Another tough road environment, another disappointing road loss for the Wisconsin Badgers as they fell to Penn State 22–10 at Beaver Stadium in University Park on Saturday afternoon.
UW (6–4, 4–3 Big Ten) became one-dimensional once again on offense, gaining only 269 yards on offense—209 of which came running the ball. Sophomore running back Jonathan Taylor, perhaps the lone bright spot on that unit for the day, ran for 185 yards on 20 carries with a 71-yard touchdown.
Four turnovers plagued the Wisconsin offense, with two coming from interceptions off the arm of quarterback Jack Coan, and the unit only converted 4-of-15 on third down.
Coan finished 9-of-20 for 60 yards, with Penn State sacking the sophomore signal caller five times. He also fumbled twice as well.
Wisconsin’s defense gave up 343 yards total (160 passing, 183 rushing) to Penn State (6–4, 4–3), but running back Miles Sanders gained 159 yards on 23 carries with a touchdown. Quarterback Trace McSorley threw for 160 yards on 19-of-25 passing with a touchdown.
Inside linebacker T.J. Edwards led the team in tackles (14), while fellow inside ‘backer Ryan Connelly registered 10 tackles, two tackles for loss, with one sack and quarterback hurry each.
Redshirt junior outside linebacker Zack Baun tallied nine tackles, three for loss, along with 1.5 sacks and a fumble recovery.
Wisconsin struck first in the game on their biggest play of the day to take an early lead. On a third down, Taylor took a Coan handoff and went 71 yards for a touchdown.
Penn State responded on the next drive, however, going 75 yards in eight plays. McSorley found DeAndre Thompkins for a 14-yard touchdown pass that tied the game up at 7–7.
Wisconsin’s next drive showed promise, with Taylor busting through for a 27-yard gain to start the series as UW pushed past midfield. A fumble exchange on a snap cost the Badgers possession, with PSU recovering thereafter.
McSorley and company drove down the field once again, but Wisconsin held with the help of a holding call against the PSU offense. Jake Pinegar’s 49-yard field goal made it a 10–7 game.
The streak of unanswered points by Penn State hit 16, as the offense pushed down the field once again. Sanders carried the ball four times for 43 yards on the drive, with him leaping over the line for a one-yard score to cap the drive. Pinegar’s extra point was pushed to the right, keeping the Nittany Lions lead at 16–7.
Despite a late second-half interception thrown by Coan, Wisconsin held as Isaiahh Loudermilk blocked a Pinegar field goal to keep it that score at halftime.
To start the second half, Wisconsin’s offense regained some rhythm and closed the gap, going 65 yards in 10 plays. Unfortunately. Coan could not hit A.J. Taylor on a 3rd-and-7 from the PSU 10. Rafael Gaglianone’s 28-yard field goal brought the game back within one score at 16–10.
Again, Penn State answered. Aided by a successful fake punt attempt and a costly 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty against Baun on the same play, the Nittany Lions connected on another scoring opportunity. Pinegar converted on another field goal, this time from 42 yards out, to make it 19–10.
Wisconsin’s next two possessions were three-and-outs. The latter one was laced with three penalties that suffocated any potential momentum after Pinegar missed a 45-yard field goal attempt the Penn State series prior.
With 7:23 remaining in the game, PSU would tack on a 23-yard field goal from Pinegar to cap the scoring at 22–10.
Wisconsin could not muster any points in the final quarter despite the seemingly close score, as the final two drives stalled out.
With about 6:35 left in the game, UW drove 46 yards in 11 plays and used nearly four minutes of time on the clock. On a 4th-and-5 from the PSU 39, Coan overthrew Danny Davis to force the turnover on downs.
Even with a gift-wrapped fumble that Baun recovered in Penn State territory with 1:44 left in the game, Wisconsin came up empty after a Nick Scott interception sealed the game.
Wisconsin must regroup to take on Big Ten West divisional foe Purdue next Saturday.