Jonathan Taylor: Was there any doubt? 249 yards on 25 carries and two touchdowns, along with a 75-yard score to stifle the momentum of Nebraska when the Huskers cut Wisconsin’s lead to three points late in the second quarter.
Behind an injured but up-to-the-task offensive line, Taylor’s performance was phenomenal. The true freshman’s skill set, accolades, and early place in history were already called out in our “3 things” post. This, inside a historic stadium with an emotional crowd honoring the 1997 national championship team.
Expect the Big Ten Conference to honor him as its offensive player of the week and freshman of the week.
The entire offensive line: Wisconsin’s offense looked more like Nebraska’s glory days than its current team. Michael Deiter and the entire line deserves kudos for wearing down the Huskers’ front seven and imposing their will in the trenches.
With Jon Dietzen and Micah Kapoi injured, redshirt sophomore Jason Erdmann helped fill in admirably at left guard at times and helped the offense generate 353 rushing yards against a Huskers’ defense that had appeared to make strides in recent weeks.
NEB-UW postscript. Obvious: Rushed for 353, incl 22 str. runs. Short of 28 str. for 357 at Michigan ('10). Not So Obvious: With Kapoi banged up, Deiter repped at LG/Van Lanen at LT if Dietzen couldn't finish. Also got reps for Erdmann who did finish at LG. Flexibility invaluable— Mike Lucas (@LucasAtLarge) October 8, 2017
#OnWisconsin #Oline pic.twitter.com/1CRBbhfqwE— Al Johnson (@Coach_AlJohnson) October 8, 2017
Nick Nelson: The Hawaii transfer recorded four tackles, but more importantly three pass break-ups against a talented Nebraska receiving corp. He has seven through five games, including five in the last two contests.
If Nelson continues his early success, he should earn all-conference honors at the very least.
Rachid Ibrahim: Give kudos to the Pitt transfer not named Chris James, as Ibrahim rushed for 51 yards on seven carries. With all the depth at running back, he made his touches count, including a 24-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Honorable mention: D’Cota Dixon (nine tackles)
Play of the Game
1a. Chris Orr’s interception return for a touchdown: Nebraska had all the momentum with two first downs deep in Wisconsin territory on the first drive of the game—not the way Wisconsin wanted to set the tone on defense. On a key third down at the UW 17-yard line, Lee’s pass hit off the head of running back Devine Ozigbo, allowing Orr to snatch the pass out of the air and return it 78 yards for six points.
If Nebraska scores a touchdown on that drive, it changes the entire story of the game. You could hear and see the momentum completely deflate inside Memorial Stadium after that pick-six.
1b. Taylor’s 75-yard run: Again, a momentum-shifter when Wisconsin needed it the most. After Stanley Morgan, Jr.’s 80-yard touchdown reception, Taylor cut between center Tyler Biadasz and right guard Beau Benzschawel, then utilized his speed and strength to elude arm tackles and out-run defenders to make it a 17–7 contest late in the second quarter.
- Wisconsin’s captains for the game were senior tight end Troy Fumagalli, defensive end Alec James, wide receiver Jazz Peavy, and safety Natrell Jamerson.
- The Badgers’ 5–0 start is their first since 2011, when they started 6–0.
- The defense set a season high in passes defended with eight (Orr’s interception and seven break-ups).
- Wisconsin still has not lost the turnover battle against Nebraska since the Huskers have joined the Big Ten Conference.
- Dominating the Big Ten West: The Badgers are now 17–3 (.850) against the division since the current conference alignment was set in 2014.
- Orr’s pick-six was actually his first career interception.
- Wisconsin’s defense now has three interception returns that have gone for touchdowns this season (Joe Ferguson, Jamerson, and Orr). That mark matches the most for the program in the last 20 seasons, which was also seen in 1999 and 2010.
- Kicker Rafael Gaglianone is 15-for-17 on his field-goal attempts going back to the 2015 Holiday Bowl.