The Wisconsin Badgers have built a reputation as one of the top rushing offenses in the nation year in and year out. Last season, Heisman Trophy finalist Melvin Gordon led the Badgers to the No. 4 rushing offense in the nation and a spot in the Big Ten title game.
This season, it was supposed to be Corey Clement leading the charge but he’s been sidelined the last two games after being limited in the season opener with what was being called a groin pull. But with news that Clement will be undergoing sports hernia surgery, sidelining him for the next four to six weeks, Wisconsin’s struggling running game looks to continue.
In a backup role to Gordon last season, Clement showed tremendous playmaking ability, rushing for 949 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 6.46 yards per carry. The team had every confidence in Clement stepping into the featured back role this season and get the Badgers back to the Big Ten Championship. But after suffering what the team diagnosed as a pulled groin just five days before their season opener against the Alabama Crimson Tide, Clement was limited to just 16 yards on eight carries before getting sidelined for the next two games against the Miami (OH) RedHawks and the Troy Trojans.
In his absence, the Wisconsin rushing attack has fallen on the shoulders of Dare Ogunbowale and Taiwan Deal. The pair have combined this season to rush for 339 yards on 69 carries, averaging 4.91 per carry, with four touchdowns. Despite the team’s 2-1 record and back-to-back blowout wins, the offense hasn’t had that same pop this season without Clement in the backfield. The Badgers rank No. 11 in the Big Ten in total offense, averaging just 373.3 yards per game, including a conference-worst 142.33 yards per game rushing. The running game, which has been the backbone of the Badgers’ offense for years now, simply hasn’t been cutting it.
Wisconsin was holding out hoping that Corey Clement would make his return to the offense and jumpstart the lagging rushing attack. But with him now sidelined for another month, can the Badgers find an offensive spark to get them through their Big Ten slate?