Clement, Badgers rough up Rutgers, 48-10
MADISON -- Dressed neatly in a suit postgame after a productive return to the field, Corey Clement flashed a wide smile after sitting down in front of cameras.
A day two months in the making for the Wisconsin Badgers had finally arrived with the successful return of their top running back.
Clement rushed for three scores and 115 yards in his first game in eight weeks, powering Wisconsin to a 48-10 victory on Saturday over Rutgers.
"It felt great to be back out there," Clement said. "I couldn't ask for anything else from this game."
Clement had 11 carries, including a 21-yard scamper to the end zone after the junior burst through a narrow hole on the left side of the line for a 24-3 lead with 3:30 left in the second quarter.
The Badgers (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten) overwhelmed the Scarlet Knights (3-5, 1-4) in their first trip to Madison.
It was a Halloween to remember for Clement following his eagerly-anticipated return from sports hernia surgery.
He hadn't played since the season opener against Alabama, then tried to practice for a couple weeks through what he thought was a less serious groin injury. He then divulged more details to team medical staff.
Five weeks after having the surgery, Clement is back to ignite what had been an uncharacteristically so-so Badgers rushing attack.
"It was a bigger boost seeing him make some runs than just seeing him in the huddle," coach Paul Chryst said.
Wisconsin's defense hasn't missed a beat while Clement was away.
Under constant pressure, quarterback Chris Laviano was just 4-of-14 for 31 yards with an interception. The offense mustered a season-low 165 yards, with only running back Josh Hicks managing some success with 72 yards on 15 carries.
"We started off early running the ball but we kind of fell behind and weren't able to pick it up," running back Paul James said.
James ran for 16 yards on six attempts.
Rutgers played without senior Leonte Carroo, who led the conference with 346 yards receiving on 17 catches coming into the weekend.
Defensive backs blitzed. Outside linebackers Joe Schobert and Vince Biegel were constant disruptions.
Save for one drive in the first quarter, the sure-handed linebackers and secondary contained the Scarlet Knights' skill position players.
"They present a lot of issues," Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said.
Rutgers' only touchdown came when freshman Blessaun Austin intercepted a poor pass by Wisconsin's Joel Stave and returned it 50 yards for a score in the third quarter.
Stave finished 13 of 25 for 217 yards and a touchdown. He had another pass intercepted off a deflection.
Otherwise, it was all Wisconsin on a rainy, chilly day in Madison.
The Badgers' drives on average started at their own 47, while Rutgers on average started at its 25. The Scarlet Knights were held to eight three-and-outs.
Wisconsin got a lucky bounce, too.
A deep pass down the left sideline from Laviano caromed off the helmet of linebacker Joe Schobert, who was covering the receiver with his back to the quarterback. The ball landed in the hands of trailing safety Tanner McEvoy for an interception.
McEvoy, a two-way player who lines up at receiver, added a 20-yard touchdown run on a direct snap for a 48-10 lead with 9:47 left in the game.
By that time, most of the announced crowd of about 74,500 fans had left with the game well in hand.
Clement took a well-earned break, too, barely moving as he leaned back on the bench for much of the fourth quarter. His last rush was his longest of the afternoon, a 58-yard dash with about 2 minutes left in the third quarter to the Rutgers 4.
If it wasn't for the injury, Clement would probably have scored his fourth touchdown of the day on that play. Instead, safety Anthony Cioffi tracked down Clement from behind.
"No, that's not running out of gas," Clement said. "It was just getting through the soreness."
For Rutgers, it was a second straight blowout loss to a Big Ten power. Ohio State beat the Scarlet Knights 49-7 last week in Piscataway.
Their hopes to get three more wins to reach bowl eligibility took a hit, and the outlook isn't so good either next week with a trip to Michigan.