Wisconsin’s Jack Cichy declares for NFL Draft

MADISON — Wisconsin linebacker Jack Cichy announced that he will not petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility and instead has declared for the 2018 NFL Draft, he writes in The Players Tribune.

Cichy, a former walk-on, missed the final seven games of the 2016 season with a torn pectoral and all of the 2017 season with a torn ACL. He had high expectations nationally for this season, as he was named to several preseason watch lists, including for the Bednarik Award, Nagurski Award, and Lott IMPACT Trophy.

In his career he played in 25 games for Wisconsin, totaling 121 total tackles, including 15 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. Cichy was also named Defensive MVP for Wisconsin’s 2015 Holiday Bowl victory over USC. He had a team-high nine tackles and three sacks against the Trojans.

Cichy played as a true freshman in 2013 and then redshirted in 2014. After missing the entire 2017 season he would have been able to apply for a medical redshirt.

He was awarded a scholarship prior to the 2015 season.

B1G Championship preview: (4) Wisconsin vs (8) Ohio State

THE BASICS

The teams: The No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers (12-0, 9-0) vs the No. 8 Ohio State Buckeyes (10-2, 8-1)

The time: 7 p.m. CDT, Saturday

The place: Lucas Oil Field, Indianapolis, Ind.

The TV coverage: FOX with Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt in the booth, and Jenny Taft on the sideline.

The last time: No. 2 Ohio State came back from a 10-point halftime deficit to beat No. 8 Wisconsin in overtime 38-31 last October in Madison.

The series: Ohio State leads 58-18-5

The line: Ohio State -6

The Badgers injury report:

OUT

Game:

TE Luke Benzschawel (leg)
OLB Noah Burks (leg)

Season:

WR Quintez Cephus (leg)
S Patrick Johnson (arm)
RB Taiwan Deal (leg)
LB Jack Cichy (knee)
LB Zack Baun (foot)
RB Sam Brodner (knee)
LB Mason Stokke (leg)
TE Zander Neuville (leg)
RB Bradrick Shaw (leg)

THE BREAKDOWN: FOUR THINGS TO WATCH

1) Biggest game in school history

It may seem like hyperbole, but Saturday night’s game is the biggest in Wisconsin football history. A win against one of the blue bloods of the sport would give the Badgers their first Big Ten title since 2012, almost surely punch their ticket to the College Football Playoff and leave them just two victories short of the school’s first national championship. A loss wouldn’t make the season a failure, but it would be looked at as a missed opportunity to make a splash the rest of the country couldn’t ignore, one that would force the doubters to at least respect what the program has become. This is not the first time Wisconsin has been in position to make that statement but it’s certainly its best and something the Badgers can’t let fall by the wayside.

2) Containing J.T. Barrett

The big story this week has been the knee injury to Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, the one that knocked him out in the third quarter of last week’s game at Michigan. The senior reportedly had arthroscopic surgery on the knee on Sunday, but coach Urban Meyer is expecting him to play. If he does, then it becomes vital for the Wisconsin defense to keep him in the pocket. In last season’s game, Barrett was Ohio State’s leading rusher with 92 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns. It’s not that he can’t beat you with his arm — he can — but if you’re Wisconsin, you want to force him to show it again.

3) No turnovers

Wisconsin is a bit of anomaly this season. You don’t normally see an unbeaten team like the Badgers turn the ball over as much as they do. They rank No. 97 in the country with 21 turnovers and there are only three FBS teams with a winning record that have more than that. It’s not an every player problem. In fact, it’s mainly a two player issue — quarterback Alex Hornibrook and running back Jonathan Taylor. The duo has accounted for 18 of the 21 turnovers this year. Wisconsin’s defense has been able to erase many of those mistakes, but you sure don’t want to put them in that position against the most explosive offense the Badgers have faced this year.

4) Redemption

When people hear the term redemption in regards to this game, most probably think of the 59-0 shellacking that Ohio State delivered to Wisconsin in the 2014 title game. But they would be wrong. Sure, that one hurt, but that game was over almost as soon as it started. No, the game the Badgers want (need?) redemption for is the 2016 title game when they blew a 28-7 lead to Penn State and lost 38-31. A defense that was so good all year, got exposed with big plays down the field and some brilliance from All-American running back Saquon Barkley. Nearly all of Wisconsin’s defenders from that game are still around and have told the media this week they believe they learned some valuable lessons as a result of that collapse. We could see if that’s true on Saturday night.

NUMBERS TO CONSIDER

Wisconsin is an underdog for the first time in 20 games. The last time the Badgers weren’t favored was the Buckeyes visit to Camp Randall Stadium last October.

Current or former walk-ons have combined for 862 yards of total offense, seven touchdowns, 117 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, four sacks and four interceptions this season for Wisconsin.

The Badgers are allowing just 236.9 yards per game, the lowest mark by a Wisconsin team since 1954.

Hype videos

A couple of the better hype videos to get you ready for the game:

ZONE PREDICTIONS

Zach Heilprin’s prediction: Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 21
Ebo’s prediction: Wisconsin 27, Ohio State 24
Joe Miller’s prediction: Wisconsin 24, Ohio State 21
Danny Cunningham’s prediction: Wisconsin 24, Ohio State 21

NATIONAL PREDICTIONS

Wisconsin (14)

Eric Single, SI.com: Wisconsin
Molly Geary, SI.com: Wisconsin
Andy Staples, SI.com: Wisconsin
Joan Niesen, SI.com: Wisconsin
Paul Myerberg, USA Today: Wisconsin
George Schroeder, USA Today: Wisconsin
Erick Smith, USA Today: Wisconsin
Eddie Timanus, USA Today: Wisconsin
Dan Wolken, USA Today: Wisconsin
Corby Davidson, Sportsday: Wisconsin
Rich Cirminiello, College Football News: Wisconsin
Jeff Feyerer, College Football News: Wisconsin
Pete Fiutak, College Football News: Wisconsin
Mitch Light, Athlon Sports: Wisconsin

Ohio State (18)

Edward Aschoff, ESPN: Ohio State
Zac Al-Khateeb, Sporting News: Ohio State
Tom Fornelli, CBS Sports: Ohio State
Bruce Feldman, SI.com: Ohio State
Chris Johnson, SI.com: Ohio State
Scooby Axson, SI.com: Ohio State
Jace Evans, USA Today: Ohio State
Ben Baby, Sportsday: Ohio State
Scott Bells, Sportsday: Ohio State
Chuck Carlton, Sportsday: Ohio State
Adam Grosbard, Sportsday: Ohio State
Ric Renner, Sportsday: Ohio State
Newy Scruggs, Sportsday: Ohio State
Kevin Sherrington, Sportsday: Ohio State
Brett Vito, Sportsday: Ohio State
Ralph Russo, Associated Press: Ohio State
Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports: Ohio State
Bryan Bischer, Athlon Sports: Ohio State

Paul Chryst named Big Ten Coach of the Year

MADISON – Wisconsin football coach Paul Chryst was named the Big Ten Dave McClain / Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year, the conference announced.

Chryst led Wisconsin to the program’s first ever 12-0 regular season en route to a Big Ten West Championship and a berth in the Big Ten Championship on December 2 in Indianapolis.

Chryst is a repeat winner, having win the award as voted on by the coaches in 2016. Penn State’s James Franklin won the media vote that season. This is the fifth time Wisconsin’s head coach has won the award.

Since taking over the program prior to the 2015 season, Chryst has a record of 33-6. Chryst has a career record of 52-25 as a head coach including his three-year run at Pitt.

Chryst joins Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez as the only coaches to win the award multiple times in Wisconsin history. Bret Bielema won the award in the 2006 season.

Three keys to Wisconsin beating Minnesota

MADISON – Saturday afternoon against Minnesota the Wisconsin Badgers will look to control Paul Bunyan’s Axe for the 14th consecutive season. Wisconsin’s last loss to Minnesota came in the 2003 season when they fell to the Gophers 37-34 on a Rhys Lloyd 35-yard field goal as time expired. In 2004 the Badgers handily beat the Gophers 38-14, and they haven’t lost in the rivalry since.

Here are three keys to victory for the Badgers to keep Paul Bunyan’s Axe in Madison for the 14th straight season:

1. Run the football – It’s no secret that Wisconsin wants to run the football effectively in each and every week. They boast one of the country’s best running backs in freshman Jonathan Taylor. He’s currently third in the country in rushing yards with 1,657 on the season. Taylor has been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week a record-tying seven time. A big game against the Gophers could give him sole possession of that record.

Minnesota’s defense hasn’t exactly been stout against the run. They’ve given up over four yards per carry. That is quite the difference after Taylor rushed for 132 yards against one of the country’s best rushing defenses last week against Michigan. Taylor could be poised for another big game in his first taste of this rivalry. Look for him to have his ninth 100-yard game, and possibly his fourth game of over 200 yards.

2. Limit mistakes – In nearly every upset that occurs in college football, the underdog team is able to win the turnover battle. Wisconsin has made quite a few mistakes, but been consistently bailed out by an outstanding defense. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook has thrown 13 interceptions on the season, which is tied for third most in the country. He’s thrown an interception in each of the Badgers’ eight Big Ten wins.

This would be an excellent time for Hornibrook to play his best game of the season and build a bit of momentum before the Badgers head to Indianapolis to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Big Ten Championship game. The defense will likely be able to bail out Hornibrook if necessary this weekend, but the Buckeyes are a different story.

3. Follow the plan – Wisconsin has stuck to the same plan in nearly all of their games this season. Things have been close in the first half. They’ve had an opportunity to feel out their opponent, the defense has been strong and the game has been close. The second half of games is where the Badgers have dominated, only trailing for 8:49 in the second half this season. They only other game this season in which they trailed during the second half this year was the Big Ten opening matchup with Northwestern.

If the game is close heading into the second half, as it should be, Wisconsin will find themselves in very comfortable territory and likely to pull away. It would be even better if they took control a little earlier this week. Wisconsin is the more talented team, but anything can happen in rivalry games.

Prediction: Wisconsin completes their first ever 12-0 season with a 38-13 win to keep Paul Bunyan’s Axe in Madison for at least one more year.

Bo Ryan talks Wisconsin and the Hall of Fame

MADISON — Former Wisconsin basketball coach Bo Ryan will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame  this week in Kansas City.

Despite watching a lot of basketball, and golfing even more, Ryan took a few minutes out of his morning to talk with the Joe & Ebo Show on some of his favorite career memories, what he’s seen from the Badgers and the honor of getting into the Hall of Fame.

Take a listen below to hear from the all-time winningest coach in Wisconsin men’s basketball history:

Jonathan Taylor’s unexpected freshman breakout

MADISON, Wis. — When running back Jonathan Taylor arrived on the University of Wisconsin campus this summer, he didn’t expect to be this successful this soon. No one expected him to ascend as quickly as he has. When Taylor came to Madison, he wasn’t supposed to be one of the best freshman in the entire country.

Seven games into the season, he’s just that.

Taylor has started to do things that aren’t supposed to be done by freshmen, and that’s caused him to garner attention that most first-year players don’t get. This past week Taylor was named second-team midseason All-American by the Associated Press, the best freshman in the country by the same outlet, and placed fifth in this week’s Heisman Trophy rankings from Sports Illustrated’s Bruce Feldman.

This wasn’t expected by fans, media, or even Taylor himself.

“I just wanted to get on the field. You love the game, so you want to play as much as possible. I just wanted to get on the field.” Taylor said.

Taylor has earned all of the accolades given to him, and he still might not be talked about enough. He’s been one of, if not the most impressive parts of a team that is 7-0 and ranked fifth as November approaches.

The Badgers have leaned on the young Salem, N.J. native much like they leaned on another young back from the Garden State a little more than 20 years ago. Ron Dayne starred for Wisconsin from 1996-1999, winning the Heisman Trophy in his final season in Madison. While he won the honor as a senior, the argument could be had that his most productive season was his first on campus. Dayne finished that year with 2,109 yards and 21 touchdowns on 325 carries, good for 6.5 yards per carry.

The two have more in common than just playing running back for the Badgers, with both coming from similar parts of New Jersey.

“I actually met Ron [Dayne] on my official visit.” Taylor said. “That was the first time I met him. He was just asking me about how my recruiting process was going and he started asking me how it was in Jersey. It wasn’t really about football, he was just asking me how I was doing. The only question about football that he asked me was how my [recruiting] process was going.”

During the first quarter of Wisconsin’s Week 8 matchup against Maryland, Taylor tied an NCAA record for fewest games needed to reach the 1000-yard mark as a freshman. He tied legendary names such as Emmitt Smith (Florida), Adrian Peterson (Oklahoma), Marshall Faulk (San Diego State), and Wisconsin’s own P.J. Hill, who did it most recently in 2006.

Most notably of those names, Taylor was most excited to join Peterson on that list.

“Running backs I really watched growing up were Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster. I really liked those two guys. Peterson was just a monster.” Taylor said the week before he tied the former Sooners’ record.

Taylor has done things freshmen very rarely do. He’s been one of the best first-year backs the Big Ten has seen in the last decade, if not longer. By talking to him, one wouldn’t know. Taylor isn’t one to talk about his accomplishments, and routinely raves how great his offensive line is whenever he’s asked about his success.

He’s not lying. His offensive line has been great so far this year, but that’s not the only reason for the success of this back. His maturity helps his cause. That’s always one of the first things that his teammates and coaches bring up when Taylor’s name is mentioned.

“There’s a bunch of things that are impressive,” quarterback Alex Hornibrook said. “Obviously, how he plays on the field. But I think, for me, just seeing him the way he holds himself, in the huddle, on the sidelines, before games, he’s just calm and confident.”

Those aren’t words that are used to describe most teenagers that perform in front of nearly 80,000 screaming fans on Saturday afternoons. Then again, Taylor isn’t like most teenagers. Obviously, there are some similarities to a normal high school graduate who moves away to college. Taylor’s life has changed more than the average student. It’s an adjustment for anyone to go from a small high school of roughly 300 students to one of the country’s largest universities. Pair that with being a star on campus, and it can be a lot to handle. Taylor, though, takes everything in stride.

“Living in Madison, it’s always busy,” Taylor said. “In my city [back home] it’s very small. Living in a town like this, there’s always something to do. It’s very busy. Some nice spots here, like the Memorial [Union], we don’t have anything like that where [I’m from]. I love going out there and just sitting [by] the lake.”

People take notice of who the running back is around campus, but Taylor doesn’t see that as a big deal.

“Now, people come up and say nice game and ask to take a picture or something like that,” he said.

He’s adjusted well to the fame and success. That’s been the ideal scenario for both himself and the Badgers. The way he and the Badgers are seeing results on the field, the level of fame and success is only going to rise from here.

Wisconsin releases depth chart ahead of season opener

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin football team opens the season on Friday night, and on Sunday the team released its official two-deep depth chart.

Among the noteworthy decisions are the inclusion of four true freshmen slated to get reps in the two-deep: LS Adam Bay (starter), QB Jack Coan (backup), WR Danny Davis (backup), RB Jonathan Taylor (committee).

With Jack Cichy out for the year with a torn ACL, Ryan Connelly and T.J. Edwards will get the start at the two inside linebacker spots. Hawaii transfer Nick Nelson will supersede Jazz Peavy as the main punt returner, while A.J. Taylor will take the majority of the kick returns over Chris James.

You can see how the depth chart compares to Zach Heilprin’s predictions here.

OFFENSE
QB | Alex Hornibrook, Jack Coan
RB | Bradrick Shaw OR Chris James OR Jonathan Taylor
FB | Austin Ramesh, Alec Ingold
WR | Jazz Peavy, A.J. Taylor
WR | Quintez Cephus, Dannby Davis
TE | Troy Fumagalli, Kyle Penniston/Zander Neuville
LT | Michael Deiter, Cole Van Lanen
LG | Jon Dietzen, Micah Kapoi
C | Tyler Biadasz, Brett Connors
RG | Beau Benzschawel, Jason Erdmann/David Moorman
RT | David Edwards, Patrick Kasl

DEFENSE
DE | Alec James, Chikwe Obasih
NT | Olive Sagapolu, Garrett Rand
DE | Conor Sheehy, Isaahh Loudermilk
OLB | Garret Dooley, Andrew Van Ginkel
ILB | Ryan Connelly, Arrington Farrar
ILB | T.J. Edwards, Chris Orr
OLB | Leon Jacobs, Tyler Johnson
CB | Derrick Tindal, Dontye Carriere-Williams
SS | D’Cota Dixon, Joe Ferguson
FS | Natrell Jamerson, Patrick Johnson
CB | Nick Nelson, Lubern Figaro

SPECIAL TEAMS
P | Anthony Lotti, Connor Allen
FG | Rafael Gaglianone, Zach Hintze
KO | P.J. Rosowski, Zach Hintze
LS | Adam Bay, Josh Bernhagen
H | Connor Allen, P.J. Rosowski
PR | Nick Nelson, Jazz Peavy
KR | A.J. Taylor, Chris James

Wisconsin, UCLA set home-and-home series for 2029, 2030

MADISON — Wisconsin has added another Power 5 team to its future schedule.

The school announced Tuesday a home-and-home matchup with UCLA in 2029 and 2030, with the first game taking place at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., and the second one in Madison at Camp Randall Stadium.

“UCLA is one of the premier programs in college football,” Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said in a statement. “We had some memorable bowl games when I was on the sidelines but this is a great opportunity for us to play them at Camp Randall. Non-conference scheduling is always a challenge but the folks at UCLA have been great to deal with and we look forward to the series.”

Unless they face each other in a bowl game before 2029, it will be the school’s first time playing since the 2000 Sun Bowl, a victory for the Badgers. Wisconsin also beat the Bruins in the 1999 and 1994 Rose Bowls. Overall, the teams have played 11 times with UCLA owning a 7-4 record.

The addition of the Bruins to the schedule comes just more than a week after the school announced a series against Notre Dame in 2020 at Lambeau Field and 2021 at Soldier Field.

Here is the rundown of non-conference Power 5 opponents now on Wisconsin’s future schedules:

Notre Dame – 2020, 2021
Syracuse – 2020, 2021
Washington State – 2022, 2023
Virginia Tech – 2024, 2025
UCLA — 2029, 2030

Wisconsin falls to Melbourne United on late 3-pointer

MELBOURNE, Australia — The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team faced its first test of adversity on the international trip, falling 90-89 to Melbourne United Saturday night on a late 3-point shot.

The Badgers were 3-0 on their foreign exhibition tour, seemingly on their way to a fourth win after grabbing a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. But Melbourne’s Jerry Evans sank a 3-pointer from the corner with 2.4 seconds left to leave Wisconsin in shock.

“We were in situations throughout the game that we haven’t been in,” Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard told UWBadgers.com. “End of game and quarter situations, foul trouble we had to deal with. We did a lot of learning, which is exactly why you come on trips like this, to put yourself in some adverse situations and see how guys react on the fly.”

Wisconsin rallied from a 14-point second quarter deficit by scoring on 11 of its first 12 possessions to start the second half. That included scoring 32 points on 17 possessions in the third quarter.

It’s been a youth movement for the Badgers, who were led in the loss by 19 points from D’Mitrik Trice, 18 points from Kobe King, followed by Ethan Happ with 14.

“You have to learn from wins and losses,” Happ said after the loss. “The biggest thing is, we need to slow down when they’re making their run. We need to slow down on both ends where we need to hone in and get a stop or we need to hone in and get a bucket at the rim. We need to play inside-out down the stretch and make more plays.”

The Badgers failed to make it a two-possession game down the stretch. Their final two possessions included a shot clock violation and a partially blocked shot from Brevin Pritzl, for what would have been the winning basket.

The five-game tour concludes Tuesday against the Sydney Kings at 2:30 a.m. CT.

Brevin Pritzl scores 27 in win over New Zealand Breakers

AUCKLAND — The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team started the five-game international series with an 85-75 exhibition win over the New Zealand Breakers.

Sophomore guard Brevin Pritzl led the Badgers with 27 points on the way to victory, supported by 17 points from junior center Ethan Happ. Freshman guard Brad Davison added 13. Wisconsin and New Zealand were tied 57-57 heading into the final quarter, where UW pulled away, outscoring the Breakers 28-18.

Wisconsin will have a day off before facing Tauranga City Basketball Thursday at 1:30 a.m. CT. The Badgers will play their final three games in Australia against Hawthorn Magic, Melbourne United, and Sydney Kings.

https://twitter.com/BadgerMBB/status/896387353392156672