MADISON, Wis. -- For the second-straight week, an opposing team came into Camp Randall Stadium and left with no points to show for its visit.
The Wisconsin defense was dominant in pitching its second shutout of the season and leading the No. 21-ranked Badgers to a 48-0 rout of Tennessee Tech on Saturday.
You have to go back over half a century, to 1958, for the last time a Badgers team shut out back-to-back opponents to start a season. The blanking also stretches the UW defense's scoreless streak, which now stands at 11 quarters dating back to the Rose Bowl vs. Stanford.
"We definitely take a lot of pride in it," sophomore CB Darius Hillary said of the shutouts. "For these first two games, we've been defensively sound. We wanted to make the offense react to what we were doing, and not the other way around, and I think we did that."
Head coach Gary Andersen said all week that Tennessee Tech, and its speedy spread offense, would be a tough prep for the Badger defense. The Golden Eagles did show off a tricky spread attack mixed with triple-option elements Saturday, but Wisconsin responded by holding Tech to just 113 total yards on offense. That equaled the ninth-lowest total by an opponent in UW history, while the Golden Eagles' six first downs were the second-fewest ever allowed by a Badgers defense.
"We were able to get the edges contained so that they couldn't run around on the outside all the time," senior LB Conor O'Neill said. "They possessed a lot of unique things but we were able to have a good week of preparation and be able to stop it."
Possibly the most impressive part of the defense's start to the season is that it has managed to smother opposing offenses without any standout individual efforts. It has truly been a team effort for the Badgers. In both games this season Wisconsin has not had a player register double digit tackles on defense.
Stave stars on offense
Wisconsin QB Joel Stave was ruthlessly efficient through the air in the Badgers' win, setting career highs in completions (24), attempts (29) and touchdown passes (3) to go along with 219 passing yards.
Stave brushed off the adversity of his early second quarter interception by completing his next 13 passes. That included 10 consecutive connections on Wisconsin's final drive of the first half that resulted in his third touchdown pass of the game, a 6-yard scoring toss to TE Brian Wozniak.
"You want to throw completions. You want to give your guys a chance to make plays, and we're doing a great job protecting," Stave said. "I had plenty of time and if you can get the ball in the hands in the receivers and tight ends, they can make good plays, and the running backs for that matter."
Through his last six quarters, you would be hard-pressed to find a QB in the country more impressive than Stave. Since halftime last Saturday vs. UMass, the Greenfield, Wis., native is 29-for-33 for 380 yards, five touchdowns and an outstanding 273.9 passer rating.
Run, Badgers, run
Entering the 2012 Big Ten Championship Game vs. Nebraska, there had only been one instance in Wisconsin history in which three running backs each rushed for more than100 yards in a game. The Badgers have now accomplished that feat in three of their last four contests.
Freshman RB Corey Clement led the way with a 149 yards on the ground, including the big play of the day -- a 75-yard touchdown scamper in the fourth quarter. Sophomore Melvin Gordon contributed 140 yards and a score and senior James White ran for 109 yards and a touchdown.
"It's' been fun, just big competition with those guys to see who's next," Gordon said. "We've probably got the fans just sitting there like, ‘Who's next?' It's fun to go out there and compete and make those plays."
It is that "who's next?" mentality that drives the Wisconsin running backs, as the Badgers' trio is motivated by a sense of competition between one another that was instilled by running backs coach Thomas Hammock.
"I believe we have a very competitive group. That's what drives all of us," Clement added. "Without competing, you're really not going to go anywhere. I'm happy that I have them (White and Gordon) competing with me, because without competitors, what are you going to strive for?
"You can only beat yourself to a certain extent, so you have to have somebody to push you every day."
O'Neil steps in and shines at LB
O'Neil, a senior, has appeared in 42 games during his Badgers career, but had not started a game until Saturday. Starting in place of the injured Derek Landisch, O'Neil made the most of his opportunity, registering a team- and career-high nine tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss, also a career-high.
UW head coach Gary Andersen said that O'Neil took advantage of his opportunity, an opportunity the Delray Beach, Fla., native has waited a long time to have.
"I means a lot to me to be able to run out there with the first unit and get my first start," O'Neil said. "One of my goals coming into fall camp was to earn the respect of my teammates and the coaches and I hope that, especially after this game, I was able to do that a lot more."
• With the win Saturday, head coach Gary Andersen became just the third UW head coach since 1946 to begin his Badgers career 2-0. Andersen also upped his coaching record to 32-31, marking the first time that his career record has been above .500.
• White entered Saturday's game as the NCAA's active leader in career rushing touchdowns. He added to that total with his 2-yard scoring run, the 34th of his career, in the third quarter.
• Senior WR Jared Abbrederis's 6-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter, his third of the season, was the 19th of his career, tying him with Jonathan Orr and Al Toon for thir in Badgers history. Lee Evans is No. 1 all-time with 27 touchdown catches.
• Abbrederis also hauled in a career-high eight receptions, moving him into fifth place on Wisconsin's career reception list (134), passing Chris Chambers and Al Toon.
• Playing in his 37th career game, senior TE Brian Wozniak caught his first career touchdown pass, hauling in a 6-yard strike late in the first half.
• Making his first career start, sophomore FB Derek Straus' hauled in the first touchdown reception of his career in the first quarter, a 3-yard pass from QB Joel Stave.
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