MADISON -- The season opener was far from perfect, but it was typical Wisconsin football.
Over 400 rushing yards led No. 13 Wisconsin to a 38-17 victory over Akron Saturday. Starting tailback P.J. Hill had 210 yards and two touchdowns and back-ups Zach Brown and John Clay each scored.
UW head coach Bret Bielema’s game plan was simple: start fast and stick to the Badgers’ roots -- running the ball.
“With openers, you can get surprised with a lot of different nuances that the opponent might throw at you,” Bielema said.“We wanted to hit the ground running.
“Game plan was coming in we were going to run the football, run the clock and do what we do as far as time and possession and move forward.”
And the Badgers did just that.
Wisconsin ran six straight times on its opening possession before Allan Evridge hooked up with Garrett Graham for a 3-yard touchdown. Then after holding the Zips to a three-and-out, Hill ran four straight times on the ensuing possession and rumbled into the end zone to give the Badgers an early 14-0 lead.
But the running game wasn’t enough for Wisconsin as the Badgers still needed to shake off the Zips after halftime.
In the second quarter, Wisconsin turned the ball over twice in the red zone, allowing Akron to head into halftime with only a 17-10 deficit.
“We started real fast and had a pretty good first quarter,” senior cornerback Allen Langford said. “Then we came out the second quarter and we were kind of lackadaisical. We missed some tackles and we didn’t do everything we should have.”
Added Bielema: “I probably should have emphasized playing in the second quarter a little bit.”
After missing out on two scoring opportunities and allowing Akron to get back into the game in the second quarter, Wisconsin went back to its game plan after half time to take the lead and run with it.
The Badgers ran the ball on all seven plays of their first possession of the third quarter to go up 24-10. Then after Langford recovered a fumble on Akron’s ensuing possession, Wisconsin ran six out of its seven next plays to go up 31-10 and put the victory in safe hands.
“The run was working so well, we were happy just pounding and pounding it all day,” center John Moffitt said.
And if the season opener is any indication of what in store for the Badgers this year, it means there will be plenty more rushing to come.
“I think we want to put the ball, run the ball,” Moffitt said. “The great thing about (Saturday) is we did a lot of good things, but we can build on a lot of things and take that to the next weekend.”
Even new quarterback Allan Evridge doesn’t have a problem with sitting back and handing the ball off nearly every play.
“I have just as much fun passing the ball as I do us running the ball,” Evridge said.