Sports

No. 18 Badgers, McEvoy get boost headed into early bye, look to build passing game

  • Wisconsin quarterback Tanner McEvoy throws past Western Illinois's J.J. Raffelson (43) during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin won 37-3. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

    Wisconsin quarterback Tanner McEvoy throws past Western Illinois's J.J. Raffelson (43) during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin won 37-3. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)  (The Associated Press)

  • Wisconsin's Alex Erickson gets past Western Illinois's David McDaniel (22) after a catch during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin won 37-3. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

    Wisconsin's Alex Erickson gets past Western Illinois's David McDaniel (22) after a catch during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin won 37-3. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)  (The Associated Press)

No. 18 Wisconsin heads into an early bye week on a positive note after finding success through the air.

Tanner McEvoy had a confidence-building outing after throwing for three touchdowns and running for another score Saturday against lower-division Western Illinois.

With star running back Melvin Gordon held to 38 yards on 17 carries, McEvoy stepped up after a slow start.

It was valuable experience for the first-year starting quarterback, given opponents will likely continue to focus on the run until the Badgers show consistency through the air.

The Badgers' running game was also missing injured fullback Derek Watt, a key blocker. Still, right tackle Rob Havenstein says the offensive line has to open holes in the running game no matter how many defenders are in the box.