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Rutgers football falls to Wisconsin 52-3

Senior wide receiver Bo Melton and the rest of the Rutgers football team had one of their longest Saturdays in recent memory, getting blown out by Wisconsin 52-3.  – Photo by Samantha Cheng

The Rutgers football team was defeated by Wisconsin 52-3 on Saturday afternoon for its fifth loss this season.

Saturday’s game was Military Appreciation Day at SHI Stadium. As part of the festivities, a pregame flyover was conducted to conclude the national anthem.

While the Scarlet Knights (4-5, 1-5) kept the game close in the first quarter, the No. 20 Badgers (6-3, 4-2) blew the game open in the second quarter, outscoring Rutgers 24-0 to take a 31-3 lead into halftime.

The second half, in particular the third quarter, was more of the same as Wisconsin out-scored the Knights by a further 21 points in the period. When it was all said and done, the Badgers had scored 45 unanswered points after leading 7-3 to end the first quarter.

“When you get (beaten) like that, it’s an accumulation of things. It’s never just one thing,” said head football coach Greg Schiano after the game. “(Wisconsin’s) a good football team.”

Rutgers ended the game with a season-high four turnovers and a season-high three interceptions against a Wisconsin defense that ranks as the best defense in the country. In addition, for the first time this season, senior quarterback Noah Vedral failed to compile more than 100 yards passing.

With 61 yards, senior wide receiver Bo Melton led the Knights in receiving while junior running back Isaih Pacheco led in rushing with 55 yards. On defense, senior linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi finished as the team's leading tackler. With 10 tackles, Fatukasi officially became the 12th player in Rutgers history to reach 300 career tackles.

Junior defensive back Avery Young followed behind Fatukasi in tackles and provided one interception, the Knights’ only takeaway of the game.

Rutgers suffered several injuries over the course of the game. In the second quarter, junior wide receiver Aron Cruickshank was injured on a kick return and did not return to the game. Vedral and Fatukasi were also helped by the training staff and did not return to the game.

“Not sure yet, but they obviously couldn’t continue in the game so it’s bad enough that that’s the case,” Schiano said when asked about the status of Vedral and Cruickshank. “(Vedral and Cruickshank) are both tough guys so if they (could’ve played), they would’ve. So we’ll just play it by ear.”

As for the Badgers, Graham Mertz tied his season-high in passing yards and had a season-high three touchdown passes. Wisconsin also rushed for more than 300 yards for the third time this season while limiting the Knights to less than 100 yards rushing.

Rutgers will travel to take on Indiana next week. After this weekend, the program has only three games remaining left in the regular season. With two more wins, the Knights can clinch a trip to a bowl game for the first time since 2014.

“We won a really big game last week — for us — right, I mean on the national scope it wasn’t. When we came back, we didn’t play with the same ... focus,” Schiano said. “That’s a lesson learned again. Those are all lessons learned.”

For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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