Wisconsin Football: Winners and Losers from the Week 4 Game vs. UTEP
The Wisconsin Badgers entered the game against UTEP struggling, with the offense the main culprit. The explosiveness wasn't there, and the offense had trouble scoring points.
Thankfully, that all changed against the Miners as Wisconsin beat UTEP, 37-26.
Here's a look at the winners and losers from the Badgers' much-needed win against UTEP.
Winner: Joel Stave
Joel Stave made the first start of his career against the Miners, and he played very well. The former walk-on completed 12 of 17 passes for 210 yards and a touchdown.
More importantly, the offense improved by leaps and bounds with Stave challenging the Miners through the air. His ability to challenge the defense vertically opened up the rushing attack, allowing the Badgers offense to steam roll UTEP.
Stave did throw an interception, but overall he played really well. Stave came out of his first start as a winner.
Loser: Montee Ball
Montee Ball had a rough day against the Miners.
First, he lost the first fumble of his career, and then he suffered an apparent concussion. The concussion ended his day early and is a scary prospect moving forward for Ball. The Wisconsin star suffered one after being assaulted over the summer. Hopefully, they do not become a reoccurring injury.
Montee Ball lost against UTEP.
Winners: Melvin Gordan and James White
After Montee Ball went down, James White and Melvin Gordon stole the show.
Both gashed the Miners defense for long runs, and each found the end zone. The backups had the offense looking like the 2011 version, with Gordon in particular impressing. The redshirt freshman and future star had 112 yards on eight carries for an incredible average of 14 yards per run.
If Ball's concussion is a reoccurring issue, the Badgers' backfield will be fine. Melvin Gordon and James White were big winners against the Miners.
Loser: The Defense
The Badgers defense had been very impressive to start the season, but the unit struggled against the Miners. The secondary was shaky, and the defense was unable to make a stop on fourth down.
Additionally, the Badgers continue to be susceptible to the big play, giving up multiple long touchdowns to Michael Edwards. The second Edwards touchdown shouldn't have happened, as Michael Trotter went for the interception instead of making a tackle.
The Wisconsin defense needs to tighten up heading into conference play, and the mental mistakes and big plays need to stop.
Winner: Chris Borland
Chris Borland had an incredible game against the Miners.
The Badgers star was a force in every aspect on defense, finishing with 12 tackles, two sacks, 3.5 tackles for a loss and two passes broken up. A linebacker by trade, Borland spent time at defensive end and was a force off the edge. The Badger linebacker continuously pressured the UTEP quarterback, and routinely blew up plays in the Miners' backfield.
With the Badgers defense struggling to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks, look for Borland to continue to see reps at defensive end.
Chris Borland was a winner on Saturday.
The Badgers beat UTEP on Saturday, and they finally looked like the team that was expected entering the season. Stave impressed under center, and the offense clicked on all cylinders. Additionally, the return of Jared Abbrederis will continue to work wonders for the passing attack.
While Montee Ball's injury and the defense's struggles are concerning, the Badgers finally looked like a Big Ten contender. The team desperately needed this confidence boost.