(AP) No. 23 Wisconsin stifles UMass 45-0 in opener
By GENARO C. ARMAS
AP Sports Writer
New coach, same ol’ Badgers.
Melvin Gordon ran for 144 yards and a 70-yard touchdown, James White added 143 and a 51-yard score, and No. 23 Wisconsin’s revamped defense throttled Massachusetts in a 45-0 victory Saturday over Massachusetts in coach Gary Andersen’s debut.
Newly-minted starting quarterback Joel Stave overcame a slow start to connect with receiver with Jared Abbrederis for two long touchdowns in the second half.
It was 31-0 with 10:31 to go in the third quarter by the time White sauntered through the line untouched and into the end zone for a 51-yard score.
The only tradition left to put this Badgers opener in the books was for the Camp Randall Stadium public address system to blare House of Pain’s “Jump Around” to get the fans in the stands hopping for the fourth quarter. Many in the student section scattered soon afterward with the game well in hand.
UMass was simply overmatched against the Big Ten’s three-time defending champion. The Minutemen are only in their second year as a major college program, and they had to play Saturday with two of their top offensive players in running back Jordan Broadnax and tight end Rob Blanchflower out with injuries.
Stacey Bedell finished with 70 yards on 19 carries for UMass.
Otherwise, Wisconsin couldn’t have scheduled a better opponent for Andersen to make his debut in Madison. He sported a black visor and a white pullover on a warm, sticky afternoon, conferring with his Badgers on the field while Camp Randall rocked during “Jump Around” before the fourth quarter.
Andersen replaced Bret Bielema, who left in December to take the Arkansas job. Andersen arrived from Utah State, where he led the Aggies to a school-record 11 wins in 2012.
Andersen promised the running game would remain a big part of the Badgers attack, even with standout Montee Ball now gone. But new regimes always bring questions as to how a team might look, at least until actual games are played.
Well, the running game remains alive and well at Wisconsin. Even backup Corey Clement ran for 101 yards on 16 carries, mainly in the second half.
Gordon got 13 carries while White had 11.
The Minutemen didn’t actually flaunt a sturdy defense to begin with. UMass gave up more than 40 points a game last season.
At Wisconsin, Andersen switched the base defense to a 3-4 scheme, and the Badgers showed now problems picking it up Saturday.
After Stave’s 4-yard touchdown run gave Wisconsin a 7-0 lead, Brendan Kelly forced a fumble that was recovered by Ethan Armstrong. He finished with five tackles, while fellow senior linebacker Chris Borland had nine stops.
Stave was intercepted on a deep pass down the middle by Devin Brown on the next play. He was 4 of 11 at the half with 36 yards.
But he recovered in the second half, helped by adjustments by Abbrederis on both of his long touchdown catches that were slightly off target. Burning his defender each time in man coverage, Abbrederis’ scores came from 65 and 57 yards.
Stave finished 9 of 17 for the game for 197 yards.