(Saturday, August 30th)
Final Score: (13) Wisconsin 38, Akron 17
Madison, WI (Sports Network) - P.J. Hill rushed for over 200 yards for the second time in his career with 210 yards and two touchdowns to lead 13th- ranked Wisconsin over Akron, 38-17, in the season opener for both teams at Camp Randall Stadium.
Allan Evridge completed 7-of-10 passes for 75 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the Badgers (1-0), who won their 15th straight home game. Wisconsin outgained Akron in total yards, 479 to 297, as the Badgers took the first step towards winning their first Big Ten title since 1999.
Chris Jacquemain was 22-of-36 for 227 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for the Zips (0-1), who fell to 1-17 against current members of the Big Ten.
The Badgers scored on the game's opening drive and they led the rest of the way. Hill got off to a strong start as he rushed for 32 yards on the first four plays from scrimmage. On the ninth play of the 67-yard drive, Garrett Graham hauled in a three-yard touchdown pass from Evridge to give the Badgers the 7-0 advantage.
"Obviously during the course of the week you have a certain emphasis as a coaching staff; one of the things we talked about was starting fast," said Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema. "With openers you can get surprised with a lot of different nuances that the opponent might throw at you. We wanted to hit the ground running and I do feel that we did that."
Akron failed to move the chains on its first possession and it didn't take long for the Badgers to extend their lead to 14-0. The four-play, 61 yard drive was all Hill as he rushed for three yards, 10 yards, 46 yards and then one yard to cap it off with the score.
The Zips second offensive drive was plagued by three penalties, forcing them to punt, and once again the Badgers made them pay. Philip Welch made a 32-yard field goal eight seconds into the second quarter to make it a 17-0 affair.
But Akron did not give up, ending the half with 10 unanswered points to make it a seven-point game at intermission.
Jacquemain tossed a three-yard touchdown pass to Merce Poindexter with 10:44 left in the half and then Bryan Williams ran an Evridge interception down to the Wisconsin 38 which eventually set up an Igor Iveljic 26-yard field goal with two seconds left in the half.
However, Wisconsin came out of the locker room and outscored the Zips 14-0 in the third quarter. After Akron was forced to punt on its first possession, Hill ran for a one-yard score on a fourth-and-goal to give the Badgers a 24-10 edge. Hill highlighted the 55-yard drive with a 34-yard run down to the Akron 10.
"I would probably give the game ball to the offensive line," said Bielema. "They controlled the line of scrimmage and were able to move Akron up front, even pick up guys on the second level. I thought our running backs took advantage of the opportunities they had."
After Dennis Kennedy fumbled on the ensuing possession, Wisconsin got the ball back and made it a 31-10 contest with 6:20 left in the third. Zach Brown completed the seven-play, 65-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run.
Each team capped off the scoring with a touchdown in the fourth. John Clay became the third Badger running back to score a touchdown in the game with a nine-yard run early in the period, and then Jacquemain hit Alphonso Owen with an 11-yard touchdown pass with only 38 seconds to play.
New Jersey Nets guard and former Badger Devin Harris was at the game...Wisconsin leads the all-time series between the two teams, 2-0, also capturing a 48-31 victory in 2003...Wisconsin has won 11 straight home openers.
08/30 19:32:20 ET