(9) Wisconsin 31, Florida Atlantic 14: 2-minute drill

MADISON — No. 9 Wisconsin (2-0) got 223 yards and three touchdowns from Jonathan Taylor on its way to a 31-14 win over Florida Atlantic (0-2) on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.

Play of the Game

On their second drive of the game, the Badgers faced a second-and-9 from their 36-yard line. Taylor got the ball going to his left, broke one tackle and saw a crease, which he exploded through for a 64-yard touchdown. It was a sign of what was to come as the Badgers rolled up 357 yards on the ground.

Game Balls

Offense: RB Jonathan Taylor

The true freshman made a really good first impression against Utah State in the opener, and followed that up with an even more impressive showing in Week 2. Taylor scored on runs of 64 and 29 yards in the first half, showing off his burst and balance on both touchdowns. He added a third score in the second half and finished the game with 223 yards to become just the fourth true freshman at Wisconsin to top 200 yards in a game and the first since Zach Brown in 2007.

Defense: LB Leon Jacobs

The senior continues to show outside linebacker is the position he should have been at his entire career. Jacobs finished with six tackles, two tackles for loss and his first sack of the season. He was part of a defense that tallied 10 tackles for loss and five sacks on the day, limiting the Owls to 282 yards, including just 50 after halftime.

Special Teams: Anthony Lotti

Lotti averaged just 38.2 yards per punt, but the sophomore dropped a pair inside the 20, including one at the 4-yard line.

Video of the Game

In their own words

LISTEN: RB Jonathan Taylor meets the media after the game

In Case You Missed It

— Wisconsin’s captains for the day were defensive end Alec James, tight end Troy Fumagalli, safety Natrell Jamerson and wide receiver Jazz Peavy. The honorary captain was former quarterback Matt Schabert.

— A pair of true freshmen — wide receiver Danny Davis and Taylor — earned their first career starts. Davis caught the first pass of his career, a 35-yard reception from quarterback Alex Hornibrook.

— Starting right guard Beau Benzschawel sustained a right leg injury in the second quarter and did not return. Junior Micah Kapoi replaced him.

— Safety Patrick Johnson was ruled out in the second half with an arm injury. It’s the second game in a row that he left with an injury.

— Quarterback Jack Coan completed the first pass of his career, hitting running back Garrett Groshek for six yards and a first down.

Inside the Numbers

101 — That’s the number of yards rushing that junior Chris James put up — the second 100-yard game of his career and the first at Wisconsin.

3 — That’s the number of times quarterback Alex Hornibrook has thrown for at least 200 yards in his career. Two of the three have come this year.

1 — That’s the number of penalties Wisconsin had on Saturday, eight fewer than the Badgers had in the opener against Utah State.

15-0 — That’s Wisconsin’s record when gaining 500 yards or more on offense dating back to the start of the 2012 season. The Badgers had 564 yards of offense on Saturday.

8 — That’s the number of catches tight end Troy Fumagalli had — a career-high. He finished with 92 yards receiving and a touchdown.

What’s Next

Wisconsin (2-0) will hit the road for the first time this season as they visit BYU (1-1) next Saturday.

Wisconsin 23, Nebraska 17 (OT): 2-minute drill

Game Balls

Offense: Dare Ogunbowale

Saturday night belonged to the senior running back. He carried the ball just 11 times but ran for a season-high 120 yards, the fourth time he’s topped the century mark in his career, with half of them coming against Nebraska.

Showing patience and some elite quickness, Ogunbowale sliced through the Huskers defense time after time, doing most of his damage on draws, exploiting an aggressive front seven. On his final carry of the night, he followed left tackle Ryan Ramczyk and center Michael Deiter around the edge of the Nebraska defense for an 11-yard touchdown that proved to be the winning score.

Defense: Ryan Connelly, Leon Jacobs

Tasked with trying to replace Jack Cichy, the heart and soul of the defense, the two inside linebackers flew all over the field, finishing with a combined 22 tackles, two tackles for loss and a couple pass break-ups. They weren’t without their flaws — outside linebacker Vince Biegel says they had some communication issues — but put in a difficult situation they played at a very high level.

Special Teams: Corey Clement

It what wasn’t a banner night for the special teams, Clement’s 24-yard punt return in the first quarter stands out. The senior was able to shake off some would-be tacklers and set the offense up with great field position at their own 49-yard line. Two plays later the Badgers were in the end zone to take an early 7-0 lead.

Tweets of the Night

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Video of the Night

Quote of the Day

“There was a sense of calm and confidence that (we) had coming out there.

“We were not going to let another close one — (an) overtime night game — slip by our fingers again.”

Linebacker Vince Biegel on the defense’s mentality as they took the field in overtime with a 6-point lead

In Case You Missed It

— Wisconsin’s Rafael Gaglianone joined Nebraska kicker Drew Brown and the rest of the Huskers specialists for their pregame ritual of carrying the late Sam Foltz’s jersey to the sideline. Foltz, a punter at Nebraska, was killed, along with former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler, in a car accident in Wisconsin back in July.

— Redshirt freshman David Edwards, a converted tight end, made his first career start at right tackle in place of the injured Jake Maxwell.

— Cornerback Natrell Jamerson missed his sixth straight game as a result of a leg injury. However, the junior did take part in warm-ups and could be close to returning.

— Former Wisconsin defensive lineman Tim Krumrie was honored during the game for his enshrinement into the College Football Hall of Fame. Krumrie led Wisconsin in tackles in all four years he played, and was named All-Big Ten three times.

— Wisconsin used two different quarterbacks for a second straight week. Redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook got the start, but senior Bart Houston played significant reps and was in the game on the Badgers score in overtime. The two combined to 14 of 23 for 114 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

— Junior fullback Austin Ramesh sustained an arm injury in the second half and didn’t return.

Inside the Numbers

6 — That’s the number of freshmen the Badgers had on the field for Bradrick Shaw’s 21-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Along with four redshirt freshmen — Shaw, Hornibrook, Edwards and guard Jon Dietzen — a pair of true freshmen — A.J. Taylor and Quintez Cephus — were in the game as well.

37.2% — That’s Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong’s completion percentage in his three games against Wisconsin after managing to hit on just 12 of 31 throws on Saturday night.

3-2 — That’s Wisconsin Big Ten record, leaving them one game behind Nebraska in the West Division. If the Badgers win out, and the Huskers lose any of their final four games, Wisconsin will play for a Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis for the fourth time in six years.

10 — That’s the number of pass break-ups the Wisconsin defense had, including one that led to an interception.

What’s Next?

Wisconsin (6-2, 3-2) will travel down I-90/39 next Saturday to take on Northwestern (4-4, 3-2). The Badgers haven’t won in Evanston since 1999.

Preview: No. 7 Nebraska at No. 11 Wisconsin

THE BASICS

The teams: The No. 7 Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-0, 4-0) vs the No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers (5-2 2-2)

The time: 6 p.m. CDT, Saturday

The place: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wis.

The TV coverage: ESPN with Joe Tessitore and Todd Blackledge in the booth, and Holly Rowe on the sideline.

The last time: Kicker Rafael Gaglianone hit a 46-yard field goal with 4 seconds left to give Wisconsin a 23-21 win last year at Nebraska.

The series: Wisconsin 6-4

The line: Wisconsin -9.5

The Badgers injury report:

QUESTIONABLE

CB Natrell Jamerson (leg)

RT Jake Maxwell (shoulder)

OUT

LB Griffin Grady (shoulder)

NT Olive Sagapolu (arm)

THE BREAKDOWN: FIVE THINGS TO WATCH

1) One more time

The toughest start to a Big Ten season in school history continues on Saturday night for Wisconsin, as they face their fifth top-10 opponent already this year with Nebraska in town. Asking kids to continually get up for big game after big game would seem like a difficult task but this team is a little different.

“Just taking it one game at a time in all honesty,” linebacker T.J. Watt told the Big Ten Network this week on how they are handling the schedule. “I know it sounds cliché, but you have to take it one practice at a time, one play at a time, and then once it’s game day, you just have to let loose.

“Have fun with this. Not everyone gets to play in big games like this week in and week out like we do. So we just have to have fun and showcase our talents each week.”

2) Next man in — again

The seemingly never ending rash of injuries continued last week for Wisconsin, as they lost leading tackler Jack Cichy for the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle. The junior inside linebacker was playing at such a high level that those around the program felt he was the MVP of the defense through the first seven games.

But just as they did when Chris Orr, Natrell Jamerson, Vince Biegel and Olive Sagapolu went down earlier this year,  the Badgers will ask the next guy to step in and not have a drop-off. This time that responsibility falls to sophomore Ryan Connelly and junior Leon Jacobs.

A former walk-on, Connelly stepped in admirably against LSU in the opener, while Jacobs started the first three games at inside linebacker last year before an injury sidelined him.

“Obviously, it’s disappointing for a talented guy like Jack Cichy to go down,” Biegel said. “But it’s not going to take just Leon and Ryan to step in. It’s also going to take our whole defensive front seven to fill in for guys that go down.”

Connelly is expected to get the first crack at the starting gig, but as Wisconsin has done at outside linebacker, rotating the foursome of Biegel, Watt, Garrett Dooley and Zack Baun, don’t be surprised if Jacobs sees plenty of time next to T.J. Edwards.

3) Which Tommy Armstrong shows up

If Nebraska is to pull the upset, quarterback Tommy Armstrong will need to continue playing at the level he has so far this year. The senior’s quarterback rating of 142.3 is the highest of his career, and he’s averaging an interception just once every 37 throws, the lowest rate of his time in Lincoln.

But he’s done all of that against defenses that aren’t on Wisconsin’s level. And if history is any indication, the Badgers will give Armstrong fits. Two of his worst days as the starter at Nebraska came against UW’s 3-4 scheme. He completed just 16 of 47 throws in the 2014 and 2015 games combined — both Nebraska losses.

If the good Armstrong shows up, Nebraska should be in the game until the end, as he’s got plenty of weapons to get the ball to. But if the Tommy Armstrong of old got on the charter flight to Madison, it’s likely to be a long night for him and the Huskers offense.

4) Running game on track?

The Wisconsin running game has come alive in the past two weeks, piling up 403 yards on the ground, including 298 by running back Corey Clement. The senior’s back-to-back 100-yard games were his first since accomplishing that against Massachusetts and Tennessee Tech in his freshman season.

But it took a lot of carries to get it done. The Badgers called Clement’s number a combined 60 times in the games against Ohio State and Iowa, and if it were up to him, they’d keep giving him the ball even if taking all that contact isn’t ideal in the long term.

“I’m all for it, to be honest,” Clement said. “If they want to give me 35 carries, then so be it. (It’s) my senior season, so I’m ready to get as many carries as I can.”

It’s not just Clement, though. The offensive line is also starting to gel despite not having a clear starting lineup. They used eight guys against Iowa and six different combinations. Obviously, they’d like to find their best five guys, but until they do expect to see similar rotations.

5) The crowd

The buzz leading into the showdown with then-No. 2 Ohio State two weeks ago was at an all-time high, certainly helped by the fact ESPN’s College GameDay was in town, and it was the first Big Ten night game in Madison in five years.  And even though the Badgers lost, the atmosphere surrounding the game didn’t disappoint.

But that same juice and electricity, at least in the lead up to the game, hasn’t been as evident this week. Perhaps it’s because the novelty factor of a night game has worn off or the fact Wisconsin is so heavily favored. No matter what the reason, it’s definitely different.

Now all of this isn’t to say it won’t be a great environment on Saturday night. It will be, and the crowd will definitely help Wisconsin. But expecting something like we saw when the Buckeyes came to town is probably not in the cards.

NUMBERS TO CONSIDER

  • Wisconsin’s defense has held their last 10 opponents under their season scoring average
  • The Badgers used eight different offensive linemen last week against Iowa and six different offensive line combinations
  • Wisconsin has outscored Nebraska 107 to 41 in their last two meetings at Camp Randall Stadium
  • In their last 13 trophy games, the Badgers are 12-1, including a perfect 2-0 against Nebraska in the battle for the Freedom Trophy

PREDICTIONS

Zach Heilprin’s prediction: Wisconsin 31, Nebraska 17 (3-4 on the season)
Ebo’s prediction: Wisconsin 27, Nebraska 13 (4-3 on the season)
Jake Zimmermann’s prediction: Wisconsin 24, Nebraska 13 (5-2 on the season)
Joe Miller’s prediction: Wisconsin 24, Nebraska 13 (4-3 on the season)
Eric Rogers’ prediction: Wisconsin 28, Nebraska 20 (5-2 on the season)

 

Wisconsin football: Practice report 8/17

MADISON | The Wisconsin offense just looks better with a healthy Corey Clement in the backfield. And that’s where the senior was on Wednesday afternoon as the Badgers held their 12th practice of fall camp.

It was just his second practice back after missing nearly a week with a hamstring injury, but the running back showed no ill effects, darting in and out of running lanes and showing the burst that makes him a special player.

“He makes us all look better,” running backs coach John Settle said after practice. “We’re trying to be smart. We’ve got him on a pitch count, so to speak. And he can’t understand that. He feels good, and he wants to just go, but it’s kind of hard to go from zero to a hundred. So we’re trying to slowly build him up, build his stamina up. We want him to get hit, knocked around. But the most important thing for us is September 3rd. We’ve got get him there healthy.”

That’s the day Wisconsin opens the season against LSU at Lambeau Field. And Clement understood it was the reason he had wait to return to practice, especially after pushing through a sports hernia a year ago and missing eight games as a result.

“You play for so long, you hate to keep watching,” Clement said. “All I did was watch almost half of last season. I got tired of it. But (we) just wanted to play it smart, get back healthy and keep practicing towards LSU.”

Having Clement in the backfield gives Wisconsin a game-breaker at the position, somebody that defenses have to worry about on every snap. Though Dare Ogunbowale gave them that ability in spurts last season, Clement is a danger whenever he gets his hands on the ball. And the Badgers coaching staff knows it.

“When he’s healthy, it’s a totally different speed and totally different athlete running down the field,” Settle said. “Any time he touches the ball he has big play ability. That’s what we all like about him. We don’t have to block all 11 to make something happen.”

Hear all of Clement’s comments to the media below:

 

Moving up

Several true freshmen have seen their fortunes improve in recent days, including nose guard Garrett Rand. Though undersized (285 pounds) for the position, Rand has jumped redshirt sophomore Jeremy Patterson and is now running with the No. 2 defense. The Arizona product is as physically ready to play as any first-year defensive lineman has been for the Badgers in at least the last 10 years.

Granted an extra year

According to UW officials, fullback Leon Jacobs has been granted a medical hardship waiver for last season, meaning he gets the year back and will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Jacobs suffered a foot injury in fall camp last year and reinjured it early in the season before he was shut down for the rest of the campaign. His absence revealed a lot of talent behind him at inside linebacker, so the the coaching staff decided to move him to offense in the spring.

“Leon’s one of those guys that has a good play and then has a bad play,” Settle said of Jacobs’ transition to fullback. “We understand he’s still young to the position.

“The thing I like about him is he’s blocking the right person, so assignment-wise he knows what to do and he knows who he has. Now we’ve got to clean him up technically.”

Injuries piling up

Wisconsin’s practices were closed on Tuesday, so when reporters got a look at the team on Wednesday the number of injuries had jumped a bit.

The newly added names included running back Dare Ogunbowale (leg) and fullback Alec Ingold (leg), while two projected starters – right tackle Jake Maxwell (leg) and left guard Dan Voltz (knee) – remained out for rest as they return from injuries.

Ogunbowale said he wasn’t really battling an injury as much as he was dealing with soreness following Monday’s scrimmage. He expects to return to the field on Thursday.

The full list:

Limited:
WR Jazz Peavy (chest) – Wore a yellow no contact jersey
S Keelon Brookins (groin)
LB Nick Thomas (head)
RB Taiwan Deal (arm) – Wore a yellow no contact jersey

Out
WR Quintez Cephus (leg)
OL Jon Dietzen (head)
LB T.J. Edwards (foot)
FB Alec Ingold (leg)
WR Henry Houden (head)
RB Dare Ogunbowale (leg)
OL George Panos (shoulder)
WR Kendric Pryor (arm)
FB Austin Ramesh (leg)
OL Logan Schmidt (head)
LB Mason Stokke (head)
OLB Jake Whalen (leg)