MADISON, WIS. - The No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers (6-0 overall, 3-0 B1G) shutout Michigan State (4-3, 2-2) 38-0 at Camp Randall stadium Saturday afternoon.
For the first time during the 2019 season, Wisconsin did not score on its opening drive. However, it quickly remedied that by scoring on its second drive of the game after forcing a three and out by the Spartans.
Wisconsin’s first touchdown was scored by none other than Jonathan Taylor, who has now scored Wisconsin’s opening points in all six games this season.
Taylor’s score came after a Jake Ferguson reception that looked all but destined for six, but Ferguson lost his footing and was ruled down on the one-yard-line, following a 27-yard reception on fourth-and-two.
Wisconsin was 2-for-2 on fourth down conversions on the day and is now 8-8 during the 2019 season.
Taylor would finish the game with 80 yards on 26 carriers and two touchdown, pushing his season total to 18 touchdowns. This was only the sixth time in Taylor’s career (33 games) that he has fallen short of 100 rushing yards in a game.
Taylor also added three receptions for 22 yards.
With his 80 rushing yards, Taylor fell just four yards short of joining Herschel Walker (5,596), Ron Dayne (5,091) and LaMichael James (5,082), as the only players in NCAA history to have rushed for 5,000 yards through their junior season.
“They just told me about that when I was coming in, but we were already up big,” said Taylor. “That just gives me something to shoot for next week.”
Wisconsin’s defense also continued its impressive play on the season, holding Michigan State to 149 total yards en route to its fourth shutout of the season. This is the first time since 1930 (5 shutouts) that a Wisconsin team has had four or more shutouts in a single season.
The school record for shutouts in a single season was set in 1901 when the Badgers recorded eight.
Wisconsin also forced nine punts, recorded two sacks, had two takeaways and held the Spartans to 2-for-14 on third down.
Quarterback Jack Coan was the main story offensively for the Badgers, going 18-of-21 for 180 yards and a touchdown.
Coan connected on his only touchdown pass of the game, finding Quintez Cephus, who hauled in the pass after bobbling it on the way to the ground.
Like his first touchdown, Taylor’s second score of the game came after Ferguson’s 21-yard reception on third and eight took Wisconsin down to the 1-yard-line.
Ferguson paced all Wisconsin receivers with four receptions and 62 yards.
Wisconsin’s only touchdown drive of the day that did not last at least eight plays came in the fourth quarter when Kendric Pryor took a jet sweep 66 yards for the score on the first play of the drive.
Wisconsin’s scoring drives averaged 9.8 plays, 72 yards and ranged from 12 seconds to eight minutes 46 seconds.
This allowed Wisconsin to win the time of possession battle 39:10 – 20:50.
The Wisconsin defense also added its fourth defensive touchdown on the season when Zack Baun intercepted a Brian Lewerke pass and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown. With that score, the Wisconsin defense has now scored as many touchdowns on the season as it has allowed.
Baun’s touchdown also pushed the Wisconsin defense ahead of its counterparts, as they have now outscored opposing offenses 30-29 through six games this season (4 TD, 1 safety).
Overall, Wisconsin is outscoring the opposition 231-29 which gives the Badgers the best scoring defense in the country, allowing 4.83 points per game.
However, Wisconsin’s shutout was nearly taken away as Michigan State drove down the field in the final minutes of the game.
Backup Spartan quarterback Rocky Lombardi lead MSU down to the Wisconsin 20-yard-line. On second and 10, Lombardi dropped back to pass and looked down the middle and found an open receiver just short of the goal line. The pass was too high to handle and was tipped right into the hands of Rachad Wildgoose who returned the ball out to the 12-yard line, thus securing the shutout for Wisconsin.
This was Wildgoose’s first career interception.
Wisconsin will play its second road game of the season next week after playing five-straight home games over a six-week period when it visits Illinois (2-4, 0-3).
“We travel on Friday,” said Baun. “That’s about all that changes, preparation is the same, we’ll still have practice every day in the week and practices will be the same, we just play in a different stadium.”