CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The fifth-best rushing offense in the country had little problem putting a hurt on the 97th-best rushing defense in the nation in Memorial Stadium Saturday night.
No.25 Wisconsin won its first road game of the season based on the success of Melvin Gordon, James White and Corey Clement accounting for seven of UW's eight touchdowns in a 56-32 victory over Illinois Saturday night.
Gordon scored three touchdowns and rushed for 142 yards to eclipse 1,000 yards for the season, tying former tailback P.J. Hill in the quickest in getting to that mark. White rushed for 98 yards, had 29 receiving yards and scored three touchdowns, while true freshman Corey Clement capped the scoring with a five-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten) scored a touchdown on its opening drive for the first time since week two, and hardly slowed down from that point. UW’s first three drives ended with rushing touchdowns as the Badgers piled up 289 rushing yards and 478 total yards.
Playing its first conference night game since 2008, Illinois (3-3, 0-2) cut the lead to 28-17 at halftime after the Badgers’ defense struggled to adjust to the Illini’s hurry-up offense and with senior linebacker Chris Borland on the sideline, but the Badgers’ running game came out firing in the second half to squelch any chance of an upset.
While Illini lost their 16th straight conference game, the Badgers won a Big Ten road night game for the first time since 2002 against Michigan State.
coverage from Badgernation.com, the Internet’s No.1 subscriber site for UW sports
Audio: Inside the Locker Room
Game recap: UW overcomes adversity to win first road game of the season
UW's running game preserves victory over Illinois
Badgers Notes: A mixed bag for UW's defense, but Marcus Trotter plays strong in place of Borland
From the other side: Illinois coordinator Tim Banks takes the blame
No.25 Wisconsin 56 Illinois 32
5 plays, 53 yards, 2:31 TOP, 10:33 left
James White 2-yard run (Jack Russell kick)
Key Play: Getting good field position to start the drive near midfield, Wisconsin got great field position thanks to the Melvin Gordon jet sweep. Much like the play that burned Northwestern, only flipped, Gordon went 28 yards down to the two-yard line, setting up White on the next play. It was UW's first touchdown on its opening drive since week two.
6 plays, 62 yards, 3:04 TOP, 6:03 left
Melvin Gordon 26-yard run (Jack Russell kick)
Key Play: A coverage bust in the secondary and a broke tackle by Gordon at the line of scrimmage opened up nothing but an open lane to the end zone.
3 plays, 8 yards, :48 TOP, 5:03 left
Brian Wozniak 2-yard pass from Joel Stave (Jack Russell kick)
Key Play: A little trickery by Illinois on a reverse causes a fumble by quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, who was lined up at wide receiver and couldn't handle the pitch coming in motion. UW's Ethan Hemer recovered on the Illinois 8.
13 plays, 67 yards, 6:24 TOP, 10:45 left
FG Taylor Zalewski 31
Key Play: With Chris Borland (right hamstring) on the sideline and questionable to return, Illinois - which had a combined minus-11 yards on its first four drives - efficiently moved the ball, including a 20-yard completion to Steve Hull, who was wide open between Dezmen Southward and Darius Hillary at the UW 20. UW's red-zone defense responded, however, as Derek Landisch registered a sack on Scheelhaase on third-and-2 from the 3.
4 plays, 57 yards, 1:58 TOP, 6:38 left
Josh Ferguson 1-yard run (Zalewski kick)
Key Play: A few minutes after Joel Stave badly underthrew a pass to Jared Abbrederis that would have resulted in a touchdown, Illinois fakes dive and Hull utilizes a little stutter step to beat Darius Hillary in one-on-one coverage, giving the Illini a first down on the UW 6 after a 51-yard gain.
10 plays, 75 yards, 4:43 TOP, 1:55 left
Melvin Gordon 1-yard run (Russell kick)
Key Play: After missing a would-be touchdown on the last drive, Stave made up for it by stepping up in the pocket on second-and-26 and hitting Jacob Pedersen, who made a tremendous leaping grab for a first down at the Illinois 1.
5 plays, 65 yards, 1:10 TOP, :45 left
Matt LaCosse 1-yard pass from Aaron Bailey (Zalewski kick)
Key Play: Wisconsin looks like a hot mess when Illinois runs its hurry-up offense. Confusion up front has caused no pressure on Scheelhaase, who is picking apart UW's secondary. Ryan Lankford's 39-yard completion in single coverage against Peniel Jean set up the Illinois score.
9 plays, 75 yards, 5:05 TOP, 9:55 left
James White 3-yard pass from Joel Stave (Russell kick)
Key Play: Starting the drive with four straight runs, Wisconsin switched things up with a play-action screen to James White, which, thanks to a nifty shift, went 30 yards to the Illinois 16.
5 plays, 65 yards, 2:20 TOP, 8:18 left
Melvin Gordon 13-yard run(Russell kick)
Key Play: Busting an inside run to the outside, Melvin Gordon was untouched and went over 1,000 yards on the season, tying P.J. Hill for the quickest to do so in UW history.
4 plays, 53 yards, 1:15 TOP, 11:38 left
Nathan Scheelhaase 1-yard run (Tim Russell pass to Jon Davis)
Key Play: Going for a deep pass on first down from its own 47, Illinois benefited from a pass interference penalty on Darius Hillary (his second coverage penalty of the night), getting a first down on the UW 38.
6 plays, 46 yards, 3:06 TOP, 8:32 left
James White 1-yard run (Russell kick)
Key Play: Joel Stave's 18-yard pass to Jared Abbrederis put the senior widout over 100 yards and got UW to the Illinois 11.
9 plays, 39 yards, 5:39 TOP, 2:20 left
Corey Clement 5-yard run (Russell kick)
Key Play: Registering its second turnover of the game, senior defensive end Tyler Dippel stripped the ball from Donovonn Young and Marcus Trotter recovered on the Illinois 39.
7 plays, 78 yards, 1:36 TOP, :44 left
Spencer Harris 29-yard pass to Reilly O'Toole (Zalewski kick)
Key Play: Illinois delivers one final blow to UW's secondary. Harris with a great grab over Jakarrie Washington for the score.
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