Alabama 35, Wisconsin 17
Sept. 5 – Derrick Henry ran for touchdowns from 37, 56 and two yards out as Alabama outslugged Wisconsin on the way to a grinding win. The Badgers kept it close in the first half with a six-yard Alex Erickson touchdown catch tying it at seven, and seemed ready to answer a 17-yard Robert Foster touchdown with a field goal at the end of the first half – but Rafael Gaglianone missed. It was all Henry from there, with two third quarter scores putting Bama up 28-7. A 43-yard Kenyan Drake touchdown run was the nail in the coffin, but the Badgers made it cosmetically better with a three-yard Robert Wheelwright touchdown catch in the final few minutes.
– Wisconsin has a fantastic defense – it’ll show it off over the course of the season – and the Crimson Tide offensive front ripped through it. The balanced attack had no problems running the ball, while Jake Coker came up with a nice, steady performance with no big mistakes and several good throws – but he had all day to throw. There were too many penalties – 11 for 120 yards – and there was a loose touchdown allowed late, but Bama dominated a very good team that should finish with a double-digit win season.
– Jake Coker completed 15-of-21 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown. Derrick Henry ran 13 times for 147 yards and three scores.
– There was no prayer of running the ball, so it was on Joel Stave to keep it interesting. He did. He threw a late pick, but he also completed 26-of-39 passes for 228 yards and was balling in the first half. Corey Clement had no room to move, and with no chance of coming up with anything of substance on first downs, and with no downfield passing game, the Badgers hit a wall. Alabama has five-star talent. Wisconsin doesn’t.
– Corey Clement ran eight times for 16 yards. Star safety Michael Caputo was knocked out of the game early on with an apparent concussion.
Alabama – Wisconsin Game Rating: C+
Alabama vs. Wisconsin Highlights
Derrick Henry Leads Alabama To Rout of Wisconsin
Follow and/or Contact @RichCirminiello
Count me out of the next offseason hand-wringing session involving the Alabama quarterback situation.
Not many programs in this day and age can handle the myriad hurdles associated with a muddled quarterback situation. Bama, though, is a perennial exception, because of the type of program Nick Saban and his staff have manufactured in Tuscaloosa. When you can bludgeon opponents with your defense and ground game, the way the Tide did versus Wisconsin tonight, the quarterback needs to be little more than a game manager.
Jacob Coker and Cooper Bateman aren’t all-league types, yet they were plenty efficient in Arlington against a solid Badger defense. Blake Sims never flashed next-level skills during his years at Alabama, yet he won 12 games and a league championship a year ago. Coker has the same potential in 2015, not because of his ability to carry a team, but because of his surrounding talent and staff.
Backs Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake plus another nasty defense, which held the vaunted Wisconsin ground game to single-digits until midway through the fourth quarter. Yeah, that’s a recipe for another title chase in T-town, despite all of the gray hairs and nervous energy that the quarterback derby spawned over the last six months.
Wisconsin Has No Answer for Alabama
Follow and/or Contact @PhilHarrisonCFB
New starting quarterback? Meh. An untested receiving corps? Yeah, yeah. Alabama looked to be the same football team that has given teams nightmares since Nick Saban arrived on campus and got things rolling.
If it’s the same old Tide, then it’s also a carbon copy for Wisconsin.
Yearly it seems, Wisconsin beats up teams that have average to above average talent, but when push literally comes to shove and it goes against a more talented, more physical team, the gap is evident. Granted, there are injuries on the O-line, but healthy or not, you can only pound teams into submission if there is an advantage physically. At some point, the Badgers need to get more players on the roster than can make things happen on the outside.
It’s a solid program in Madison, and one that 100 other campuses would love to have, but Wisconsin has been on the national stage long enough to take the next step and contend for the biggest of prizes. It came close when Russell Wilson was under center, but since then, it has gone back to smash and bash without the slash and dash.
There will always be a good running back and stud offensive linemen taking up residence in Camp Randall, and the schedule won’t be too daunting in the West division of the Big Ten in most years, but new head coach Paul Chryst now needs to claw and fight to get enough elite caliber athletes to get Wisky over the hump.