MADISON — It took nearly 29 minutes, but No. 9 Wisconsin finally woke up. And once it did, the Badgers turned into a steamroller, scoring 59 unanswered points, including 49 in the second half, to beat Utah State 59-10 on Friday night at Camp Randall Stadium.
Play of the Game
Utah State led 10-7 with 1:01 left in the first half and had a first-and-10 at its own 18-yard line. The Badgers had just gotten their first points of the game, so it would have made sense for the Aggies to be satisfied with their lead and head into halftime. They apparently weren’t satisfied, as quarterback Kent Myers came out throwing and it turned into a disaster. His short toss to Carson Terrell on first down went off the receiver’s hands and right into the waiting arms of linebacker T.J. Edwards.
“That was huge,” safety D’Cota Dixon said afterwards. “It was the hammer and the nail. That’s exactly what you need, especially when you’re down. It was exactly what we needed.”
The interception only led to a field goal, but it was the first of many mistakes the rest of the way for Utah State, which would go on to turn the ball over four times.
Offense: TE Troy Fumagalli
Others were flashier, but the senior posted a career-high 105 yards receiving, picking up where he left off in Wisconsin’s Cotton Bowl victory last January.
His 15-yard catch on third-and-12 in the second quarter kept the Badgers first scoring drive of the game going, and then quarterback Alex Hornibrook found him wide open on third-and-2 early in the third quarter for a 23-yard touchdown.
With his big night, Fumagalli now sits fifth all-time in receiving yards for a tight end at Wisconsin, and will likely end up with the second-most by the time his career is over.
Defense: ILB T.J. Edwards
The junior was everywhere on Friday night, collecting seven tackles, one tackle for loss, picking off one pass and breaking up two more throws. His interception late in the second quarter proved to be the turning point in a game that Utah State led at that point.
But it wasn’t just the numbers for Edwards. It was the passion he played with, finishing off tackles with an emphasis. It was everything you’d expect out of one of the best linebackers in the Big Ten.
Special Teams: K Rafael Gaglianone
He only kicked one field goal — from just 29 yards — but Gaglianone gets the game ball because it was his first time on the field since suffering a season-ending back injury last September.
Wisconsin didn’t need his leg to win on Friday night, but history would suggest they’ll need it at some point this season.
Video of the Game
In their own wordsJonathan Taylor describes his first career touchdown, a 13-yard scamper in the third quarter.
Quote of the Day
“I always describe Coach Chryst as a dad away from home. He’s just the same guy. He’s very smooth, very calm, very collected. But, as a father would when a child needs to be disciplined and needs to be talked to, he will discipline us. He just honestly told us the truth. We were beating ourselves a lot.”
— Dixon on the loud and direct message that coach Paul Chryst gave the team at halftime on Friday night.
In Case You Missed It
— Wisconsin’s captains were defensive end Alec James, wide receiver Jazz Peavy, tight end Troy Fumagalli and safety Natrell Jamerson. The honorary captain was Al Toon, a member of UW’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
— Several true freshmen made their debuts on Friday, including running back Jonathan Taylor, wide receiver Danny Davis, quarterback Jack Coan, cornerback Madison Cone and long snapper Adam Bay.
— Fumagalli wore No. 48 in honor of senior linebacker Jack Cichy, who will miss the year with a torn ACL. Fumagalli said it was just a one time thing, but that he really wanted to do it to show Cichy how much he meant to the team.
— Junior Zander Neuville’s first career catch turned into his first career touchdown, as he tightroped down the sideline for the 28-yard score early in the third quarter. But it wouldn’t have been possible without the extra effort of Danny Davis, who managed to block three different guys to help get the tight end into the end zone.
— Wisconsin trailed 10-0 in the first half. It was the first time the Badgers had trailed by double digits in a non-conference home game since 2012 against — you guessed it — Utah State. The Badgers won that game 16-14.
Inside the Numbers
15:19 — That’s how long it took for Wisconsin to go from down 10-0 to up 38-10.
87 — That’s the number of rushing yards for freshman Jonathan Taylor in his first career game. It included a pretty 41-yard run on the first play of the second half to jump start the offense.
99 — That was the length of Joe Ferguson’s interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, the longest return in school history.
3 — That’s the number of touchdowns Alex Hornibrook threw on Friday night, a career high and 1/3 of what he threw all of last year.
478 — That’s the number of yards Wisconsin’s offense rolled up. It’s the third-highest total since Chryst took over as coach in 2015.
Wisconsin (1-0) will host Florida Atlantic next Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium. The Owls, in their first game under new coach Lane Kiffin, lost 42-19 to Navy on Friday.