The 17/19 ranked Wisconsin Badgers pulled away in the second half to knock off the South Florida Bulls 27-10 in the final non-conference game at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday.
The game was ugly early and the Bulls managed to take a 3-3 tie into the lockerroom at halftime against the Badgers. Wisconsin managed just 139 yards of total offense in the first half.
Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon and Rob Havenstein both felt the need to address the team at halftime. “We were walking in and we said we’ve got to talk to these guys,” Gordon said. “I was having flashbacks of Week 2, and we went in that game and I didn’t say anything and big Rob didn’t say anything.
“This time we felt like we needed to rally our offense together and speak up. We motivated those guys and obviously we were a different team.”
The halftime message must have hit home. Wisconsin opened the second half with a 75-yard touchdown drive that used eight plays and was capped off with a Gordon seven yard touchdown run.
Gordon scored another touchdown the next time he touched the ball and the Badgers were out in front 17-3 midway through the 3rd quarter.
The Bulls answered that score with their only touchdown drive of the day, four-plays, 75-yards, capped off by Rodney Adams 26-yard touchdown run.
The puzzling thing for the Badgers is their first half starts. Coach Gary Andersen knows it has to improve.
Andersen also knows the passing game has to get better as well. Tanner McEvoy finished 11 of 18 for 160 yards and a touchdown.
Melvin Gordon finished with 181 yards rushing on the day, moving him to 12th all-time at Wisconsin with 2,940 career yards, passing Rufus Ferguson (1970-72) who had 2,814 yards. Gordon passed 100-yards in a game for the 13th time in his career and rushed for at least 140 yards for the 12th time in the last 19 games.
The Badgers now look to the Big Ten opener at Northwestern next Saturday and the question is, are they ready?
Northwestern (2-2, 1-0 Big Ten) knocked off previously unbeaten Penn State 29-6 on the road on Saturday.