Clay powers Wisconsin to opening win

Wisconsin's coaches won't be overjoyed with what they saw Saturday night in Las Vegas.

Quarterback Scott Tolzien didn't look as polished as he usually does. The Badgers didn't take great care of the football. The defense gave up a few big plays in the second half.

But the one constant with Wisconsin is the run game, which steamrolled UNLV behind John Clay to a 41-21 win. Clay has been largely overlooked in the preseason awards talk, but he showed Saturday why he's one of the nation's best football players. Sure, he looks a bit bigger, but he ran with tremendous power and racked up 123 rush yards and two touchdowns on only 17 carries. Wisconsin mixed in Montee Ball and James White nicely, piling up 278 yards on the ground against UNLV.

Tolzien wasn't awful, but he's a true perfectionist and won't be pleased with his play. David Gilreath had a nice performance, both as a receiver and a return man, and defensive end J.J. Watt forced a fumble that Aaron Henry returned for a touchdown early in the second half that turned momentum. Wisconsin's defense looked dominant in the first half.

All in all, a decent performance. Wisconsin will take it and move on.