Wisconsin-Marshall: Badgers Corral the Herd

Adam LindemerSenior Analyst ISeptember 6, 2008

The Wisconsin Badgers cruised to a 51-14 victory over the Marshall Thundering Herd behind senior quarterback Allan Evridge, who passed for 308 yards and a touchdown in the blowout win.

But the blowout didn't begin until after the Badgers were down 14-0 early in the second quarter. Wisconsin couldn't move the ball on offense in the first quarter and committed six penalties in that frame.

Then, all of a sudden, the Badgers realized that a football game was taking place and started to come alive, even without two of their leaders.

Senior linebacker Jonathan Casillas and senior tight end Travis Beckum were nursing injuries and resting up for Fresno State.

Over the final two and half quarters, Wisconsin reeled off 51 unanswered points and did not commit a single penalty for the rest for the game. The Badgers became a passing team, which is unusual for a Bret Bielema-coached team.

Evridge completed 17-of-26 passes, and connected with junior backup tight end Garret Graham for his only passing TD of the day.

Junior P.J. Hill again led the running back core with only 57 yards, but scored twice. Sophomore John Clay matched Hill in end zone appearances, and the Badgers finished with six TD's on the ground.

So even though Wisconsin used the passing game extensively, it was the ground game that yet again gets across the goal line.

The biggest factor in the game however, was the Badgers' defense, as they won the turnover battle 3-1, with three interceptions. Sophomore Niles Brinkley had two for Wisconsin.

In week one against Akron, the Badgers simply outran the Zips, but against Marshall, Wisconsin did their damage through the air.

Now what Bielema and Co. needs to figure out is how to bring them together and be successful at both in the same week. And he needs to do it quickly, as Wisconsin will get their first, true out-of-conference test, as they travel to Fresno State next week.

Wisconsin needs to put up at least half of this week's total against the Bulldogs to have a shot. Scoring 28 points in the Valley will be the ultimate test.

The road doesn't get any easier after that either, when the Badgers open up Big Ten play by hosting "The" Ohio State University and then go to the Big House to face an up and down Michigan squad.

The Wisconsin Badgers are now 2-0 and may creep into the Top 10 come Monday (thank you East Carolina), but that can only mean they are now on "upset alert" as they head out west.