The Wisconsin Badgers (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) took care of business Saturday in Lincoln, Nebraska, defeating the Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-6, 2-5 Big Ten) 37–21.
The win set the stage for the perfect Saturday for Head Coach Paul Chryst’s team, as about three hours after the clock ran out on Nebraska’s upset chances, the Iowa Hawkeyes took care of business at home against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, opening a path for a Big Ten Championship appearance for the Badgers.
Here are four takeaways from Saturday’s action.
Football: Wisconsin prevails over Nebraska in matchup of ground-and-pound offensesThe University of Wisconsin football team (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-6, 2-5) on their turf Saturday Read…
First, the Badger defense got flat-out dominated in the trenches.
Jim Leonhard’s defense prides itself on winning the battle upfront. Saturday, for the second time in three weeks, his unit lost the battle, and was gashed for 273 yards on the ground and a yards-per-carry clip of 7.4.
Allowing more than 250 rushing yards to The Ohio State University’s J.K. Dobbins and Justin Fields can be chalked up to the talent of the two and the talent of the Buckeye offense as a whole.
Allowing 273 yards to Adrian Martinez and Dedrick Mills? That’s from getting pushed off the line of scrimmage all day long.
The second takeaway is — also for the second time in three weeks — the Badger defense struggled to contain a dual-threat quarterback.
Justin Fields got the unit for 195 total yards and three total touchdowns when the Badgers visited Columbus, Ohio. Saturday, Adrian Martinez gashed the unit for 210 passing yards, 89 yards on the ground and two total touchdowns.
Luckily for the Badgers, the only other rushing threat under center they would face this season would be Justin Fields again in the Big Ten Championship Game were they to make it that far.
The third takeaway from Saturday is that if this Badger team was in true playoff contention, Jonathan Taylor would be a Heisman Trophy frontrunner.
Taylor continued his utter dominance of Nebraska on Saturday, finishing the game with 204 yards, two touchdowns and a yards-per-carry clip of 8.2.
Taylor has now played the Cornhuskers three times in his career. He has rushed for 674 yards and seven touchdowns. Absolute dominance.
Taylor also made history Saturday, surpassing all-time great running back Herschel Walker for first on the all-time yards list through a player’s junior season. Oh, and he still has three games to play (potentially four if the Badgers get to the Big Ten Championship).
There’s no doubt that if this Badger team had a path to playoff, Taylor would be getting Heisman finalist love and would have a real chance at taking home the award.
The final takeaway from Saturday is that the Nov. 30 matchup between Wisconsin and Minnesota will have a trip to the Big Ten Championship Game at stake.
Minnesota has been a revelation under third-year Head Coach P.J. Fleck and sophomore quarterback Tanner Morgan. They are a team with legitimate NFL talent on the outside in wide receivers Rashod Bateman and Tyler Johnson, a more-than-capable running back in Rodney Smith and a veteran defense with 14 interceptions, seven forced fumbles and 23 sacks on the year.
After Saturday’s loss at Iowa, though, they no longer looked invincible. All eyes will turn when the two teams take the field in two weeks’ time.
The Badgers will turn their focus to a home matchup against Purdue this coming Saturday before traveling to Minneapolis, Minnesota to finish their regular season.