Down at the end of the first quarter, they crawled their way to a 10–7 lead at halftime behind the legs of sophomore running back Jonathan Taylor, who lost his second fumble in as many games during the second quarter.
In the second half, Wisconsin certainly pulled away with the help of an A.J. Taylor touchdown reception and another Jonathan Taylor rushing score to put the Badgers up 24–7 after three quarters. The rest was academic, as Wisconsin held New Mexico under 225 yards of total offense after the Lobos gained 87 on their initial drive of the day, their only scoring opportunity of the first half.
With Jonathan Taylor going for a career-high 253 yards and A.J. Taylor also reeling in a career-high 134 yards receiving, the Badgers fended off the Lobos for the victory.
Here’s what we learned:
The Badger defense is still insanely good in the red zone
New Mexico’s first of two threatening drives in the second half occurred following an interception thrown by Alex Hornibrook after he was hit as he threw. The Wisconsin defense was able to force a turnover, as redshirt freshman free safety Scott Nelson intercepted Sheriron Jones’s pass and returned it out of the end-zone area. Other teams have had major issues scoring touchdowns on Wisconsin when they inherit the ball deep in opposing territory.
It all starts in the front seven in these situations. Teams don’t feel that they can run against the Badgers in the condensed area which, in turn, also makes passing the ball more difficult.
A.J. Taylor continues to be opportunistic
With the suspensions of junior Quintez Cephus and sophomore Danny Davis, Taylor, the true junior from Kansas City, has taken full advantage of the opportunity of being the No. 1 receiving option for Wisconsin. After a five-reception, 85-yard effort against Western Kentucky, Taylor followed it up with a five-catch, 134-yard performance with a touchdown against New Mexico.
With Davis still slated to return next week against BYU, the more legitimate receiving options Wisconsin has to threaten opposing defenses, the more it will open things up for Jonathan Taylor.
Speaking of the star sophomore...
Jonathan Taylor’s fumbles are less than ideal
Now, this is something that we already knew, but it’s becoming apparent that the Heisman hopeful has a major issue. Saturday’s fumble was his 10th in 16 career games.
Now, this is not an end-all, be-all issue for Taylor. Adrian Peterson had fumbling issues throughout his historic career, but it came with the knowledge that he (Peterson, pronouns pal) was a transcendent player. Taylor has the potential to at one point be thought of in that same light, but it will certainly continue to be an area of focus for the sophomore out of Salem, N.J. Taylor finished with 33 carries for 253 yards and three touchdowns.