Wisconsin vs Alabama: Corey Clement vs Tenacious Alabama D Key Matchup to Watch


The start of the Corey Clement era begins Saturday night inside AT&T Stadium against Alabama in the AdvoCare Classic. One key matchup to keep an eye on is the talented Wisconsin Badgers running back going head on with a very tough Alabama defensive front seven. 

Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin Badgers /

Wisconsin Badgers

Last year Clement ran for an impressive 949 yards and nine touchdowns all while playing second fiddle to Melvin Gordon and his magical season. In his two years at Madison, Clement has compiled 1,496 yards and 16 touchdowns, mainly in a backup role. With Gordon off to the NFL and the San Diego Chargers, it’s now Clement’s time to add his name to the long line of great running backs that have come through the University of Wisconsin.

But the start to the Corey Clement era will not get off to any easy start by any means.

Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart returns a talented defense that last year was very impressive against the run. Throwing the Ohio State game out the window, the Tide allowed just 88.7 yards per game on the ground and did not allow a team to rush for more than 183 yards rushing. That looks to continue again this year and it starts with the very skilled front seven of Alabama.

Defensive end A’Shawn Robinson is arguably one of the most talented players on defense in the country. At 6’4” and 312 pounds, Wisconsin’s offensive line will have a very hard time moving this big body out-of-the-way to make room for Clement. With nose tackle Darren Lake (315 pounds) and defensive end Jarran Reed (313 pounds) lining up with Robinson, it’s going to be tough to move these three up front at all.

If Wisconsin can open up holes up front, they must get to the second level and face another wave of talented defenders. It starts with two middle linebackers Reggie Ragland and Reuben Foster. Ragland was second on the team in tackles a year ago with 95 and Foster is a former five-star recruit and the top linebacker in a top ten recruit in the class of 2013. With finally getting his opportunity to start, Foster has a chance to be a breakout player on defense. Senior Dillon Lee is a versatile outside linebacker that can play inside as well and outside linebacker Denzel Devall is an experienced player that is really going to add to the linebacker corps.

What it really comes down to is Wisconsin’s offensive line, who was never able to practice as one whole unit during fall camp due to injuries, opening up holes for Clement. Last season Gordon seemed to create his own holes that weren’t there by using his elusiveness and quickness to make something out of nothing. I don’t know if Clement is able to do that. He’s very talented but he does not have the quickness and pull away speed that Gordon had.

Something is going to have to give on Saturday night. The Badgers are well-known for running the football and that will not change against the Tide. Alabama returns the most talented group of defenders this year that will have a chip on their shoulder after being gashed for big yards against Auburn and Ohio State last year. It’s a key matchup that everyone should be looking forward to.

Next: Wisconsin vs Alabama: Game Info, Live Stream, Odds and More

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