The Sports Xchange
MADISON — Senior linebacker Vince Biegel took to Twitter following seventh-ranked Wisconsin’s 48-3 rout against Illinois to squelch fans’ concerns about his late appearance in the victory.
Biegel’s competitive edge is tough to keep in check despite the fact he missed two games early last month following foot surgery. He returned to action on Oct. 22 in the Badgers’ win at Iowa. Wisconsin linebackers bothered position coach Tim Tibesar for more minutes and series.
When a fan inquired on social media why Biegel was on the field, he responded shortly after the game. “Because I wanted to be in,” Biegel wrote.
“I was still chomping at the bit to get in there, get some plays,” Biegel said. “We were ahead in the game but I was on coach Tibs’ back to get back in. T.J. Watt is the same way. We’re both competitors.”
Senior running back Corey Clement rushed for three touchdowns as seventh-ranked Wisconsin whipped Illinois in a Big Ten Conference game on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.
Clement, who finished with 25 carries for 123 yards, has rushed for 100-plus yards in four of the Badgers’ last five games. He also had one catch for 24 yards.
During Clement’s four-year career, Wisconsin has posted a 12-1 record when the standout runs for at least 100 yards.
Wisconsin continued its success on defense. The Badgers’ performance marked the third game their defense didn’t allow a touchdown this season. Besides Illinois, Michigan State and Iowa failed to score a touchdown in home losses against Wisconsin.
Illinois coach Lovie Smith said he was impressed with Wisconsin’s effort. The Illini were fresh off a late win over Michigan State on Nov. 5.
“We’ve played some good football games this year,” Smith said. “That has to be one of the best ones we’ve played.”
Senior Dare Ogunbowale had seven carries and 103 yards for Wisconsin (8-2, 5-2), which has won four straight games. Ogunbowale’s effort marked the second game this season that he collected 100-plus rushing yards.
Clement rushed for 2- and 4-yard scores in less than four minutes to give Wisconsin a 14-0 lead. Junior safety D’Cota Dixon set up the second drive with a 40-yard interception return to the Illinois’ 8-yard line. Two plays later, Clement rushed 4 yards for the score with 6:59 left in the second quarter.
Wisconsin’s defense took advantage of a spotty Illinois offense, as Illini freshman quarterback Jeff George Jr. threw four first-half interceptions. The Badgers collected 17 points - two touchdowns and one field goal - on three of those picks.
Wisconsin’s defense returned the ball 68 yards on four interceptions, compared with George’s 79 passing yards on five completions in two quarters of action.
George completed 5 of 16 passes for 79 yards and four INTs before being replaced by Wes Lunt. George orchestrated the 75-yard game-winning drive last week against Michigan State.
Smith said the Illini weren’t fazed by the QB switch against Wisconsin. Lunt entered the game at the start of the second half.
“We hung in there,” Smith said. “You know when you pull a guy, it’s tough when you do that. You always want to give quarterback a chance to come out of it but he never did.
“(Lunt) gave us the best chance to win. We considered him playing throughout the week.”
The Badgers held Illinois (3-7, 2-5) to 200 overall yards of offense and the Illini’s scoring output was the fewest points allowed by Wisconsin since it shut out Rutgers in 2014. The Illini were 0-for-9 in third-down situations.
Junior Kendrick Foster paced Illinois with 15 carries for 75 yards.
Senior safety Leo Musso had two interceptions for Wisconsin. Musso’s effort marked his second career two-interception performance.
One first-half highlight for Illinois was sophomore kicker Chase McLaughlin, who kicked a 31-yard field goal to put the Illini on the board with 3:22 left in the first quarter.
McLaughlin missed a 39-yard attempt that sailed wide right in the second quarter.
The Badgers utilized their two-quarterback system with freshman starter Alex Hornibrook and senior Bart Houston. Hornibrook completed 7 of 12 passes for 85 yards and one TD. Houston completed his lone attempt for a score.
Wisconsin senior kicker Andrew Endicott put points on the board with field goals of 37 and 21 yards.
One statistic that jumped out to Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst was the Badgers’ efficiency in the red zone. Wisconsin was 8-of-8 in red-zone scenarios.
“That’s what’s fun about football, it takes all 11 (players),” Chryst said. “I think they’re able to do that. There’s nothing magical about this game. It’s guys executing. There were a couple times where we couldn’t finish with touchdowns, and we can get better there. There was a lot of good execution.”
BADGER BITS: Entering the game against Illinois on Saturday, Wisconsin ranked third in scoring defense among FBS team with a 13.9 points-per-game average. ... Wisconsin owns a seven-game winning streak over Illinois in the series between the teams dating to 2008. The Badgers have won 11-of-12 against the Illini. The streak is the longest in the series between the teams. ... The last time Wisconsin scored 21 points in the first quarter was against Illinois in 2013, en route to a 56-32 Badgers’ road win.
Illinois............................ 3 0 0 0 — 3
Wisconsin...................... 21 10 3 14 — 48
WIS—C.Clement 2 yard rush (Endicott kick), 9:25.
WIS—C.Clement 4 yard rush (Endicott kick), 6:59.
ILL—C.McLaughlin 31 yard field goal, 3:22.
WIS—J.Peavy 8 yard pass from Hornibrook (Endicott kick), 0:13.
WIS—Penniston 7 yard pass from Ba.Houston (Endicott kick), 12:24.
WIS—Endicott 37 yard field goal, 0:04.
WIS—Endicott 21 yard field goal, 7:10.
WIS—C.Clement 2 yard rush (Endicott kick), 14:18.
WIS—B.Shaw 3 yard rush (Endicott kick), 5:01.
First Downs........................... 11 23
Rushes-Yards...................... 21-99 64-363
Passing................................ 101 92
Sacked-Yds Lost................... 0-0 1-5
Comp-Att-Int...................... 7-24-4 8-14-0
Return Yards......................... 48 130
Punts................................ 4-43.8 4-37.0
Fumbles-Lost........................ 0-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards..................... 5-46 4-34
Time of Possession............... 17:57 42:03
RUSHING-ILL, Kn.Foster 15-75, R.Corbin 3-21, Ke.Vaughn 1-2, George Jr. 1-2. WIS, C.Clement 25-123, Ogunbowale 7-103, B.Shaw 19-80, Deal 6-41, Ingold 3-8, J.Peavy 1-5, G.Dooley 1-5, Hornibrook 2-(minus 2).
PASSING-ILL, George Jr. 5-16-4-79, Lunt 2-8-0-22. WIS, Hornibrook 7-12-0-85, Ba.Houston 1-1-0-7, C.Clement 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING-ILL, Hardee 2-47, S.Mays 2-16, Z.Grant 1-15, Ma.Turner 1-12, Kn.Foster 1-11. WIS, J.Peavy 3-29, C.Clement 1-24, Ingold 1-15, Wheelwright 1-11, Penniston 1-7, B.Shaw 1-6.