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No. 13 Wisconsin survives rally from No. 18 Iowa to keep slim Big Ten West hopes alive

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No. 13 Wisconsin’s dreams of another division title aren’t quite dead yet.

The Badgers may still need some help on that front with Minnesota remaining undefeated but at least Paul Chryst’s survived a late surge by No. 18 Iowa to secure the Heartland Trophy 24-22 and remain in the hunt for the Big Ten West.

Leading the way was none other than Jonathan Taylor as the tailback wound up rushing for 250 yards on 31 attempts to help UW win their fourth straight over the Hawkeyes. It was the 10th time topping two bills in his career, an impressive mark made better by the fact that he did so on a day where the program honored the 20 year anniversary of Ron Dayne winning the Heisman Trophy.

His efforts on the ground allowed Jack Coan to take advantage of things through the air, throwing for only 173 yards with an interception but also tossing two touchdowns. Danny Davis caught one of those scores (Quintez Cephus had the other) and had another trip to the end zone off a jet sweep.

Wisconsin’s defense had a pretty good night of their own in holding Iowa under 100 yards in the first half and generally keeping them held down most of the afternoon. But eventually Kirk Ferentz’ squad got back into things with a 16 point fourth quarter rally that nearly saw them tie things up after Tyrone Tracy needed just one step to race 75 yards for a touchdown that brought them within two. However QB Nate Stanley (208 yards, 2 TDs) was stopped right at the goal line on the two point conversion in what proved to be the game-saving play.

As a result, Wisconsin can still hold out slim hopes of winning the Big Ten West if they win out and hope the Gophers row themselves to another loss at some point. That might be tough to count on but their best hope could come when Minnesota travels to face this very Iowa squad that nearly pulled off the road upset.

While the division was written off by most earlier this season, the teams involved in the chase for a trip to Indianapolis sure seem to have no issue putting together some interesting games and making things interesting as fall turns to winter in the Midwest.

No. 13 Wisconsin leads slugfest against No. 18 Iowa at halftime

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Anytime No. 13 Wisconsin and No. 18 Iowa get together in a Big Ten West battle, you can count on some tough defense, plenty of running the football and pretty much the definition of a slugfest between the two Heartland rivals. Such was the case again on Saturday afternoon in Madison as the Badgers took a 14-6 lead into the halftime as each side tries to keep up with Minnesota in the division race.

Jonathan Taylor led the way for the home side once again, posting 107 yards on the ground as he averaged over six yards a touch. That certainly helped open things up in the middle of the field for QB Jack Coan, who finished the half 10-of-15 passing for 74 yards and nifty touchdown pass of play action with just seconds left in the second quarter. Wideout Danny Davis had a breakout game, making it across the goal line off a jet sweep touchdown run and catching the other score for UW.

Iowa had just 93 yards of total offense and was 0-3 on third down against that stout defense on the other sideline. Nate Stanley completed just three passes for 27 yards while Toren Young was the lone bright spot for the Hawkeyes’ offense with 45 yards rushing. Star pass rusher A.J. Epenesa did force a fumble inside the 20 early in the game but the Hawkeyes couldn’t convert it into a touchdown and instead settled for one of their two field goals.

It goes without saying that this is a massive meeting with larger implications, given that both teams are ranked and still have an outside shot of catching the Gophers for the division crown. It seems doubtful this turns into a shootout in the second half the way things are trending but the close and hard-fought nature of this series could make it interesting down the stretch.

LOOK: Bevo wants no part of pre-Sugar Bowl photo op with Uga

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No. 5 Georgia and No. 15 Texas are set to meet in the Allstate Sugar Bowl in 45 minutes, as of this writing. Both tradition-rich schools brought their animal mascots with them to New Orleans for the game, a living example of everything that’s right with the bowl system when everything lines up correctly.

The powers that be from both schools tried to get Georgia’s bulldog Uga and Texas’ steer Bevo together for a pre-game photo op, but the thing about animals is that they have minds of their own.

This video from the Austin American-Statesman‘s Danny Davis shows Bevo trying to give Uga the business end of his own long horns.

Here’s another angle shot by ESPN cameras, courtesy SB Nation’s Wescott Eberts.

Here’s a skycam view from SB Nation’s Richard Johnson.

You can turn the sound on in this clip to hear ESPN’s Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit provide play-by-play and analysis from their Rose Bowl broadcast.

Finally, a view from the rafters, complete with commentary from an off-screen Texas fan.

Thankfully, no humans, bovines or canines were injured in the scuffle.

Texas enters the game as a decided underdog, so perhaps their mascot’s fury will serve as a metaphor for the Longhorns’ performance tonight. On the flip side, maybe Georgia’s Bulldogs will mount up to defend their namesake’s honor. Or perhaps maybe it’s just a meeting of animals that went wrong, because cows and dogs weren’t meant to mingle on the artificial turf of a domed stadium surrounded by the flashing lights of cameras and the altercation will have no impact on the game.

Suspended WR Quintez Cephus sues Wisconsin for violating constitutional rights

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There’s been yet another development in a situation involving one of Wisconsin’s top returning wide receivers.

According to madison.com, Quintez Cephus has sued the University of Wisconsin-Madison in U.S. District Court, claiming that the school violated his constitutional rights.  That claim arises from a Title IX investigation that was conducted despite Cephus’ “inability to participate in an interview or otherwise meaningfully participate in the university’s process,” the lawsuit states, due to his involvement in an ongoing criminal investigation.

Two days after very loudly proclaiming his innocence and announcing he was taking a leave of absence, Cephus was charged in late August with felony sexual assault of an intoxicated victim and felony sexual assault.  The criminal complaint filed against him states that he allegedly “sexually assaulted two drunken women at once in the bedroom of his apartment in April.” The day after his arrest, Cephus’ lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the charges, claiming in part that surveillance camera footage and text messages paint an entirely different picture of the events that night.

In mid-September, Dane County (Wis.) Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky denied the defense team’s motion following a two-hour hearing, ordering Cephus to stand trial on the sexual assault charges.

“Defendants have knowingly and intentionally forced (Cephus) into the predicament of having to either waive his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination by choosing to participate in the university process despite the potential harm to his criminal defense,” the lawsuit states, “or decline to participate in the university’s process thus leading to the inevitable finding of responsibility and severe sanctions.”

Among other things, the lawsuit is calling for a halt to disciplinary proceedings until Cephus’ criminal case is resolved.  The findings of those proceedings could result in Cephus’ expulsion from the school.

Additionally, the website wrote, “[t]he lawsuit seeks unspecified money for emotional and psychological damage, damage to Cephus’ reputation and future career prospects, and past and future economic losses, among other damages.”

In a statement, a UW-M spokesperson told the site that “[w]e have not yet reviewed this lawsuit. However, we are confident that our processes related to these types of investigations comply with federal law.”

Cephus led the Badgers in receiving touchdowns last season with six and yards per catch at 16.7. His 501 receiving yards were good for second, while his 30 receptions were third on the team.  Cephus and Danny Davis were UW’s starting receivers heading into summer camp.  Davis was named in the criminal complaint filed against Cephus and suspended for the first two games of the 2018 season.

Late TD pushes No. 18 Wisconsin past upset-minded Iowa

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Iowa has a proud history of knocking off ranked teams in night games at Kinnick Stadium, and No. 18 Wisconsin’s visit on Saturday had a chance to be another, but a number of crucial mistakes and clutch plays by the Badgers allowed the visitors to escape with a 28-17 win.

In a game without many scoring opportunities, Iowa’s list of mistakes started when Kirk Ferentz made a very un-Ferentz like decision and it immediately came back to bite him.

After forcing a Wisconsin punt to open the game, Iowa marched from its own 15 to the Wisconsin 12 when Nate Stanley hit running back Ivory Kelly-Martin for a 7-yard completion on 3rd-and-8, taking the ball to the Badgers’ 5, setting up a 4th-and-1. The Iowa offense hurried to the line, but a pair of false starts by Iowa’s guards were wiped out when the replay official stopped play to review the spot. Given the chance to think it over, Ferentz chose to go for it again, and Stanley’s sneak was stuffed.

Wisconsin immediately took advantage, moving 95 yards in 11 plays, scoring on a 6-yard Alex Hornibrook pass to Jake Ferguson at the 14:31 mark of the second quarter.

The teams traded punts on their next possessions and Iowa seemed primed to punt again when Stanley loaded up to throw on a 3rd-and-9 from his own 34, but his rainbow found T.J. Hockenson for a 46-yard gain, which he hauled in despite defensive pass interference on the play. Stanley put Iowa on the board with a 20-yard scoring strike to Noah Fant on the next play, evening the game at the 5:15 mark of the first half.

Iowa forced another Wisconsin punt on the ensuing possession, but the Hawkeyes’ momentum was wiped out when Kyle Groeneweg‘s 23-yard punt return to midfield ended in a fumble forced and recovered by Wisconsin’s D’Cota Dixon.

Still, Iowa’s defense forced another punt, and the Hawkeyes expired the final minute to send the game to the half.

Iowa accepted the ball to open the second half and notched a 24-yard Miguel Recinos field goal to take its first lead of the game and forced another Wisconsin punt, but another special teams disaster cost the Hawkeyes a chance to take control of the game. As Anthony Lotti‘s punt spun to a stop on the Kinnick Stadium turf, an unaware Shaun Breyer touched the ball with his foot at his own 10-yard line, and Wisconsin’s Travian Blaylock hopped on the loose ball.

Three plays later, Hornibrook hit Danny Davis III to put Wisconsin back on top, 14-10.

Iowa answered immediately, moving 75 yards in eight plays and scoring on a 1-yard toss from Stanley to Fant at the 1:37 mark of the third quarter.

The score remained at 17-14 when Wisconsin took over at its own 12 with 5:40 remaining, and the Badgers consumed 4:43 of the available clock, taking a 21-17 lead on a 17-yard pass to A.J. Taylor with 57 seconds to play.

Needing a touchdown to win the game, Iowa (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten) took over at its own 24, but Stanley was intercepted by T.J. Edwards, and Alec Ingold scored the capper on a 33-yard rush with 22 ticks to play.

Hornibrook was the star of the game, hitting 17-of-22 passes for 205 yards with three touchdowns and no picks, while Jonathan Taylor rushed 25 times for 113 yards.

Wisconsin (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) successfully bounced back from last week’s loss to BYU and won in Iowa City for the fifth straight time. Overall, Wisconsin has won six of the past seven Heartland Trophy meetings, and the winner of the Heartland Trophy game has gone on to win the Big Ten West in each of the past four seasons.