Deal's breakout game lifts No. 22 Wisconsin to another shutout win
Final: No. 22 Wisconsin 28, Hawaii 0
Telling stat: Wisconsin doesn’t allow TD for third straight game
There’s a growing trend in Madison. Points are basically impossible to come by for opposing defenses. That was the third straight week in which the Badgers didn’t allow a team to reach pay dirt. It’s tough to score when you can’t run the ball, which nobody has been able to do against Wisconsin since the Alabama game. And when Hawaii did drop back to throw, the Badger stars stepped up. Joe Schobert, Michael Caputo and Vince Biegel all got in the sack column for a unit that’s gaining more confidence with each Wisconsin drubbing.
Key play: Wisconsin’s fourth-down stand to start second half
Hawaii was 11 yards away from making it a one-score game. A 51-yard pass on Hawaii’s first play from scrimmage in the second half could’ve been the momentum lift it needed. Instead, penalties and a Schobert sack pushed the Rainbow Warriors back to the 31, which eventually led to a missed 49-yard field goal. That fired up the Badger defense and gave the unit the stand it needed to prevent Hawaii from getting back into the game.
-Taiwan Deal looks the part
You wouldn’t have known the Badgers were still without their feature back watching Deal on Saturday night. He passed the 100-yard mark by halftime, which was the first time the freshman reached that mark in his young career. He didn’t have to bust the big run to be effective. His patience resulted in the Badgers breaking off first down after first down to wear down the Hawaii defense. After Deal’s work was done, Dare Ogunbowale finished the job and played Corey Clement’s 2014 role. Wisconsin’s offense requires two capable backs, and on Saturday night, the Badgers had no problem letting the ground game do the dirty work.
-Alex Erickson establishing himself as clear go-to receiver
Joel Stave might not admit it, but he has a favorite. Erickson is his guy. The senior showed that again on Saturday with seven catches in the first half alone. He had all but one of Wisconsin’s first-half completions. Austin Traylor has become the guy in the red zone. Stave connected with the tight end for a touchdown for the third straight week. Still, when Stave needs a third-down completion, Erickson is is safety net. That’s a good thing to have established as non-conference play wraps up.
What it means: Wisconsin can rely on defense
The Badgers are establishing themselves as one of the conference’s top defensive units. I understand that Wisconsin beat up on three mid-majors at home. But what else is a good defense supposed to do? Three points in three games is no joke. If this group is making actual strides, we’ll see it against a red-hot Iowa squad next week.