With first-half moans and groans turning into cheers and a scoring barrage, No.23 Wisconsin delivered a decisive statement in it season-opening 45-0 win over UMass Saturday at Camp Randall stadium.
The Badgers (1-0) won their 16th straight season opener, a streak that dates back to 1998 and is tied with USC for the third-longest active streak in college football. The Badgers have also won 18 consecutive home openers dating back to 1996.
And like they've often done over the years, Wisconsin's running game set the pace.
Getting four rushing touchdowns by four different players, Wisconsin saw its two main rushing weapons go over 100 yards, as Melvin Gordon rushed for 144 yards and James White added 143. As a team Wisconsin rushed for 393, averaging 8.7 yards per carry.
Winning the starting spot in fall camp, Joel Stave and the passing game were sluggish and off target in the first 30 minutes, but found his groove in the third quarter with a 65-yard and 51-yard touchdown passes to Jared Abbrederis off the play-action pass. Stave finished 9-for-17 for 195 yards, those two scores and one interception.
Wisconsin scored on its first four drives of the second half, turning an uneasy 17-0 lead into a blowout.
Playing without its starting running back and tight end, UMass (0-1) managed only 212 yards and 3.6 yards per play offensively, stymied by the Badgers' 3-4 defense. It was the first time the Badgers opened the season with a shutout since 1994 (56-0 over Eastern Michigan).
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5 plays, 70 yards, 2:24 TOP, 12:19 left
Joel Stave 4-yard run (Kyle French kick)
Key Play: On the second play from scrimmage, James White showed off his speed, finally a crease on the left side of the line for a 47-yard gain down to the UMass 17.
14 plays, 57 yards, 7:30 TOP, :17 left
FG Kyle French 26
Key Play: On a third down inside the 20, Stave, who has looked shaky passing the ball early, finds Derek Watt for a 12-yard.
2 plays, 70 yards, :19 TOP, 3:33 left
Melvin Gordon 70-yard run (Kyle French kick)
Key Play: Melvin Gordon found a seam between Wisconsin's right tackle and right guard and was off to the races, burning past the secondary to go untouched.
1 play, 65 yards, :12 TOP, 13:38 left
Jared Abbrederis 65-yard pass from Joel Stave (Kyle French kick)
Key Play: After underthrowing the same pass twice in the first half, Stave, thanks to great protection from his OL, put a little extra behind his deep ball. The pass went approximately 50 yards in the air and hit Abbrederis right in stride.
3 plays, 65 yards, 1:25 TOP, 10:31 left
James White 51-yard run (Kyle French kick)
Key Play: White waited for his offensive line to get on its blocks, including a great pull block by senior Ryan Groy, to spring him for his first rushing touchdown of the season.
5 plays, 78 yards, 2:09 TOP, 4:46 left
Jared Abbrederis 57-yard pass from Joel Stave (Kyle French kick)
Key Play: In an almost exact carbon copy of the duo's first touchdown, Stave had a good play fake to Corey Clement, found Abbrederis in one-on-one coverage and the senior wide receiver made a nice catch and jogged into the end zone.
8 plays, 67 yards, 4:12 TOP, 13:30 left
Corey Clement 23-yard run (Kyle French kick)
Key Play: No matter which running back is on the field, the Badgers' offensive line is opening up some major lanes to run through. Corey Clement shook a couple tackles, but got a nice seam to run through for his first collegiate touchdown.
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