Saturday afternoon in Bloomington, Ind., the Badgers pulled away from a game Hoosier squad late in the third quarter and throughout the fourth to eventually win 45–17.
However, what can’t be lost in this game—which wasn’t always the most exciting to watch—is the attrition suffered by Wisconsin. Starting inside linebacker Chris Orr and emerging star wide receiver Quintez Cephus both left with leg injuries that appeared to be serious. Starting safety D’Cota Dixon also left the game after missing last week vs Illinois. The Badgers will need all of their talent over these next three weeks to try to remain unbeaten.
But for right now? They’re 9–0. And that’s dope as hell.
Here’s what we learned:
1. Jonathan Taylor is the engine for this Badgers’ offense.
After missing the second half of the game last week against Illinois, Jonathan Taylor returned to form against the Hoosiers, with his first carry going for 45 yards. Taylor would end up with over 180 yards on the ground and controlled the tempo of the game. He’ll look to continue to get healthy as the Badgers head into a showdown with the always stout front seven of the Iowa Hawkeyes.
2. Wisconsin’s depth on defense is beginning to show.
A Badgers defense that started the regular season without its best player, Jack Cichy, has continued to look strong in spite of the attrition it’s dealt with. The defense took more shots today, losing Orr to what looked like a significant injury as well as Dixon. No problem, as Joe Ferguson came in and had two interceptions, making it three in the past three weeks. The backup safety has forced six turnovers this season. The depth at linebacker has been well-documented, and they’ll need to continue the “next man up” mentality as they head into the meat of their schedule.
3. Alex Hornibrook is good enough
Alex Hornibrook—who I think it’s important to remember that he’s still only a sophomore—will make enough plays for Wisconsin to win games. He won’t be the sole reason they win, as some teams rely on their quarterbacks to be, but he is plenty capable of doing what this offense needs him to do. Another week with an interception isn’t ideal, but he will continue to grow with this offense. Hornibrook bounced back nicely from the pick with a touchdown pass to Cephus and Alec Ingold.
Wisconsin still hasn’t played four straight quarters of dominant football, but if that’s the case and Wisconsin is still 9–0, life is pretty good, Badger fans.