The No. 2/3 (BCS/traditional; how the hell did we drop in the polls?!?) Wisconsin Badgers (8-0 overall, 5-0 B1G) finally returned to Camp Randall Stadium after what seemed like months on the road and beat the scrappy Iowa Hawkeyes (3-5 overall, 2-4 B1G), 38-17.
The Badgers, as has been tradition recently, started off slowly. Iowa marched right down the field on the first drive of the game and scored a touchdown, which the Badgers matched later in the first quarter but Iowa had the momentum thanks to a dominant rushing performance.
Jonathan Taylor, on the other hand, seemed to still have a little bit of rust to shake off after missing 75% of the Purdue game with an injury last week. He ended the game rushing for two scores, but only gained 92 yards on 28 carries (3.2 ypc) and added one catch for eight yards.
The second quarter was a different story as the Badgers added a Collin Larsh field goal, Noah Burks pick six and Taylor two-yard plunge to take a 24-10 lead going into halftime. As has been the case in recent weeks, the Wisconsin defense is the unit that stepped up after the first quarter, holding Iowa to only 60 yards in the second quarter and forcing the first (of many) Nate Stanley interceptions.
You’ll note that Jack Coan tossed two picks in the second but did throw for 99 yards and helped the Badgers score right before halftime by slinging it all over the field. Danny Davis III had a bad game. He had two drops and only one catch (for 19 yards), but his one catch happened to be this beaut in the second quarter.
The third quarter was a real back and forth between Coan and Stanley on who could throw the ball to the other team more. Thankfully, Stanley won the competition, throwing three interceptions to Rachad Wildgoose alone in the second half. Nobody scored in the third and then a blown coverage allowed Ihmir Smith-Marsette to get loose for a 38-yard score at the beginning of the fourth, cutting Wisconsin’s lead to just a touchdown.
Wisconsin settled in, however, and scored the final 14 points of the game, including a 64-yard catch and run by Quintez Cephus with 47 seconds left that sealed the deal.
Iowa converted one third down all game (in the first quarter) and never even got a red zone opportunity.
Here are the Wisconsin individual stats:
Coan had electric stuff on the day, throwing two TDs and three picks while averaging 20 yards per completion. An exciting and maddening game from the junior.
Iowa’s rush defense was ranked No. 43 in the nation but looked like the ‘85 Chicago Bears against a banged up Taylor. Coan got loose on a couple of read option plays that really seemed to throw the Hawkeyes off.
A.J. Taylor filled in for a struggling Davis while Jake Ferguson and Cephus had their usual stellar performances.
Zack Baun finally had a monster impact on a game, basically living in the Iowa backfield while recording seven tackles (four for loss) and a sack. Chris Orr was oddly quiet, having only four tackles.
Baun, Matt Henningsen and Isiahh Loudermilk each notched a sack, while Wildgoose had himself a career day against Nate Stanley.
I have to check the new standings, but the next game on the schedule is against Nebraska and both teams are undefeated and in the top-five of the BCS. I am going to try and figure out how to set up a Twitch stream so people can watch the game and I will keep you posted on a date and time.