When Rutgers (1-7, 0-6 Big Ten) comes to town, you better have your A-team. Or, at least your B-team. OK, honestly — as long as you have a football team you should be fine.
And for all the faults of the Badgers (6-3, 4-2 Big Ten), they sure do have a football team.
Saturday was a much-needed reprieve from what seems to be a never-ending onslaught of losses, injuries, underperforming and more injuries.
Despite falling to Northwestern last week and effectively turning a fluke two-loss season into a decidedly bad season, Rutgers will always be there for those who need a helping hand.
Things were back to the ways we all remembered.
Running back Jonathan Taylor, someone you may have heard of if elite talent is your kind of thing, had a vintage performance.
On 27 tries, the sophomore notched 208 yards and three touchdowns. For those keeping score at home, that’s an average of 7.7 yards per carry.
Though the Heisman hopeful may have fallen out of contention for the elusive award thanks to a spate of games unbecoming of a Heisman finalist (though wonderful by another metric), he showed enough Saturday that he hasn’t lost a step.
The important number is the three touchdowns, though he’s far-and-away the No. 1 man in the running back corp, scoring opportunities have been diluted thanks to the goal line prowess of Taiwan Deal and Alec Ingold, as well as the spark plug that is Garrett Groshek.
Trouble in QB-land
Quarterback Alex Hornibrook was solidly set in place as the starter all season long, but he sat out last week in the loss against Northwestern because of a head injury and left Saturday’s game for the same reason at halftime.
Sophomore Jack Coan filled in on both occasions and performed moderately well: 25–38, 222 yards, 2 TD – 0 INT.
While he wasn’t a world-beater by any means (he wasn’t even a Northwestern-beater), his performance has been enough for many to wonder if Hornibrook’s spot is as secure as was originally thought.
The program was planning to redshirt Coan, and still can if they keep him under the three-game threshold. It seems like a final decision has yet to be made — though Coan said Saturday he was open to whatever the coaches decided.
Special Teams redemption
The Special Teams unit was disorganized and disorderly during the defeat in Evanston, providing key penalties that gave way to Northwestern scores.
The turnaround was evident early Saturday, as linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel was able to lay a finger on a second-quarter Rutgers field goal attempt and provide teammate D’Cota Dixon with a 34-yard scoop-and-run.
Defense regaining form
There has undoubtedly been a lack of pass defense this season, with young players like safety Scott Nelson, cornerbacks Rachad Wildgoose, Faion Hicks and Caesar Williams filling key roles.
Men’s Basketball: Badgers victorious despite strong UW-Oshkosh effort in exhibitionThe University of Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team defeated their division three opponents, the UW-Oshkosh Titans 82–70 in their lone Read…
Though they’ve struggled mightily at times this season, Saturday the Badgers were able to break-up a season-high eight passes.
University of Wisconsin has also had an uncharacteristically difficult time getting to the quarterback this season, another trend they were able to buck Saturday.
Though the Badgers were unable to sack Rutgers quarterback Artur Sitkowski, they were marked for four quarterback hurries and what seemed like a few more hard hits on him, which clearly contributed to the secondary’s ability to make smart plays on the ball.
With this win, Wisconsin is bowl-eligible, which is usually a given but feels like a small victory in the midst of this rough season. Next week, against Penn State, the Badgers will hope to carry much of their success at Camp Randall Saturday into Beaver Stadium.