Jonathan Taylor

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No. 5 Wisconsin muscles their way to 11-0 against No. 24 Michigan

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No. 5 Wisconsin (11-0, 8-0) moved one step closer to an undefeated regular season thanks to a strong second-half showing against No. 24 Michigan (8-3, 5-3 Big Ten). The Badgers struggled to get much of anything going on offense in the first half, but the plays seemed to come together in the second half en route to a 24-10 victory in Madison on Saturday afternoon. The Badgers scored 21-unanswered points to overcome a 10-7 deficit in the third quarter.

Michigan was on the wrong end of a controversial instant replay in the first half, but even if the correct call had been made in the review it would not have been enough to score the upset. The Badgers wore down Michigan in the second half and found some passing plays to use to their advantage off the arm of Alex Hornibrook. Hornibrook completed just nine passes out of 19 attempts with one going for a touchdown and another deep ball providing a spark along the way. The recipe for a win, of course, remained running the ball. Freshman sensation Jonathan Taylor ripped off 132 yards on 19 carries to power Wisconsin’s offense.

Michigan starting quarterback Brandon Peters was carted off in the third quarter with an apparent head injury. He did not return, and John O’Korn was tasked with taking over the offense for the remainder of the game. Had Peters not been injured, it may not have mattered. Wisconsin’s defense was still making plays when they needed and not allowing Michigan to seize control for extended periods of time.

The win keeps Wisconsin knocking on the door to the College Football Playoff. If the Badgers win their next two games, they will stand an excellent chance of getting to the playoff for the first time in school history. Wisconsin will wrap up the regular season on the road next week with the annual rivalry game with Minnesota. The Gophers were getting thumped by Northwestern and will need a long-overdue win against Wisconsin in order to become bowl-eligible. Wisconsin has not lost to Minnesota since 2003. After that, it will be a date in the Big Ten Championship Game against the champion of the East Division, which will more than likely be the team Michigan plays next week.

Michigan will be home in Ann Arbor for their rivalry game against Ohio State. The Buckeyes will need the win in order to remain on the playoff radar heading into the Big Ten championship game. Jim Harbaugh has not beaten Urban Meyer yet.

No. 8 Wisconsin punches ticket to Big Ten title game with dominant defensive performance vs. No. 20 Iowa

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Sometimes you just have knuckle down and win an ugly game. No. 8 Wisconsin (10-0, 7-0 Big Ten) did just that on Saturday against No. 20 Iowa (6-4, 3-4 Big Ten) by coming through for a gritty 38-14 victory on the strength of its defense. The only points scored by Iowa came from cornerback Joshua Jackson, and Wisconsin held Iowa to just 56 yards of offense. The win for Wisconsin clinched a return trip to the Big Ten championship game.

Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook was picked off twice by Jackson, and each time the interception was returned for a touchdown. It was the only way Iowa would manage to score in this one as the offense never got anything going against a stingy Wisconsin defense. Iowa forced two additional Wisconsin turnovers but Iowa could not take advantage of the opportunities unless Jackson was the one getting his hands on the football on defense. Wisconsin’s defense even got in on the scoring with a fumble return for a touchdown by Leon Jacobs. Another Iowa turnover also led to a Wisconsin score in the fourth quarter as the Badgers continued to pad their lead. Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor continued to show why he is the Big Ten’s leading rusher with 158 yards on the ground.

A week after lighting up the Buckeyes, Iowa quarterback Nathan Stanley completed just eight of his 23 pass attempts for 41 yards.

Here’s the thing with Wisconsin. They’re a pretty darn good team. They tend to be well coached by Paul Chryst. They don’t do many things in a sexy fashion, but they haven’t had to either. The schedule is what the schedule is, and it is fair to analyze that when comparing what Wisconsin has accomplished against what other playoff contenders have accomplished so far. And it is still fair to suggest other teams have a more impressive overall body of work too, conceding that an undefeated season does not necessarily have to mean you have been more impressive thana one-loss team or even, perhaps, a two-loss team.

But Wisconsin is doing exactly what it needs to do to achieve its first goal, which is winning the Big Ten. If the Badgers get to 12-0 with a shot at the Big Ten championship, they will absolutely be worthy of playoff consideration entering the conference title game. Anyone who argues against that is just being dismissive. This Wisconsin team is good. They might even be able to score a point in the College Football Playoff should they be fortunate enough to make it that far. For now, Chryst and Wisconsin will just focus on taking care of what they can and then letting the playoff committee do their job to determine if they are worthy or not at the end of the season.

For Wisconsin, it is on to next week to work on getting to 11-0. To do that, they will have to win one more game at home. Wisconsin will host Michigan next week in the home finale for the Badgers. The Wolverines could be tricky after seemingly discovered how to play some offense the last couple of weeks.

Iowa will return home for their home finale as well. The Hawkeyes host Purdue next week.

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.

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.

Jonathan Taylor not enrolled at Alabama, making reinstatement impossible (probably, at least for now)

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Well this should make things pretty easy to figure out. Jonathan Taylor‘s chances of being reinstated by Alabama’s football program will no longer be possible, as he is no longer enrolled at the campus.

The defensive lineman was dismissed from the football program earlier this week following an arrest and charge from a domestic violence incident. Those charges were later set to be reconsidered by authorities after the accuser recanted her original story, landing her in jail for providing misinformation to police. With the charges being reconsidered, an attorney representing Taylor was hopeful Nick Saban and Alabama would reconsider Taylor’s status with the Crimson Tide. However, if he is no longer enrolled on campus then he is ineligible for reinstatement.

Per Al.com, even though Alabama officials have not confirmed or clarified Taylor’s lack of enrollment as a result of an official expulsion, the university code for reinstatement is supposed to follow the guidelines put in place for expelled students.

From the university code of conduct outlines (helmet sticker to Al.com);

University Expulsion: Separation of the student from the University permanently or on an indefinite basis. A student permanently expelled is prohibited from reapplying to the University in the future or from earning a degree from any of its colleges or schools. Readmission of a student expelled on an indefinite basis may not occur within five years and shall require the recommendation of the Vice President for Student Affairs and approval of the Provost. If a disciplinary action results in the Judicial Administrator determining that expulsion is the appropriate sanction, then the Vice President for Student Affairs shall review the sanction and shall make the final decision to expel after consultation with the President of the University. Because a decision to expel a student is made after consultation with the President, a student has no right to request a review of the sanction of expulsion.

Taylor may end up not facing any charges for the previous incident, and if that is the case then he might have a solid case to consider taking to court against Alabama if needed. Saban welcomed Taylor to Alabama to embrace a second chance after being dismissed by Georgia following a domestic violence incident, and Alabama acted quickly in distancing itself from Taylor. But if authorities show Taylor was not guilty of any crimes, then he would be within his right to take Alabama to task. Or, if cleared of charges, maybe somebody at Alabama will simply shred any documentation tied to Taylor’s status and pretend it never happened anyway.

However this turns out, it is a bit of a mess.