubt, Clay was the unquestioned leader on Saturday, with quarterback Dustin Sherer getting his first career start and tailback P.J. Hill injuring his leg during the second quarter.

The talented running back from Racine, Wis. rushed 16 times for a career-high 89 yards. But Clay left the game in the fourth quarter with an undisclosed injury, so time will tell what the situation holds at running back for the upcoming week.

"Clay was going all the way through the fourth quarter, but he aggravated his toe three weeks ago, and if he just hits it the right way, it kind of (flares up)," UW head coach Bret Bielema said. "He did that, and that's why we opted to go with (sophomore) Zach (Brown) down the stretch."

Brown finished up in mop-up duty, running three times for 30 yards. That included the Badgers' lone touchdown, a 21-yarder with 4:24 remaining.

Wisconsin has failed to produce a 100-yard rusher in four of its last five games.

"For us to not be able to run the ball effectively, I don't care if there's seven-man, eight-man, whatever it is, we've got to be able to do that, based on what we can from a gameplan standpoint," Bielema said. "Especially when we're having trouble throwing the football."

A Silver Lining

UW kicker Philip Welch doesn't say much.

The true freshman from Fort Collins, Colo. had a tough assignment to begin his Badgers career; filling the very adequate shoes of three-year starter Taylor Mehlhaff, who has gone on to play for the New Orleans Saints.

Mehlhaff was well-spoken, always providing clear insight of all aspects of football. Welch is yet to reach this point, rarely speaking at length after games or even during the week of practice.

Welch hasn't had to flap his tongue too much, however. His success this season has spoken for itself.

After nailing field goals of 42, 40, and 35 yards on a cool, breezy day at Kinnick Stadium, Welch is now 12-for-14 this season.

"I've felt on a roll the whole season," Welch said.

Since missing his first attempt at Michigan on Sept. 27, he's perfect in his last eight kicks, including five field goals of 40 yards or longer.

"Philip's stroking the ball well on field goals," Bielema said. "We've needed him to be fairly consistent."

Game Notes Despite losing by 22 points, the Badgers outgained the Hawkeyes 409-375. Wisconsin also won the third-down conversion battle: UW was 6-of-18, while IU was just 1-of-10

UW quarterback Scott Tolzien relieved Dustin Sherer in the fourth quarter, and was 4-of-7 for 90 yards. Bielema would not commit to a starter next week against Illinois

Starting offensive linemen Gabe Carimi and Kraig Urbik did not make the trip to Iowa City. Both are nursing knee injuries.

Wisconsin has now allowed 88 second-half points during its four-game losing streak (22.0 per game)

This is the Badgers' first four-game losing streak to open the Big Ten Conference schedule since 1996

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