Miami knew it headed to Madison as the 33-point underdog, but it didn’t expect a score like this. University of Wisconsin (1-1) dominated in the air and on the ground, blowing out the RedHawks (1-1) 58-0. The Badgers outgained Miami 451-157 in yards and 26-9 in first downs.
Despite the lopsided loss, head coach Chuck Martin didn’t see it as a setback.
“Today at halftime I said ‘hey we got a 30-minute scrimmage against a Big Ten team,’” Martin said. “We’d love to scrimmage them in the spring. They won’t scrimmage us because it’d be a waste of their time, but for us, it’s great work.”
Martin saw another positive in the RedHawks’ defense against the run. MU held the Badgers to 58 yards on 21 carries in the first half and 188 yards overall.
“We had them well under 100 at halftime,” Martin said. “Not that we’re stopping the run, but we were managing the run pretty good … I think probably with where our team is at and where [Wisconsin is] at, a really good game for us would be 27-7.”
The game was close in the first quarter after the ’Hawks saved two Badger touchdowns. In UW’s first possession, the Badgers marched down the field with an 11-play, 71-yard drive in 5:13 minutes. An overturned call on UW redshirt junior running back Dare Ogunbowale gave Miami a break, placing Ogunbowale at Miami’s 11-yard line to force a fourth down instead of a first-and-goal at the 4-yard line. The result was a 29-yard field goal, putting Wisconsin up 3-0 at the 9:47 mark.
Tight secondary coverage on UW junior receiver Robert Wheelwright in the end zone prevented another Badger touchdown and forced a field goal with 1:22 left. Wisconsin finished the first quarter with a 13-0 lead.
“We had some good confidence on defense and we were making them drive the football,” Martin said. “We were settling in and if we could just get to punts and survive in special teams, I think that it would’ve been fairly close at halftime.”
But the half ended with Wisconsin up 37-0.
Redshirt senior quarterback Drew Kummer started the game and went 1-for-3 for 8 yards with one interception before he was pulled in favor of freshman quarterback Billy Bahl.
Bahl’s first drive was a three-and-out, but he later put Miami in its first scoring position of the game, setting up senior Kaleb Patterson for a 37-yard field goal. Patterson missed wide right with 2:24 left in the second quarter.
Bahl’s next drive ended in an interception. Martin alternated Kummer and Bahl for the rest of the game.
Both QBs were beat up throughout the game. Though he was sacked twice for a loss of 12 yards, Bahl, who stands at 6-foot-4 and 248 pounds, shook off defenders to avoid several potential sacks and escaped late hits.
“Welcome to college football young man,” Martin said with a laugh.
Kummer was sacked once for a loss of 6 and was knocked to the ground after several passes.
“Their front seven is tough,” Bahl said. “We haven’t seen a D-line like that in a while. Having freaks like that up there is tough to block. Their DBs are very quick – quick to the ball and play the ball well … but as the games go on, reps go on, we’ll keep getting better at facing teams like that. But right now we’re just working with it and we gotta keep competing.”
Martin was quick to credit Wisconsin’s defense.
“They had guys climbing all over our two quarterbacks,” he said. “And guys aren’t exactly wide open out there on Wisconsin’s defensive backs. It was a long day.”
Kummer finished 6-for-14 for 62 yards and one interception, while Bahl completed 7 of 20 for 98 yards and two picks.
Bahl, who saw just one snap against Presbyterian College last week, enjoyed his first collegiate football experience.
“It was fun,” he said. “It was the most people I had ever played for and it was a crazy stadium, great atmosphere. I think we played well. We got a lot of things to work on. It was a little spotty. But it was fun to play some football, and we kept competing until the end, so that’s good to see.”
UW redshirt senior quarterback Joel Stave completed 19 of 30 passes for 236 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Ogunbowale finished with 112 yards on 16 carries with one touchdown, while Wheelwright led in receiving with 79 yards and two touchdowns on six catches.
Redshirt junior receiver Rokeem Williams led the RedHawk offense with 54 yards on three catches, and sophomore receiver Sam Martin totaled 46 yards on four catches.
Freshman running back Leonard Ross saw the bulk of Miami’s run game, notching eight touches for 16 yards. Redshirt freshman running backs Alonzo Smith and Kenny Young, who combined for 158 yards in last week’s win over Presbyterian, totaled six yards and three yards, respectively.
The RedHawks return to Oxford, Ohio next weekend for the homecoming game against University of Cincinnati. A week of practice stands between MU and UC, and Bahl believes today’s result will help prepare them for this and future games.
“It’s great for the mental part of the game,” Bahl said. “Knowing that Wisconsin is probably the best team we’re gonna play and that you can fare against that, it gives you a boost of confidence just to come out there and play your game and relax – in any game.”