MADISON — Jonathan Taylor ran for 221 yards and three scores as Wisconsin improved to 2-0 in Big Ten play after beating Nebraska 41-24 on Saturday night at Camp Randall Stadium.
Offense: RB Jonathan Taylor
For the most part, we haven’t seen the explosive runs this year from Taylor that we saw in his freshman campaign. Whether teams are just doing a better job focusing on him or the running game hasn’t been hitting on all cylinders, Taylor has put up big yards but not a lot of big gains. That changed against Nebraska. Faced with a first-and-10 from their own 12-yard line in the fourth quarter, the sophomore showed off his blend of power and speed by fighting off a pair of tacklers and then leaving everyone else in the dust.
Defense: Rush defense
Wisconsin didn’t have many standout efforts on the defensive side of the ball, but they did accomplish their goal of stopping the run and forcing Nebraska to throw. The Huskers ended up with 111 yards, but almost a quarter of that came on a 28-yard scramble by quarterback Adrian Martinez. Running backs Devine Ozigbo and Maurice Washington combined for 56 yards and were largely non-factors in the run game.
Special Teams: KR Aron Cruickshank
Cruickshank has often been asked on social media when he’s going to take a kick back for a touchdown and he’s always replied that it would come soon. Well, he didn’t get in the end zone, but he came really close in the first half. The only thing that stopped him? Nebraska kicker Barret Pickering, who got just enough of his foot to trip him up. It was one of three good efforts on the night for Cruickshank, who averaged 30 yards per return.
What they said
“It was nice to get out into the open field and stretch my legs a bit.”
— Jonathan Taylor on his career-long 88-yard touchdown run
“[With a] scrambling quarterback, covering a guy for nine seconds is kind of hard. There’s really nothing you can work on if you’ve got to cover for nine seconds.”
— cornerback Rachad Wildgoose on dealing with QB Adrian Martinez and the Huskers passing attack
“I give my hat off to (Martinez). He did [extend] plays well. … We just need to get more pressure. It’s kind of difficult guarding guys for that long period of time. But I think as a unit defensively, we’ve just go to do better. We’ll be ready for next week.”
— safety Eric Burrell on the struggles against Martinez
Videos of the game
For all the lip readers out there:
In Case You Missed It
— Wisconsin celebrated the 25th anniversary of the 1993 Big Ten/1994 Rose Bowl title team on Saturday night. The group won the conference for the first time in 31 years and earned the Badgers first ever victory in the Rose Bowl. About 70 members of that team were back for a special halftime ceremony.
— The Badgers’ defense took several more hits on the injury front. Already playing without cornerback Caesar Williams, Wisconsin lost fellow cornerback Deron Harrell to a head injury in the first half and defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk to an apparent left leg injury in the third quarter.
The latter was seen leaving the field on crutches. It’s unclear what the exact injury is, but it’s to the same leg he had surgery on after spring practice that led to him missing all of fall camp and the season opener.
Safety D’Cota Dixon also departed late in the game with what looked like a leg injury, but Burrell said afterwards that he would be fine and expects him to play at Michigan.
Cornerback Faion Hicks played Saturday night despite what he said was a torn ligament in his left hand. He was wearing a soft cast and said it’s something he’ll have to continuing wearing for at least the next four weeks.
— Safety Scott Nelson was ejected for targeting in the third quarter. Because it came in the second half, Nelson will be forced to miss the first half of next week’s game at Michigan.
— Cruickshank delivered a crushing block (see below) on Taylor’s 88-yard touchdown.
— A healthy number of Wisconsin’s verbal commitments in the Class of 2019 were on hand for the game. That included 5-star offensive lineman Logan Brown and 4-star quarterback Graham Mertz.
Inside the Numbers
5 — That’s the number of games that Jonathan Taylor has run for at least 200 yards in his career. It’s tied for the third-most in school history, trailing only Ron Dayne (14) and Melvin Gordon (7).
533 — That’s the total number of yards Wisconsin had in the game. That’s the most for the Badgers in a Big Ten game since putting up 627 yards against Nebraska in 2014.
45 — That’s the projected number of catches this season (if Wisconsin plays 14 games) for Jake Ferguson after hauling in four passes on Saturday. It would be the most by a freshman tight end in Badgers history.
65 — That’s the number of field goals Rafael Gaglianone has made his career — tied for the most in Wisconsin history.
5 — That’s the total number of sacks Wisconsin has this year after linebacker T.J. Edwards picked up two on the night. The Badgers averaged three sacks per game last season.
518 — That’s the number of yards Wisconsin’s defense gave up. It’s the most since Ohio State put 558 on the Badgers in the 2014 Big Ten title game.
Wisconsin (4-1, 2-0) travels to No. 15 Michigan (5-1, 3-0) next Saturday to take on the Wolverines under the lights.