The normally dominant Wisconsin running game has been anything but that during the first two weeks of the season.
Today, the Badgers (1-1) host the Troy Trojans at Camp Randall Stadium. The Badgers ground attack ranks 107th out of 130 teams nationally, while the passing offense is 57th.
The Badgers are happy about the passing offense, but the ground game, which has been the cornerstone for success in Madison for years, is off to a rocky start.
What is the problem? First, the Badgers have struggled with injuries and youth on their offensive line. That group’s health is improving daily and the Badgers are continuing to work to find the top five players to go into Big Ten play in a couple of weeks.
The Badgers also have been without their top tailback Corey Clement who has been nursing a groin injury that could keep him out until the start of Big Ten play in two weeks.
The result is a running game that has averaged 114.0 yards per game, which ranks 14th in the Big Ten.
Clement’s absence means Dare Ogunbowale and Taiwan Deal will continue to get some valuable experience. Ogunbowale is averaging 6.4 yards per carry and just over 60 yards a game on the ground.
Troy comes in to the game today allowing 257.0 rushing yards per game. That should bode well for the Badgers, who should be able to stick to a ground attack and let their young offensive line begin to gain needed confidence.
Offensive Coordinator and line coach Joe Rudolph is still tinkering with the right side of the offensive line. But Rudolph will soon have to settle on his five players and run with it.
The Badgers enter today’s game having won 33 straight non-conference home games. The last home loss came in 2003, 23-5 to UNLV.
Wisconsin has outscored its opponents by an average of 38.4 to 13.6 during the streak, including six shutouts.
The Badgers secondary should get tested by Troy today, but the Trojans are in Madison for the paycheck. The Badgers will prevail in convincing fashion in the end.