Badgers bash Rutgers, 48-10, at Camp Randall Stadium
MADISON, Wis. — Three hundred sixty-four days after the Rutgers football team suffered a 37-0 loss to Wisconsin on Homecoming at High Point Solutions Stadium, déjà vu ensued in Madison.
With cold and damp conditions, it felt as if the only detail that changed aside from the final score was the location and its venue.
And in front of 74,575 at Camp Randall Stadium, the Scarlet Knights suffered another lopsided blowout. This time, the Badgers bashed the Knights by a final score of 48-10 on Saturday.
“It’s very frustrating,” said senior left tackle Keith Lumpkin. “But you’ve just gotta figure out what’s not working for you, sort it out, figure it out and get the job done.”
As far as Saturday went, Lumpkin and his teammates failed to come anywhere close to getting the job done at Wisconsin (7-2, 4-1).
Instead, Rutgers (3-5, 1-4) stumbled for its second consecutive loss. Dating back to last weekend against No. 1 Ohio State, the Knights have now been outscored by a whopping 97-13 margin.
As much as it appears that the team struggled to put up an all-around fight, the lack of production starts on the offensive side of the ball.
And as it is with the leader of any unit, that ultimately starts with the quarterback here.
After a season-worst performance last week against No. 1 Ohio State, Chris Laviano plunged even lower. The sophomore signal-caller played poorly without senior wide receiver Leonte Carroo, who was ruled out before kickoff after missing an entire week of practice with a lower body injury.
Highlighted by Laviano’s line of 4-for-14 and 31 yards to go with an interception and a fumble, Carroo’s absence partly showed the sophomore quarterback’s dependability on the Big Ten’s leading receiver.
After the game, Laviano didn’t have much to say about the sloppy performance that was his seventh career start.
“We just couldn’t really get anything going on offense,” he said.
Following the heroics from his 55-52 comeback win at Indiana, Laviano has regressed. In his past two starts against the Buckeyes and the Badgers, the Long Islander — known for his accuracy as the Big Ten’s leading passer entering Saturday — has fallen off, completing 41.2 percent of his passes at 14-for-34.
On top of that, he has two picks and a fumble lost with 148 yards.
Laviano was unable to capitalize off a ground game that played its part in the early going against a No. 8 Wisconsin rush defense that entered the contest yielding 97.3 yards per game.
Although the Knights finished the game with 83 yards on 38 carries, the stable of running backs galloped for 62 yards on 13 touches through the end of the first quarter.
From there, they were unable to do any further damage. With Laviano posing no threat in the passing game, the Badgers loaded the box and stuffed the run dead in its tracks.
Senior running back Paul James said the absence of the team’s star wideout kept Rutgers from opening up its offense entirely in the passing game.
“Whenever (Carroo) doesn’t play, we miss him,” James said. “He’s a playmaker, he makes plays out there and a lot of teams key on him. So that helps us out. He really opens up the running game for us, that with his presence out there. So we miss him a lot.”
The longest pass of the day came on junior wide receiver Carlton Agudosi’s 49-yard grab in the fourth quarter, but that came in garbage time from backup quarterback Hayden Rettig. The sophomore went 2-for-6 with 56 yards with the time he was given in the fourth quarter.
Head coach Kyle Flood, who inserted the LSU transfer at quarterback and benched Laviano in the fourth quarter, said he decided he wouldn’t make the decision until the game’s final quarter of play.
James, who ran for 16 yards on six carries, said the Knights fell behind on offense early on when the passing game stalled.
“It definitely makes it more difficult,” James said. “When that passing game’s open, it really opens up lanes in the running game. So when they pack the box, it makes it difficult to find the goals and really hit the runs.”
Wisconsin, meanwhile, had no shortage of production.
Despite the injuries that have ravaged the Badgers up and down the depth chart on both sides of the ball, they won the game of field position early on to take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Corey Clement led the charge in a ground game that swallowed up a Rutgers defense that couldn’t catch a break with the three-and-outs the offense succumbed to.
Clement, a New Jersey native from Glassboro, gashed the Knights for 115 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries in his first game back from a groin injury suffered in the season opener against Alabama.
His 21-yard scamper put Wisconsin up, 24-3, with 3:30 remaining in the first half. The Badgers then got the ball back once more and chipped a 27-yard field goal to head into the locker room with a 27-3 lead at halftime.
And it only got worse for Rutgers in the second half.
Wisconsin, which ran for 209 yards and five touchdowns on 38 carries, wore the Knights down throughout the two final quarters as the Rutgers offense sputtered.
The defense, which intercepted Joel Stave twice — one for a pick-six on true freshman cornerback Blessuan Austin’s 50-yard touchdown return at the 3:01 mark in the third quarter — made plays to help compensate for its lack of rest.
But the end result is what it is for the Knights — the latest reminder that they have a long way to go before saying they can legitimately compete on the road with the upper-echelon of the Big Ten.
Now, with a trip to Ann Arbor looming and the stage only increasing with bowl eligibility slimming, Flood and the Knights have no other option than to see if they can get things back on track when they take on No. 15 Michigan at the Big House.
“We go back to work. We watch the film and make corrections, and then we look at next week’s team,” Flood said. “We don’t play these teams more than once. The Wisconsin season is over for us right now. We’ve got to put our eyes forward and get ready for the next week.”
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