The future NFL talent on the Alabama defensive front met Wisconsin's vaunted rushing attack Saturday, and the outcome will be exhibit one for the likes of Reggie Ragland and Jarran Reed when NFL scouts evaluate their ability to stop the run.
Badgers running back Corey Clement, who replaced San Diego Chargers first-round draft pick Melvin Gordon in the Wisconsin backfield, was stuffed for 16 yards on eight carries as Alabama won 35-17. Clement exited with a groin pull, according to the ABC broadcast, but his backups didn't fare well, either. Wisconsin finished with just 40 rushing yards on 21 carries. After the game, Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst acknowledged that Clement's groin issue surfaced during the week before the game.
Reed and Ragland are seniors that both received second-round grades from the NFL Draft Advisory Board last year when considering whether to turn pro as underclassmen. They returned to anchor what could be the nation's top defense. Ragland made a team-high 12 tackles and took on Wisconsin blockers aggressively in the hole rather than allowing them to reach the second level. Reed finished with five stops and controlled his gaps effectively all night.
NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein rated Ragland as the No. 4 linebacker in the college game entering the season, and Reed has been ranked one of the top 50 senior prospects for the 2016 draft. They're joined by several highly regarded juniors, including A'Shawn Robinson, the No. 6 interior defensive lineman in the country, and Jonathan Allen, who recorded two sacks on Saturday.