MADISON, Wis. -- Corey Clement waited eight weeks to return from a sports hernia injury that wrecked his chances of being considered, at least statistically, among the best running backs in the country this season. So you'll have to forgive him for his over exuberance during a triumphant comeback on Saturday afternoon.
Clement scored three rushing touchdowns to help Wisconsin defeat Rutgers 48-10 at Camp Randall Stadium. His first touchdown, a 12-yard run in the first quarter, resulted in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after he tossed the football high in the air during his celebration in the back of the end zone.
Still, there wasn't much for Badgers fans or coaches to be upset about given the all-around dominant performance. Clement ran for a second touchdown on a 21-yard toss play around the left side during the second quarter and banged in a 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. He finished with 11 carries for 115 yards. His 58-yard third-quarter run down to the Rutgers 4-yard-line was the team's longest play from scrimmage this season. The defense, meanwhile, continued to show why it is considered among the best in the nation.
Clement initially suffered what he thought was a groin injury five days before Wisconsin's season opener against Alabama. He carried eight times for 16 yards against the Crimson Tide before exiting the game, and he underwent sports hernia surgery in Germany in late September. Though he was medically cleared to play the past two games, he opted to wait until he was mentally and physically ready to absorb in-game contact.
Saturday's game was never really close. Wisconsin scored 27 points by halftime, the most it had scored in any Big Ten game this season.
What the win means for Wisconsin: With Clement back in the fold, the Badgers have to feel much better about the immediate future of the running game. Wisconsin won't have a 1,000-yard rusher this year for the first time since 2004, but Clement is a top-level talent. Just watch some of his runs from Saturday on replay a few times to see why. Wisconsin (7-2, 4-1) has played well and could be on its way to one of the most underrated 10-2 seasons in recent memory -- a season in which the Badgers were never really in the race to win their division because of an early loss to Iowa. Still, Paul Chryst is putting together an impressive start to his head coaching tenure at Wisconsin.
What the loss means for Rutgers: Despite their putrid performance, the Scarlet Knights (3-5, 1-4) actually have a legitimate chance of reaching a bowl game. Rutgers is in the midst of a brutal stretch against Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan. Even if the Scarlet Knights lose next week to the Wolverines, they can still reach a bowl by winning their final three games against Nebraska, Army and Maryland. Those teams entered Saturday's games a combined 7-16 this season. If Rutgers can get receiver Leonte Carroo back from injury, it could be enough to push the team over the top in those final three games. He's that much of a game changer (see his nine receiving touchdowns).
Top play: Wisconsin safety Tanner McEvoy was the recipient of a fortuitous bounce that resulted in his second interception of the season. Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano threw a pass down the left sideline intended for running back Paul James that bounced off the helmet of Badgers linebacker Joe Schobert. The ball fell into McEvoy's arms before he ran out of bounds. McEvoy later ran for a 20-yard touchdown out of the team's wildcat formation to give Wisconsin a 48-10 lead.
Stat of the game: Laviano ranked third among Big Ten quarterbacks in pass efficiency before Saturday. But Wisconsin's defense made life miserable on him. He completed only 4 of 14 passes (28.6 percent) for 31 yards with no touchdowns and one interception with one lost fumble before being pulled from the game in the fourth quarter. Lavinao had been completing 67.2 percent of his passes while averaging 215 yards per game.