Wisconsin returned to its roots in its Big Ten opener, by rushing the ball 57 times for 359 yards.
“I think that certainly we appreciate our coaches and them putting it together,” said head coach Paul Chryst. “But I will always maintain that that’s our job and it’s the players that make that come to life and I thought they did that.”
Jonathan Taylor started the game, as he has started the previous two, with rushing touchdown. Wisconsin’s opening drive went 12-plays and covered 75 yards, over 6:25 of game clock and ended with a Taylor one-yard touchdown run.
Taylor picked up 51 of the 75 yards on the opening drive on the ground.
Wisconsin’s defense was tested early, as Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson completed a 68-yard pass to Ronnie Bell, which setup the Wolverines with a first-and-goal.
However, Wisconsin’s defense was not ready to allow points just yet, as safety Reggie Pearson forced a fumble on a third-and-goal run by Ben Mason.
Wisconsin played aggressively all game, converting three fourth downs in the first half. This was the first time Wisconsin has completed three fourth downs in a game, since the 2015 Outback Bowl, against Michigan.
“It shows that he believes in us (the defense), its important and it shows that we believe in our offense too, and we believe in them when coach wants to go for it on fourth-and-one, that they get that one yard,” said Jack Sanborn.
Sanborn led the team with seven tackles and two for loss.
While most of Wisconsin’s drives were slow and methodical, Wisconsin only needed one play on their third drive of the game, to score.
Taylor found a hole in the offensive line and took off, untouched with a 72-yard rushing touchdown.
This would be Taylor’s final rush of the first half, finishing with 143 yards and two scores. Taylor exited the game with cramps.
In his absence, quarterback Jack Coan took on the burden of leading Wisconsin’s production.
Coan did finish the game 13-for-16 with 128 yards, but it was his legs that got Wisconsin on the board late in the first half.
Coan scored on a quarterback keeper from the goal line and then later added a 25-yard rushing touchdown.
Wisconsin’s defense kept its 13-quarter shut-out streak going into halftime.
The Badgers gave up 96 total yards in the first half, 68 coming on Michigan’s first play of the game and they also forced two turnovers, Pearson’s forced fumble and an interception by Eric Burrell.
Overall Wisconsin allowed 299 total yards, most of which came in the second half.
Taylor returned to the field in the second half and finished the game with 23 carriers for 203 yards and two scores.
Fullback John Chenal capped off Wisconsin’s opening drive of the second half with a two-yard touchdown run.
Michigan ended Wisconsin’s 13 quarter shutout streak, late in the third quarter, when Shea Patterson found Sean McKeon in the end zone. Patterson also completed a 2-point conversion, following the score.
Michigan’s drive was advanced by two Wisconsin penalties, both of which were for targeting. Safety Eric Burrell was first penalized for targeting when Wolverine quarterback Dylan McCaffery slid just short of the first down with Burrell hitting him.
Wisconsin’s other starting safety Reggie Pearson was also penalized for targeting on a hit of McCaffery as well, knocking him out of the game, and leading to Patterson coming back in.
Both Burrell and Pearson were ejected and will now miss the first half of next week’s game against Northwestern.
Michigan was able to find the end zone once more in the game, as Patterson orchestrated an eight play, 69-yard drive that covered 3:00. The drive ended with Patterson finding Donovan Peoples-Jones for a score on fourth and goal.
Patterson’s two-point try following the second score, would fall incomplete. Following an onside kick recovery, Patterson led Michigan on another long drive, deep into Wisconsin territory and nearly scored a touchdown.
Patterson threw a pass that was ruled complete in the end zone for a score to Nico Collins, but was later ruled incomplete after a review.
Patterson was then stripped of the ball by Zack Baun and Chris Orr was able to fall on it, with just under three minutes remaining.
Michigan did force a Wisconsin punt on the following drive, but Wisconsin was able to get the ball back with a John Torchio interception, who was in the game with Colin Wilder at safety, following the ejections.
Following the Torchio interception, the Wisconsin offense went into the victory formation and ran out the clock, following Michigan using their remaining two time outs, on their previous drive.
Wisconsin hosts Northwestern (1-2, 0-1), next Saturday at 11 a.m.