Jonathan Taylor

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No. 5 Wisconsin remains perfect after win against Maryland

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You can probably pencil in No. 5 Wisconsin (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) to be representing the Big Ten West Division in the Big Ten championship game if you have not already. After taking care of Maryland (3-4, 1-3 Big Ten) today in Madison, the Badgers are well on their way to Indianapolis for a second straight season with a 38-13 victory giving the Badgers a two-game cushion in the loss column. The chances anybody catches them are getting slimmer by the week. The question is quickly becoming whether or not Wisconsin will be 12-0 when they get to Indy.

Freshman sensation Jonathan Taylor continues to roll up the rushing yardage with another 100-yard afternoon (126 yards, 1 TD). Alex Hornibrook also passed for 225 yards and a pair of touchdowns to help the Badgers offense pull away. Wisconsin may have had a couple of turnovers in the first half that didn’t hurt them (Maryland managed just one short field goal after taking over at the Wisconsin five-yard line), but the Badgers were efficient on third downs (6-of-10). Maryland struggled on third downs against one of the top defense sin the Big Ten, which was to be expected, but Maryland did convert two fourth-down opportunities to keep drives alive.

Maryland just could not manage to play a clean enough game, could not take advantage of any opportunities presented to them by Wisconsin, or avoid costly penalties. In the end, Maryland was just outmatched against the heavy favorites in the West Division, and Maryland is once again sent home with a rough loss on the road against one of the Big Ten’s top programs.  Since joining the Big Ten, Maryland is 0-3 against the Badgers, and 0-2 in Madison.

Wisconsin has now won 13 consecutive regular season games dating back to last season (Wisconsin lost the Big Ten championship game against Penn State, which should be considered a postseason game.

Wisconsin will play their next two games in Big Ten play on the road. Next week the Badgers head to Illinois (2-4 coming into today) and then Wisconsin makes a trip to Indiana (entering today 3-3, but 0-3 in Big Ten play with losses to Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan). If Wisconsin avoids an upset on the road, then the fate of a potential undefeated regular season is put on the line with home games against Iowa and Michigan. The Badgers already have a two-game lead in the loss column in the Big Ten West Division and appear ready to make a return trip to Indianapolis. What the stakes will be beyond a Big Ten title remain to be seen, but the Badgers are not fading out of the College Football Playoff picture anytime soon.

For Maryland, the chance to become bowl eligible is becoming more of a challenge that may require the Terrapins to pull an upset at home against either Michigan or Penn State in November. Maryland still needs three wins and must win their next two in order to keep the dream alive before the final three games of the season against the Wolverines, at Michigan State, and home against the Nittany Lions. Maryland hosts Indiana next week and travels to Rutgers after that.

Wisconsin defense scores and bails out Badgers offense in first half vs. Maryland

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Wisconsin does not appear to be in much of any trouble this afternoon in Madison, Wisconsin against Maryland, but the Badgers took a while to start putting away the Terrapins. Wisconsin owns a 21-3 lead on the Terps at halftime, but the Wisconsin offense has had two turnovers so far. Maryland just has not been able to capitalize on those opportunities.

The Badgers defense put the first points on the scoreboard on the game’s opening possession. T.J. Edwards picked off a pass from Max Bortenschlager and returned it 54 yards for a score. It was the fourth pick-six of the season for the Badgers, moving them into a tie for the national lead with Duke.

Maryland failed to take advantage of a fumble by Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor that gave the Terrapins the football on the Wisconsin five-yard line. Unable to pick up any yardage, Maryland settled for a field goal to cut the lead to 7-3. The Badgers responded with a 10-play, 70-yard touchdown drive ending with Taylor making his way to the end zone on a three-yard run. Wisconsin added a late touchdown on a pass from Alex Hornibrook to Zander Neuville.

In the second half, Wisconsin will get the ball to start the third quarter and will look to start overpowering Maryland to get this game wrapped up with a “W.”

No. 9 Wisconsin runs over Nebraska to take control of Big Ten West race

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Just about everybody in the Big Ten could take one look at No. 9 Wisconsin’s schedule and see that their most difficult road game of the year would happen on October 7th at Nebraska. For a half at least, the Cornhuskers helped live up to that early billing on Saturday night.

But slowly and surely, the Badgers’ fearsome rushing attack plowed over their opponents to run away with the game 38-17 and secure the pole position in the Big Ten West race with little resistance.

All told Paul Chryst’s team wound up with 353 yards on the ground, most of which were racked up by budding superstar tailback Jonathan Taylor (249 and two scores to finish the game). While you thought early on there might be a time where Alex Hornibrook — 113 yards, one TD, one pick — might have to win a close game with his arm, that was not the case as he handed off time after time down the stretch and let his backs do the rest of the work behind that big offensive line.

Not everything went smoothly for the Badgers in the game however, as the defense allowed their first points in the third quarter all season. They did at least balance that out with a first quarter pick-six from linebacker Chris Orr that went 78 yards the other way to the end zone.

That interception return was a bit of tone-setter for the night for Cornhuskers’ QB Tanner Lee, who finished with 262 yards and a touchdown pass as well but failed to get things for an offense that never seemed to click outside of a handful of big plays. Running back Devine Ozigbo added another 112 yards on the ground but there was just not much there on either side of the ball outside of a fun few minutes going into and coming out of halftime for a disappointing Nebraska team.

On a day where two top 10 teams suffered upsets at the hands of unranked opponents, there were a few moments where it looked like Wisconsin might be in position to join them as the Cornhuskers were threatening and Big Red was making plenty of noise. Calmly and coolly however, the Badgers just pulled away and ground out yet another victory to stay perfect on the year. While the schedule remains tricky the rest of the way, they did pass their biggest road test and look more and more like a potential undefeated team heading into Indianapolis for the conference title game given how they ran the football and played defense on Saturday night in Lincoln.

Big plays keep No. 9 Wisconsin out front of Nebraska at halftime

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28 minutes into Wisconsin and Nebraska’s crucial game for Big 10 West superiority, the defenses were controlling and the offenses more prone to stalling.

Then the final two minutes of the first half rolled around and each side started to rack up big play after big play to make things much more interesting in Lincoln as the Badgers held onto a slim 17-10 lead at halftime.

Cornhuskers quarterback Tanner Lee was both hot and cold on the night, showing why exactly he is both the best option under center for the team (finding Stanley Morgan for an 80 yard touchdown) and worst (a pick six on the first drive) in not much time at all.

That pick-six  — Lee’s fourth of the year — was a huge momentum shifter early after a solid start for Mike Riley’s embattled team. Nebraska looked like they were going to really make things interesting on the Morgan touchdown with just 1:20 left on the clock but the defense failed to stop Wisconsin tailback Jonathan Taylor on the next series as he answered the score with one of his own from 75 yards out on the ground. A field goal with just one second left was eventually tacked on to cap a wild final two minutes that had the sellout crowd on their feet yelling at the same time they were wondering what was happening in front of them.

Badgers quarterback Alex Hornibrook had only a few clean pockets but threw for 62 yards on 6/11 passing after two quarters. Taylor led the way on the ground and was already up to 144 yards rushing despite having just 10 carries.

A lot of the attention in the conference may be focused on what’s happening in Ann Arbor right now but this Big Ten West battle is certainly extremely interesting after one half of play. If the Cornhuskers can make some defensive stands and the Badgers respond with big plays, we could get a fun one in front of Big Red.

Northwestern putting Wisconsin on upset alert with halftime lead

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Defense has been the story of the game so far as Northwestern is putting Wisconsin on upset alert at halftime. Cameron Green caught a short touchdown pass from Clayton Thorson to cap a 12-play scoring drive to take a 10-7 lead on the Badgers in Madison.

Wisconsin avoided a disaster right out of the gates thanks to the defense. After Alex Hornibrook completed a pass to Jazz Peavy for a loss of a yard, Peavy fumbled the football away to Northwestern to set the Wildcats right at the Wisconsin 24-yard line just seconds into the game. The Badgers stuffed a 3rd and 1 run by Justin Jackson for a loss of a yard to force Northwestern to settle for a field goal by Charlie Kuhbander.

The Badgers took a 7-3 lead later in the first quarter on a seven-yard touchdown run by Jonathan Taylor. It was the third-straight run by Taylor to finish the drive from the 15-yard line after starting the possession from the Northwestern 47-yard line.

The two teams traded interceptions on the next two offensive series and followed that up with back-to-back three-and-outs by the offenses. Northwestern’s late second-quarter touchdown drive of 12 plays was the first drive by either team to go more than seven plays in the first half.