Saturday night the Wisconsin Badgers met the Nebraska Cornhuskers for what should have been a marquee matchup, hampered by the inconvenient fact that Coach Scott Frost’s Nebraska squad has yet to find themselves a ‘W’.
Instead, we were graced with a Badger trouncing of an abominable team that said more about the shortcomings of both teams than the strength of Wisconsin.
Jonathan Taylor, Mr. 88
Editor’s Note: I wanted to copy and paste this section from every other week but I was told that would be dishonest.
Running back Jonathan Taylor found the end zone for the first time since his three-touchdown performance in week two — and made it count.
He finished the game with 221 yards on 24 carries, picking up three touchdowns along the way and subtweeted the Heisman committee with a career-long 88-yard explosion that elevated his night from good to great.
Football: Wisconsin embodies idyllic Big Ten football, tops Nebraska 41-24For the diehard fan of purebred Big Ten football, Saturday night versus Nebraska was an absolute dream come true. Picture Read…
“It was real nice to get out to open field, stretch my legs a little bit,” the Heisman hopeful said.
Some stretch their legs by going for a short walk up and down the aisle of an airplane.
Taylor prefers a stroll during the fourth quarter of a Big Ten soiree.
There truly isn’t a takeaway here. I mean, if Taylor hadn’t had the 88-yarder, or if he’d only run for 120 yards yesterday, nobody would be questioning his position as one of the best backs in the country.
“The Heisman stuff, that’s all at the end of the year, what matters right now is Michigan,” Taylor said.
Spread the wealth
Wisconsin didn’t just ride Taylor Saturday, they used a whole fleet of running backs to end the game with a combined 370 yards on the ground.
In fact, the Badgers used five rushers on their first drive of the game.
Running backs Taiwan Deal and Garrett Groshek have proven themselves excellent compliments to Taylor in the backfield.
“They’re different body types, different style runners,” offensive lineman Beau Benzschawel said of the trio of running backs.
The ability of the Badgers to show opponents these many different looks was vital in their success wearing down the defense to eventually break off the long Taylor run.
Groshek and Deal both eclipsed the 70-yard mark Saturday, a career-high for Groshek and season-high for Deal.
Aron Cruickshank: Your favorite player’s favorite player
When it rains it pours.
Wide receiver Aron Cruickshank had himself quite a day Saturday.
The slight-statured Cruickshank was a shifty blur in the kickoff return game. He had 90 yards total in three returns, including one which was destined to go all the way to The House, until Nebraska punter Caleb Lightbourn managed to get a finger on the cleat of Cruickshank and ruin what would have been a dagger for Nebraska’s morale.
Would we be satisfied with three extraordinary returns from the freshman?
Yes, but we got even more.
The hero of Taylor’s 88-yarder was not, in fact, Taylor at all.
Nor was it the offensive lineman leading the way.
It was Aron freaking Cruickshank of course.
“I saw some sweet blocks, I saw Aron Cruickshank put a sweet block on someone,” offensive lineman Michael Deiter said.
And a sweet block it was.
As Taylor broke free from the line of scrimmage, it seemed for a moment like he may be caught by trailing Nebraska defenders. Then, No. 1 comes flying into view — taking out the pursuant with an expert block that would make fullback Matt Bernstein blush.
As wonderful as a game Saturday was for the running attack, it was about as brutal as it could get from a pass defense point of view.
Football: Badgers hope to deny Nebraska their first win of season SaturdayThe No. 16 University of Wisconsin Badgers will host the Nebraska Cornhuskers Saturday at Camp Randall as Wisconsin eases off Read…
They allowed 384 yards through the air from Nebraska’s freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez. There’s a reason Nebraska hasn’t won a game, and it isn’t because they have an elite passing game.
Safety Scott Nelson, who at times has looked like the future of the Badger secondary, looked undisciplined and unprepared Saturday.
At the onset of the second half, Nelson literally fell down to allow a 75-yard Nebraska completion for a touchdown.
This damage was only compounded when Nelson, perhaps overzealous as he tried to compensate for his transgression, was called for targeting and ejected for the remainder of the contest and the first half of next week’s game against Michigan.
As Martinez tossed a long ball down the sideline for his receiver, Nelson came in hot toward him, lowering his shoulder into the head of the Cornhusker receiver, eliciting immediate flags from not one, not two, but three referees on the scene who soon after confirmed the ejection penalty.
Even with the struggles for consistency the secondary has faced when healthy, heading into next week the obstacle of injury has also reared its head.
Football: Taylor’s season starts off strong, but strong enough for a Heisman?The University of Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor has been a victim of his own excellence. After submitting one of Read…
Aside from Nelson, who is healthy but suspended for the first half of the Michigan game, lone veteran safety D’Cota Dixon landed awkwardly late in the game and may be questionable with a foot injury, cornerback Caesar Williams was out this week with a leg injury, his replacement Eric Burrell also succumbed to a leg injury and Faion Hicks was listed as questionable with a thumb injury though he played most the night.
You don’t need a medical degree to know that a litany of injuries will severely hamper the already struggling Badger secondary.
The Badgers don’t dwell on games too long, and for some of those that have to figure out how to adapt to Michigan’s passing game, that could be for the better.
“Sunday afternoon, it’s Michigan week,” Deiter said.