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.