MADISON — Jonathan Taylor ran for 208 yards and three touchdowns as Wisconsin handed Rutgers its seventh-straight loss 31-17 on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.
Wisconsin Game Balls
Offense: Jonathan Taylor
If someone can run for a quiet 208 yards, Taylor did it on Saturday. The sophomore running back did quite a bit of his damage in the third quarter, carrying the ball seven times for 95 yards and two scores. The run that put him over the 200-yard mark was classic Wisconsin, as he appeared stopped in a pile for a gain of six or seven only to see Taylor and the Badgers move the pile another 10 yards for a gain of 17.
A Heisman Trophy favorite entering the year, Taylor has done his part, leading the country in rushing at 151 yards per game. He’s now on pace (13 games) to run for 1,968 yards. If he does, he’ll have the most rushing yards in the first two seasons of a career by any Wisconsin running back in school history.
Defense: Ryan Connelly
The Wisconsin defense wasn’t overwhelming on Saturday, but the senior linebacker showed up quite a bit. He finished with a team-high eight tackles — all of them solo — and had a tackle for loss. Connelly was also a big factor in putting pressure on Rutgers’ quarterback Artur Sitkowski, who took a bunch of big shots throughout the first three quarters of the game.
Special Teams: Andrew Van Ginkel
It turned out to be a footnote, but the outside linebacker helped keep Rutgers off the board in the second quarter by blocking a field goal attempt. The senior came off the edge to get his hand on the kick for his first career block. Safety D’Cota Dixon grabbed the ball out of the air and returned it 34 yards. It was a big swing in momentum after quarterback Alex Hornibrook had thrown his second interception of the day.
What they said
“We always get to six wins midway through the season. It doesn’t really mean anything because you could still be playing in Detroit.”
— Connelly on becoming bowl eligible. One of the potential bowl destinations for Big Ten teams is in Detroit.
In Case You Missed It
— Former Wisconsin WR Nick Toon served as the honorary captain.
— True freshman Bryson Williams made his first career start at nose tackle, taking the place of the injured Olive Sagapolu. Williams is the 23rd different first-time starter this season for Wisconsin.
— With their NFL teams on a bye week, former Badgers Leon Jacobs (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Alex Erickson (Cincinnati Bengals) were in attendance.
— Alex Hornibrook did not return to the field for the second half after suffering a head injury. The junior quarterback missed the Northwestern game the previous week with a concussion.
Inside the Numbers
18 — That’s how many plays Wisconsin used to go 78 yards in the second quarter before kicking a 32-yard field goal. It was the Badgers longest scoring drive in terms of plays since a 19-play drive against Ohio State in 2010.
13 — That’s how many plays Wisconsin ran in the third quarter. All of them were runs and they went for 163 yards and two touchdowns.
29.8 — That was Rutgers third-down percentage coming into the game, the worst mark in the country. Against Wisconsin, the Scarlet Knights went 9-for-19 — tied for their most conversions of the season.
6 — That’s the number of time’s Jonathan Taylor has topped the 200-yard mark. That’s the third-most in school history.
Wisconsin (6-3, 4-2) travel to Penn State next Saturday to face the Nittany Lions (6-3, 3-3) on the road for the first time since 2012.