The No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers (4-0 overall, 2-0 B1G) defeated Northwestern, 24-15, in a hotly contested defensive showdown.
Wisconsin started off the game, as they have every game this season, with a Jonathan Taylor touchdown run. Taylor took the carry into the end zone from 13 yards out, with Wisconsin in the Hippo formation, on fourth and two.
Coming into the game, Northwestern (1-3 overall, 0-2 B1G) was one of only two Big Ten teams to have never allowed Taylor to eclipse the 100-yard rushing mark. As a freshman, Taylor rushed for 80 yards against the Wildcats and he rushed for only 46 yards in last season’s 31-17 loss. The 46 yards were Taylor’s second-lowest rushing total in a game in his collegiate career.
Ohio State is the only other Big Ten school to have not allowed Taylor over 100 yards. In Taylor’s only game against the Buckeyes, he rushed for 41 yards.
However, Taylor eclipsed the century mark in the win over Northwestern. This was the ninth-straight game that Taylor has been over 100 yards.
He finished the game with 119 yards on 26 carries.
Despite Taylor’s 100-yard game, Wisconsin’s offense had trouble finding it footing. However, the Badger defense lived up to the billing of a top-rated defense.
Wisconsin allowed 255 total yards (158 passing, 97 rushing) and forced three turnovers and recorded five sacks.
Wisconsin’s offense was out-gained by Northwestern, 255-243. This was the first time this season that Wisconsin has been out-gained.
With Wisconsin’s offensive troubles, the defense got involved in the scoring.
Eric Burrell, who sat out the first half due to a targeting penalty against Michigan, made his presence felt, coming in on a blitz and hitting Northwestern quarterback Hunter Johnson as he was about to throw the ball.
The hit by Burrell knocked it loose and defensive lineman Matt Henningsen fell on it in the end zone. The touchdown is Henningsen’s second score of the season. He also recovered a fumble for a score in the opener, against USF.
Wisconsin’s defense then added a second score, when Noah Burks returned an interception 68 yards to the house.
Wildcats backup quarterback Aidan Smith, who entered when Hunter Johnson left with an injury three plays prior, was hit by Zach Baun as he was throwing the ball, causing the pass to be intercepted by Burks.
Northwestern scored their first touchdown of the day, following a Jack Dunn fumble on the punt. The Wildcats took advantage with a 5-play, 31-yard scoring drive, capped off by a Drake Anderson touchdown run.
Following the score, Northwestern recovered an onside kick, and looked to be in business once again, but the Wisconsin defense came through once more, as Chris Orr sacked Smith, forcing a fumble, that was recovered by Mike Maskalunas.
Northwestern would add one more score, to cap off an 80-yard drive. Smith found Jefferson in the back of the end zone for a 15-yard score.
Collin Wilder all but secured the victory for Wisconsin when he sacked Smith on Northwestern’s final drive, forcing them into a fourth and nineteen.
The Wildcats turned the ball over on downs and Wisconsin then ran out the clock to move to 4-0 on the season.