Oct. 20, 2013
BY RYAN EVANS
UW Athletic Communications
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The Badgers’ offense got off to a quick start Saturday night against Illinois and never looked back, powering Wisconsin to a 56-32 win at Memorial Stadium for its first road win of the season.
After opening the game with 21 unanswered points, Wisconsin showed off an impressive dual-threat attack against the Fighting Illini -- producing a 100-yard rusher and receiver for just the second time this season -- and finished with a season-high 56 points.
"The offense was powerful,” UW head coach Gary Andersen said. “Good mix of run and pass. They're firing on all cylinders for the most part."
As usual, the Badgers' running game had a big night in the win, accounting for 289 yards and six of Wisconsin’s eight touchdowns. Sophomore RB Melvin Gordon again showed off the game-breaking ability that has made him one of college football’s breakout stars this season, rushing for 142 yards -- his sixth 140-yard effort in seven games this year -- and tying a career high with three touchdowns.
Gordon went over 1,000 yards for the season with his effort, tying him with P.J. Hill (2006) for the fastest Badger to reach 1,000 yards in a season, doing so in just seven games. Gordon now has 1,012 yards on the year.
“He still wows me every single week,” Andersen said of Gordon. “There is a run or two every single week. Both he and James [White] are special running backs. For Melvin to get over 1,000 yards is very impressive and I know he is excited about getting that done.”
Wisconsin now boasts 1,000 yard rushers in each of the last nine seasons, which is the longest active streak in the country.
While he finished two yards short of the century mark, White contributed more than his fair share to the win, scoring three total touchdowns and accounting for 127 total yards. White now has 39 career rushing TDs and 41 career touchdowns overall. Both marks lead all active FBS players.
Stave to Abbrederis
After leaving last week’s win over Northwestern with a head injury, WR Jared Abbrederis returned against the Illini and picked up right where he left off, hauling in eight passes for a game-high 106 yards -- the ninth 100-yard receiving game of his career.
With his performance in Champaign, Abbrederis moved past Travis Beckum into fourth place on UW’s all-time receptions list with 167 career catches.
QB Joel Stave had a strong day under center -- no doubt helped by the return of his favorite pass-catching target -- utilizing play action to toss two touchdowns and complete 76.2 percent of his passes, his second-highest mark of the season.
“When the defense starts creeping down [to defend the run], we can start taking shots over the top,” Stave said. “I think this offense is really powerful and really tough to stop.”
Trotter steps in and shines
Losing your star linebacker, especially one of Chris Borland’s caliber, would be a huge blow to any defense, but the Badgers were able to lessen the impact of the loss thanks to the play of junior LB Marcus Trotter.
Trotter made the most of his opportunity after replacing Borland in the first half, registering a team- and career-high nine tackles and 0.5 TFLs, breaking up a pass and recovering a fumble.
“Once I got in and got a couple reps everything seemed good and I felt really good out there,” Trotter said. “I made some mistakes here and there, but we got that fixed up. Chris should be fresh and healthy again, but I’m always there to help the team out.”
“I think Trotter did a great job,” Borland added. “It’s a difficult thing to step in cold turkey like that, and he didn’t miss a beat. He was right in on the calls and he preformed well.”
With Trotter, the 10th-ranked Wisconsin run defense -- which came in only giving up 90.1 yards a game on the ground -- didn’t miss a beat, holding Illinois to just 72 yards rushing.