Wisconsin vs. Alabama: Final Thoughts From the Badgers 35-17 Loss


After an offseason filled with hype and anticipation of the 2015 season opener against Alabama, the game did not go the way Badger nation had hoped for. Facing one of the elite teams in the country, we were able to learn a lot about this Wisconsin team. Just days removed from the Wisconsin Badgers’ 35-17 loss to the Tide, here are some of the takeaways from the Wisconsin vs. Alabama game.

Joel Stave’s Impressive Night

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Perhaps the biggest beneficiary to the addition of head coach Paul Chryst would be the Badgers’ quarterback. For the first time in his career, Joel Stave went into fall camp without having to fight for his job. Chryst named him the starter in the spring, and Stave responded with a solid performance one of the nation’s best defenses.

Stave showed confidence and played a nearly perfect first half, as he completed 14 of 16 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown. With little help from the running game, it was Stave who kept the Badgers in the game – something Wisconsin fans never thought they would see.

Alabama made some halftime adjustments, and Stave finished 26 of 39 for 228 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Still, it was promising to see him play so well against one of college football’s best defenses with the absence of a running game.

Offensive Line Troubles

The biggest question coming into the game was whether Wisconsin’s offensive line would be able to handle the front seven of Alabama. The Tide controlled the line of scrimmage, and Badgers’ running backs never had any room to run. The backfield trio of Corey Clement, Dare Ogunbowale and Taiwan Deal combined for 39 yards rushing on 17 carries.

Overall, the offensive line did an OK job pass blocking. Stave was sacked three times, and the game plan featured quite a few quick throws, which made sense for the inexperienced unit. Hopefully the offensive line can show gradual progress before it is tested again in the conference opener against Iowa on Oct. 3.

Injured Stars

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  • Fifth-year strong safety Michael Caputo left the game with a concussion on the opening drive, and the loss of the Badgers’ 2014 leading tackler was significant. Alabama attacked the middle of the Wisconsin defense through the air, and running back Derrick Henry scored a pair of long touchdown runs right up the middle. The Badgers missed their defensive leader in a big way.

    Clement injured his groin during the week leading up to Saturday night’s contest and was limited during the game. He finished with 16 yards on eight carries, but Clement had no holes to run through even if he was fully healthy, so it may not have made much of a difference.

    Wisconsin came into the Arlington as a double-digit underdog, and the task became impossible without its top defensive player for nearly the entire game and its best offensive player not at 100 percent.

    Chryst sounded optimistic about Clement’s availability for Saturday’s game against Miami (Ohio), but Caputo’s status is uncertain as he goes through concussion protocol.

    The Badgers needed a perfectly-played game in order to pull the upset. Wisconsin will now move on to more favorable matchups against Miami (Ohio), Troy and Hawaii at Camp Randall Stadium to close out the non-conference schedule. While the Badgers attempt to get healthier, Stave will need to prove he can be a consistent quarterback, and Wisconsin’s running game will have to get better before the Big Ten schedule begins.

    Next: Know Your Opponent: Miami (Ohio)

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