With the regular season in the rearview, the Wisconsin Badgers (10-3 overall, 7-2 B1G) football team now have their sights set on the Rose Bowl against the Oregon Ducks (11-2 overall, 8-1 Pac-12) on the first of January.
While B5Q will no doubt preview and breakdown the upcoming matchup with the Ducks, this week let’s look back at the top plays in each of the three phases of the game.
Today we dive into the final facet of the game, the offense. Here are the top 10 plays on the season based on impact and impressiveness from the offense.
While this catch doesn’t make huge waves in terms of impact on the season, it was possibly the most impressive catch of the year. Not normally thought of as a key pass catching threat, Mason Stokke made an amazing diving catch on a missed throw by Jack Coan. The play only netted five yards, but it was representative of the year that the Stokke has put together as an unsung hero who guides the way for Jonathan Taylor.
No. 10: Danny Davis jet-sweep
Danny Davis races 17 yards for the score pic.twitter.com/1be0lUwYUc— GoatWorldSports ⚾️ (@GoatWorldSport1) November 9, 2019
After Iowa jumped on the Badgers with an early field-goal, Wisconsin was finally able to put a drive together against a stout Iowa defense. On second and seven, Danny Davis III would come across the formation, and take the jet-sweep from Jack Coan for a 17-yard scamper into the end zone. The touchdown would mark his first score of the year, and it would be his first of two touchdowns on the day. Davis punctuated the run with a diving superman move to the pylon, as Wisconsin would take the lead on the Hawkeyes and eek out a narrow victory 24-22.
No. 9: Acrobatic adjustment by Quintez Cephus
This play would turn out to not be nearly as vital as many of the other timely plays to come, but for shear playmaking ability, this catch was right up there. After starting the drive near midfield, Jack Coan was able to connect with Quintez Cephus on a fade right to the front corner of the end zone. The ball was put in a spot only Cephus could grab, and the 6-foot-1 receiving target would make a brilliant adjustment to the ball to reel in a 29-yard touchdown right before Jump Around.
No. 8: Jonathan Taylor wheel route
After starting the drive at the Wisconsin 18-yard line, the Badgers were able to string together a solid drive on the Gophers in the waning stages of the first half. Jonathan Taylor was primarily used as a decoy for large sections of this game, but he made his presence felt in a big way on this second and four wheel route. One-on-one with a linebacker, Taylor was able to snag the back shoulder throw and back his way into the end zone for the touchdown. The 28-yard touchdown reception would propel the Badgers into the lead for the first time in the game, as Wisconsin would run away from the Gophers to reclaim Paul Bunyan’s Axe.
No. 7: High step highlight
Paul Chryst rolled the dice and opted to take the ball after winning the opening coin toss of the Big Ten Championship game against Ohio State. With the majority of the nation watching, the Wisconsin offense would answer the call quickly. Jonathan Taylor finished off the opening drive with a 44-yard run in which he split the secondary, and high stepped his way into the end zone. The Badgers would ultimately lose this game by 13 points, but that opening punch by the Wisconsin offense absolute sent shockwaves across the Big Ten.
No. 6: Wildcat fun
Wildcat formation with Aron Cruickshank and Jonathan Taylor sharing the backfield? That has big play written all over it.— George Balekji NBC15 (@GeorgeBalekji) November 23, 2019
27-yards later, Wisconsin lead. pic.twitter.com/zFuDUAOmmc
Adding a new wrinkle into the offense, Wisconsin unveiled a three-headed wildcat against Purdue. In the first drive of the game, Aron Cruickshank would take the snap and fake the run with Doak Walker winner Jonathan Taylor. The defense would flow to the ultra talented tailback, allowing the quick all-purpose athlete Cruickshank to carve his way through the Purdue defense on a 27-yard touchdown run, and help start things off right for the Badger offense.
No. 5: Screen pass shenanigans
Timing of the play call was perfect, as was the blocking. With three #Badger offensive linemen out in front to guide the way for Garret Groshek, this screen broke the Gophers' back. Very next play, JT score. pic.twitter.com/jI7bzGNsaG— George Balekji NBC15 (@GeorgeBalekji) November 30, 2019
With Wisconsin holding onto a two touchdown lead, the Badgers found themselves in a third and six predicament in their own territory. Utilizing jet motion with Jack Dunn, Wisconsin beautifully executed a screen pass to Garrett Groshek. The third-down back would take it 70-yards down the sideline led by an entourage of offensive lineman in front of him. The long gain would set up the offense for another touchdown, as Wisconsin poured it on Minnesota in Minneapolis.
No. 4: Jump ball fireworks
With Quintez Cephus on full display as one of the most talented receivers in country last night, against one of the best secondaries in the nation, his most impressive catch had an impressive throw by Jack Coan. Buried in the pocket, taking a hard hit, made a money throw. pic.twitter.com/hoNc1XRHEo— George Balekji NBC15 (@GeorgeBalekji) December 9, 2019
Many figured the half was over after Ohio State finally got on the board against Wisconsin with only 42 seconds remaining in the first half. After a couple of nice runs by Jonathan Taylor, Jack Coan was itching for more though. Coan threw up a fade route to Quintez Cephus. The junior receiver would out-leap the defender and haul in an amazing catch that got the Badgers down to the one yard line. Jack Coan would proceed to sneak the ball into the end zone to give Wisconsin a 14-point lead at the half. The catch by Cephus was his most impressive of the season, as he showed out on a national stage against two of the better cover corners in the Big Ten.
No. 3: 70-yard statement
In just the first half, USNFT alum Jonathan Taylor:— U.S. National Football Team (@USNFT) September 21, 2019
• Scored two rushing TDs
• Had a 72-yard carry to the house (@JayT23's longest carry of the season)
• Contributed 143 of No. 13 @BadgerFootball's 200 team rushing yards#USALLIN | #OnWisconsinpic.twitter.com/Yedz5BuUur
Wisconsin came out the gates aggressive against Michigan. After Danny Davis came across the formation in motion to hold the defense, Jonathan Taylor was off to the races. The star running back would burst around the left side of the offensive line and never look back, pulling away from the Michigan defenders on his way to seven points. In the biggest game of the season at that point, the Wisconsin offense dominated the Wolverines in every facet of the game 35-14.
No. 2: Stiff-arm excitement
Wisconsin already had a stranglehold of the game with Michigan State at the time of this play, but in terms of a personal effort, Kendric Pryor’s run is second to...well, one. Pryor took the jet-sweep out of the backfield at the 11 minute mark, and would not be denied until he reached the end zone. With some stellar blocking out in front of him, Pryor was tasked with making one man miss. He delivered a tremendous stiff arm to the oncoming defender, and would scamper 66-yards in total for the score.
No. 1: A.J. Taylor weaves his way for a touchdown
Deciding on the top play was difficult, but A.J. Taylor gets the nod from me. At the time of the catch, Wisconsin was down by four points. Jim Leonhard’s defense was struggling to stop anyone, and at the halfway mark of the second quarter, the offense had been up and down. That changed quick. On a second and five play, Jack Coan delivered a dime on a slant route to A.J. Taylor, who would spin and break tackles on his way to the end zone. Taylor made a fantastic move to keep his balance after being hit by two defenders, and then proceeded to shake another one to open up the field for him to run the rest of the way for the score. In terms of timeliness and impressiveness, this 55-yard play takes the cake.
What was the top offensive play in 2019?
This poll is closed
A.J. Taylor: 55-yard touchdown catch against Nebraska
Kendric Pryor: 66-yard stiff arm rush against Michigan State
Jonathan Taylor: 70-yard house call against Michigan
Quintez Cephus: Jump ball in B1G Championship game against Ohio State