GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Wisconsin Badgers feel overlooked and underappreciated, and they’re out to prove detractors wrong.
For proof, consider how Wisconsin outmuscled and outworked LSU in upsetting the fifth-ranked Tigers.
“I feel like we were out to gain respect, and I think we did it at the end of the day,” linebacker T.J. Watt said.
The barreling Badgers set the tone during most of the 16-14 victory on Saturday. The biggest hit from LSU turned out to be the leveling blow that offensive lineman Josh Boutte administered to Wisconsin’s D’Cota Dixon after the safety’s late-game interception .
“We’re not going to discuss what happened after the play,” outside linebacker Vince Biegel said. “We’re happy to get a win today and move forward.”
For starters, Wisconsin is probably headed back into the AP Top 25 when the next poll comes out on Tuesday.
The Badgers should have two easier nonconference games coming up at Camp Randall Stadium, starting with Akron on Sept. 10 and Georgia State the following week.
The schedule gets a lot tougher from there.
Wisconsin travels to Michigan State on Sept. 24, followed by Michigan the following week. After a bye, Ohio State visits Camp Randall for a prime-time showdown on Oct. 15.
Then Wisconsin plays Iowa on the road, Nebraska in a night game at home and Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois.
The Badgers will be tested. Coach Paul Chryst might have a better team than the one that finished 10-3 in 2015, but a worse record.
But go ahead and doubt Wisconsin because running back Corey Clement plans to keep feeding off the questions. He wondered after the win against LSU how it might be perceived outside of Badger Nation.
“Excuses are still going to be made as to why they lost. But I know what we’ve got as a team,” Clement said. “Bring on the excuses.”
Clement, in particular, played with an edge. Injuries and an off-field issue maligned a 2015 season in which he was supposed to take over as the latest star running back at Wisconsin, in the lineage of Melvin Gordon, Montee Ball and Ron Dayne.
Coming into Saturday, Clement was overshadowed by the Heisman Trophy hype surrounding LSU’s Leonard Fournette, who finished with 138 yards on 23 carries.
Clement also had a respectable day, especially against LSU’s stingy defense, with 86 yards and a score on 21 carries.
“They still keep saying that we’re not among the best,” Clement said. “This season is going to be one to show for it.”
Known for his breakaway speed, Clement also showed toughness in the third-quarter drive in which he carried four straight times. On the last carry, Clement barreled through tacklers and just got the ball to cross the goal line for a 5-yard touchdown run.
Quarterback Bart Houston looked like a fullback too, in his first collegiate start, after two scrambles for gains in which he lowered his head and plowed forward into tacklers.
Chryst also liked the toughness that he saw on his offensive and defensive lines, which were positions with questions coming into the season. The offensive line fared well even with redshirt freshman Jon Dietzen taking over at left guard after sophomore Micah Kapoi left with a left leg injury.
LSU’s offensive line, which started two new tackles, had some issues that started before Boutte’s hit. That play started with Biegel coming unblocked on a blitz known in the Wisconsin playbook as “Psycho Track.”
Quarterback Brandon Harris dodged left to get out of the way, slipped and then recovered but threw inside of his receiver. Dixon was there for an easy pick.
“I’m excited about what the future holds for this defense and this Wisconsin Badger football team,” Biegel said.
Online: AP College Football site: http://collegefootball.ap.org/
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