Wisconsin Badgers cough up 17-point lead in loss to LSU


Melvin Gordon rambled 63 yards on the first play from scrimmage of the second half, setting up what would be a 2-yard touchdown run by Corey Clement just 2:36 into the third quarter that put the No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers on top of the No. 13 LSU Tigers Saturday at NRG Stadium in Houston, 24-7.

It was all downhill from there.

LSU (1-0) ran off 21 unanswered points and stunned the Badgers (0-1), 28-24, extending its NCAA record for most consecutive wins against non-conference opponents during the regular season to 46 games.

For Wisconsin, it was their first opening-game loss since 1997, and it was a bitter one.

Gordon, a Heisman Trophy candidate who is on several preseason award watch lists, was as good as advertised, with 140 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

But that’s the thing … he had just 16 carries.

"“Pretty much since I’ve been here, we’ve been coming up short in big games,” Gordon told reporters after the game. (h/t ESPN.com) “Obviously, people will say, ‘Wisconsin can’t win a big game.’ I’m pretty sure we’ll be hearing that all year.”"

Clement had 15 carries for 45 yards and a touchdown, but junior Tanner McEvoy, making his first start at quarterback, was just 8-for-24 for 50 yards and was picked off twice.

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Michigan State Basketball: Takeaways from Spartans' loss to Wisconsin
Michigan State Basketball: Takeaways from Spartans' loss to Wisconsin /

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  • Wisconsin scored on its first possession, hitting a 45-yard touchdown on an end-around by Reggie Love after the ball was faked to Gordon.

    The Badgers got points on their second possession as well, going up 10-0 when freshman kicker Rafael Gaglianone banged home a 51-yard field goal with 5:07 remaining in the first quarter.

    LSU finally got some offense going on its next possession … all at once. Sophomore quarterback Anthony Jennings took advantage of a breakdown in coverage and his Travin Dural for an 80-yard touchdown pass that cut the Badgers’ lead to 10-7.

    Wisconsin made their next break happen when Joe Schobert hit Travis Dickson in the flat after the Tiger fullback had caught a short pass, forcing the ball loose. It was recovered by Michael Caputo and the Badgers were in business at the LSU 31.

    Five plays later, Gordon found a seam and rambled 14 yards to the house to put Wisconsin up 17-7.

    LSU got points on its first drive in the second half after Gordon’s lightning bolt put the Badgers in the red zone and they eventually scored to go up 24-7.

    The Tigers drove 50 yards—44 of it coming on another connection between Jennings and Dural—to set up a 30-yard field goal by Colby Delahoussaye that cut Wisconsin’s lead to 24-10.

    LSU got a break on its next possession after Drew Meyer got off a terrible kick, shanking a punt 25 yards out of bounds at the LSU 40-yard line.

    The Tigers didn’t do a lot with the ball, but enough to set up Delahoussaye for a 47-yard field goal with 2:11 to go in the quarter.

    Another terrible kick by Meyer—this one 26 yards—gave the Tigers another short field as the third quarter ended.

    Jennings connected with Dural for 27 yards down to the Badgers’ 25 and after a fumble moved LSU back 10 yards, Jennings hit John Diarse for a 36-yard scoring pass and then connected with Trey Quinn for the two-point conversion, pulling LSU to within 24-21 with 12:08 to play.

    On a second-and-12 from the Wisconsin 33, McEvoy was intercepted by Jalen Mills, setting up LSU running back Kenny Hilliard carrying the mail 53 yards on three carries—capped by a 28-yard touchdown run—that put the Tigers ahead for the first time, 28-24, with 9:41 to play.

    The Badgers moved the ball out near midfield on their next possession before Ronald Martin intercepted McEvoy to end the threat.

    LSU burned 4:12 off the clock on their ensuing possession, pinning the Badgers at their own 10-yard line on Jamie Keehn’s punt with 2:23 left.

    The Badgers went three-and-out and punted, never getting the ball back. Hilliard carried three times for 11 yards and a first down and Wisconsin expended all of its timeouts, setting up a couple of victory formation kneel-downs by the Tigers.

    Hillard ran for 110 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown. Much ballyhooed freshman Leonard Fournette was kept under wraps, gaining only 18 yards on eight carries.

    Jennings was 9-for-21, but had 239 yards and two touchdowns. Dural’s three catches accounted for 151 yards of that total.

    Alex Erickson was the only Badger with more than one reception—he caught three balls for 33 yards.

    Wisconsin held LSU’s vaunted running attack to 2.7 yards per carry—126 yards on 47 attempts—but gave up too many big plays in the passing game.

    Wisconsin piled up 268 yards on the ground on 39 attempts, a 6.9 yard-per-carry average, but McEvoy’s ineffectiveness in the passing game hurt the Badgers.

    Wisconsin plays its home opener at 11 a.m. on Sept. 6 when they host FCS foe Western Illinois (1-0) at Camp Randall Stadium. The Leathernecks won their opener Thursday night, pummeling Valparaiso 45-6.