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BYU snaps No. 6 Wisconsin’s home winning streak in non-conference play with 24-21 upset

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It has been a rough day of college football for a handful of Big Ten teams. None will suffer a loss as damaging as the one No. 6 Wisconsin (2-1) took at home against BYU (2-1). The Cougars pulled off an upset of Wisconsin, 24-21, that was essentially sealed in the final minute when Wisconsin kicker Rafael Gaglianone pushed his game-tying field goal attempt wide left.

The loss by Wisconsin was the first by the Badgers at home against a non-conference opponent since losing at home against UNLV on September 13, 2003. Wisconsin had won 41 consecutive home games against non-conference opponents.

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake chose to use two timeouts before Gaglianone’s late field goal try despite having 41 seconds remaining on the clock, potentially giving BYU’s offense chance to do something with the football in the event the game had been tied. But Sitake’s decision to play for no worse than overtime paid off in a big way.

BYU also did a good job of not letting Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor hurt them. Taylor rushed for 117 yards on 26 carries, but Taylor was held out of the end zone all day long and there was never a run that really hurt BYU. Wisconsin running backs Taiwan Deal and Alec Ingold did account for three rushing touchdowns.

It was BYU’s Squally Canada who led all players with 118 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Tanner Mangum completed just 12 of 22 pass attempts for 89 yards, and wide receiver Aleva Hifo threw the game’s only touchdown pass of the day with a 31-yard pass.

BYU’s special teams pinned Wisconsin inside their own 10-yard line for the final offensive possession by the Badgers in the fourth quarter, which seemed to play into BYU’

s favor with the game thrown into the hands of Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook. Hornibrook did use safe passes and a couple of runs to his advantage to move Wisconsin into position for the game-tying field goal try. But that was a tradeoff that BYU likely would have taken every time.

The loss by Wisconsin will drop the Badgers off the playoff radar for now, but Wisconsin will have opportunities to hop right back into the discussion as the season progresses. With the games still to play for Wisconsin, the Badgers have a chance to not stay off the radar for too long, but this loss does do some damage to their profile well ahead of the first release of the College Football Playoff rankings. Meanwhile, BYU should be getting some consideration for the top 25 in the polls on Sunday.

Wisconsin opens Big Ten play with their first road game of the season next week. The Badgers travel to Iowa City to play the Iowa Hawkeyes in primetime. BYU will return home next week for a matchup against FCS McNeese State.

CFT 2018 Preseason Previews: The Big Ten

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For the first time in the brief history of the College Football Playoff, the Big Ten found itself without a playoff representative last season. But in 2018, the conference appears to be stocked with teams worthy of being on the playoff radar as the season begins and there are a handful of programs in the early stages of turning things around and growing with fresh new leadership over the past couple of seasons. Whoever comes out on top of the Big Ten will certainly have earned it given the road any school will have to travel to Indianapolis for the Big Ten championship game, but will it end up being enough to justify waving the Big Ten flag in the College Football Playoff?

Ohio State has made the most trips to the playoff among Big Ten programs, including winning the inaugural College Football Playoff national championship, but the season begins with a dark cloud flying above Ohio Stadium with head coach Urban Meyer serving a three-game suspension. Fortunately, Ohio State should be in good position to weather the storm thanks to young offensive stars like J.K. Dobbins running the ball and Dwayne Haskins anointed as the starting quarterback. But it will be the defense, led by Nick Bosa and Dre’Mont Jones on the defensive line, that carries Ohio State early on, including a road trip to Arlington to play TCU. Ohio State’s playoff bubble could hinge on the September schedule with the TCU game and a road trip to Penn State at the end of September.

Penn State was maddeningly close to making the playoff last year, but losing two games by a combined four points in back-to-back weeks leaves the football program hungry for more. And with Ohio State and Michigan State each coming to Happy Valley early in Big Ten play, James Franklin‘s Nittany Lions have a chance to make some noise early on despite a significant amount of turnover on defense and key losses on the offense. Despite the changes, having the Big Ten’s top quarterback in Trace McSorley should allow for some smooth transition while the rest of the pieces come together. Miles Sanders will not be Saquon Barkley, but he may not have to be running the football. Penn State’s best offensive line depth in years should be noticeable and a home schedule that also brings Wisconsin to Beaver Stadium puts Penn State in position to make a playoff case of their own.

Elsewhere in a stacked East Division is, of course, Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. Harbaugh may have the Big Ten’s top defense with players like Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich on the ends of the line and Lavert Hill playing corner. and the hope is transfer quarterback Shea Patterson will be a dramatic improvement for the entire offense. An early trip to Notre Dame should be a good litmus test for what the Wolverines will do this season. Meanwhile, Michigan State will continue to chug along and be a factor in the East race with 19 starters back from last year’s team.

Wisconsin has become the easy pick in the West Division, and they are a popular pick once again this season as the most reliable program in the West. But they are not without some potential hurdles as well. A challenging road schedule (Iowa, Michigan, Northwestern, Penn State… Purdue?) and just three returning starters on defense to go with questionable quarterback consistency from Alex Hornibrook is a lot to counter-balance the expected strong running game led by a monster offensive line paving the way for sophomore running back Jonathan Taylor, a popular preseason Heisman Trophy favorite. The West is littered with programs in rebuilding modes like Minnesota, Purdue and now Nebraska with Scott Frost, but Northwestern is always ready to pull an upset or two and this could just be one of those years where Iowa makes a run.

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

BIG TEN EAST DIVISION

  1. Penn State
  2. Ohio State
  3. Michigan State
  4. Michigan
  5. Maryland
  6. Rutgers
  7. Indiana

BIG TEN WEST DIVISION

  1. Wisconsin
  2. Iowa
  3. Northwestern
  4. Minnesota
  5. Nebraska
  6. Purdue
  7. Illinois

IN SHORT:

No. 6 Wisconsin holds off No. 10 Miami in Orange Bowl; Big Ten goes 7-0 in bowls

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The Big Ten may not have landed a team in the College Football Playoff, but the conference continues to rack up the wins in the bowl season. No. 6 Wisconsin (13-1) improved their bowl game winning streak to four consecutive bowl wins with a 34-24 victory over No. 10 Miami in the Capital One Orange Bowl in Miami. The bowl win for the Badgers improved the Big Ten to a record of 7-0 this bowl season.

Wisconsin freshman running back Jonathan Taylor capped his record-setting freshman season with 130 rushing yards on 26 carries. Along the way, Taylor broke Adrian Petersen‘s all-time freshman rushing record. Though Taylor was kept out of the endzone, his ability to grind out yardage helped Wisconsin tire out the Miami defense and allowed the Badgers to get something going through the air. Alex Hornibrook passed for 258 yards and four touchdowns, with Danny Davis III catching three of those scores. The Badgers were lifted by a 21-point second quarter and were able to counter Miami in the second half to keep the ACC runners-up at arm’s length.

Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst improved to 4-1 in bowl games, including a 3-0 mark since his arrival in Madison. The Badgers have also improved their win total each of the past three seasons under Chryst’s watch. This win was much like any Wisconsin had this season, with total dominance in time of possession. Wisconsin held the ball for nearly two-thirds of the game with 24 first downs. Miami struggled to stay on the field, with just two third down conversions out of 10.

The season ends on a three-game losing streak for Miami, but this season proved Mark Richt has been able to turn a corner with the program. Playing in the ACC Championship Game for the first time since joining the ACC was a hurdle that had long been one that could not be cleared. Malik Rosier (who was picked off three times) returning for a senior season should allow Miami to keep the offense improving, and the continued recruiting efforts of Miami and player development under Richt should allow Miami to continue to be a team to watch in the ACC picture. Freshman running back DeeJay Dallas had a 39-yard touchdown run, showing some of the flashes he can offer as well.

Miami will head to Arlington, Texas for a season-opener clash with LSU in AT&T Stadium on Sunday, September 2, 2018. The Hurricanes will also host Florida State in cross-division play, as well as the only team to hand them a loss in the regular season, Pittsburgh.

Wisconsin begins the 2018 season at home on Friday, August 31, 2018 with a game against Western Kentucky. The Badgers also host BYU in non-conference play and open Big Ten play on the road against Iowa. The Badgers also draw a tough cross-division rotation on the road with games against Michigan in Ann Arbor and Penn State in State College.

Mark Richt grabs official and Wisconsin is up 24-14 on Miami in Orange Bowl

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Things started off well for the hometown Miami Hurricanes, but the first half of the Capital One Orange Bowl reached halftime with the Wisconsin Badgers establishing control of the game. The Badgers lead the Hurricanes after one half of play in Miami, 24-14.

It took just four plays for Miami’s trademark turnover chain to make an appearance when a  questionable instant replay ruled Wisconsin’s freshman running back Jonathan Taylor had fumbled. Replays showed his knee may have down, but officials felt the ball was coming out as Taylor went to the ground. Wisconsin survived the early Miami offensive opportunity when a Miami field goal sailed wide right. The Badgers responded with a field goal on the next possession, but Miami roared back with a touchdown when Travis Homer finished off a drive with a five-yard run for a score.

Afer a three-and-out by the Badgers defense, Miami kept the momentum going with DeeJay Dallas ripping off a 39-yard touchdown run to put the Hurricanes up 14-3. From there, it has been all Wisconsin. Alex Hornibrook completed a pass to Danny Davis III from 20 yards out shortly after the Badgers defense forced a turnover with an interception of Malik Rosier. Wisconsin’s defense continued to get off the field quickly with back-to-back three-and-outs, and Wisconsin took the lead on a Hornibrook pass to A.J. Taylor.

Wisconsin added another touchdown pass form Hornibrook to Davis III late in the half to create a 24-14 lead. That happened shortly after Miami head coach Mark Richt was flagged for contacting an official by the arm during a timeout. What sparked the rage is not quite clear, as Richt only said “If you watch the tape, you’ll see” when asked about the incident by ESPN sideline reporter Molly McGrath.

During the first half, Wisconsin’s Taylor set a new freshman rushing record for the most rushing yards in a season by a freshman, passing Adrian Peterson‘s record from 2004. None other than Wisconsin legend Ron Dayne offered his congratulations on Twitter.

No. 5 Wisconsin blanks Minnesota, 31-0, to complete 12-0 regular season

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No. 5 Wisconsin (12-0, 9-0 Big Ten) put the finishing touches on an undefeated regular season in blowout fashion, defeating Minnesota (5-7, 2-7 Big Ten) on the road by a score of 31-0. Say what you might about the level of competition Minnesota has faced this season, but the Badgers have done everything asked of them to be in the College Football Playoff discussion, and they may be one win shy of reaching the playoff for the first time in school history.

Wisconsin had a straightforward approach to beating Minnesota fueled by steady defense and a good running game. Jonathan Taylor rushed 20 times for 149 yards and a score in the big win to continue a dominant freshman season. Alex Hornibrook passed for 151 yards and three touchdowns for an efficient afternoon when needed.

All that stands in the way for the Badgers now is Ohio State and the selection committee. A win against the Buckeyes to string together a 13-0 record with a Big Ten championship capped by a win against a top 10 team feels like it should be enough on its own to be rewarded with inclusion in the College Football Playoff. And with the top two teams in the nation losing this weekend, it still remains a guessing game how the selection committee will evaluate the situation. Nothing should be considered a given, but if Wisconsin is the last undefeated power conference team standing at the end of the season, then that should be enough if the Badgers can pull it off.

Wisconsin will play Ohio State next week in the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis. Minnesota’s season is now done with a 5-7 record, bringing the first season under P.J. Fleck to a close. There were some positives at times, but the Gophers have plenty of rowing to do to take steps forward in the Big Ten West pecking order and to give Wisconsin a decent run.