4-star guard Tyler Herro de-commits from Wisconsin

MADISON — The Wisconsin basketball program took a major hit Tuesday with the de-commitment of Tyler Herro.

The 4-star guard, committed to the Badgers for more than a year, announced on Twitter that he was reopening his recruitment.

“I would like to thank the Wisconsin coaching staff for all the time they have spent on me, all the opportunities they have given me, and most importantly, all the faith they have put in me over the past thirteen months. Wisconsin basketball is a first class program that is lead by a first class coach.

After a lot of conversations with my family and prayer, I have decided to reopen my recruitment and explore all of my options. The past year since I committed I have grown not only as a basketball player, but as a person. My drive to become the best on all levels has been the fuel that drove this decision.

I want to thank the Badger fans for their constant support over the years. I wish the University of Wisconsin nothing but the best. The state of Wisconsin has always treated me with tremendous support and I will always call Wisconsin my home. I am not asking anyone to like my decision, but to respect it. I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my life and thanks again for your continued support.”

Herro was on Wisconsin’s campus as recently as two weeks ago when he took his official visit and spent time recruiting 2020 wing Jalen Johnson from Sun Prairie.

Ranked as the No. 2 player in the state in the 2018 class, Herro had offers from a myriad of programs before he committed, including Florida, Arizona, Indiana and others. According to Evan Flood of 247Sports, among the teams that will be in the running for Herro include North Carolina, Kentucky and Kansas.

His de-commitment, leaves Wisconsin with just one player in the Class of 2018 — center Joe Hedstrom from Hopkins, Minnesota.

Wisconsin puts two on midseason AP All-American teams

MADISON — 18 months ago David Edwards was a former high school quarterback playing tight end for Wisconsin. On Tuesday, the Associated Press named him a midseason first-team All-American at right tackle for the Badgers.

The sophomore was one of four Big Ten players to make the list and the only one from Wisconsin. Edwards has started the last 13 games for the Badgers, taking over midway through 2016. With his help, the Wisconsin running game is tops in the Big Ten and ranked 13th in the country at 263.8 yards per game.

Earning second-team All-American recognition was running back Jonathan Taylor. The true freshman is third in the country in rushing at 164.3 yards per game, and he’s gone over 200 yards three times in the first six games.

Edwards and Taylor will try to help the fifth-ranked Badgers move to 7-0 for the first time since 2004 when they take on Maryland this Saturday.

Click here for the full AP team.

Pair of Badgers take home Big Ten honors

MADISON, WI | Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor and linebacker Leon Jacobs each took home Big Ten honors for their performances against Purdue in week seven. Taylor took home the Big Ten Freshman of the Week while Jacobs was the recipient of Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week.

Against Purdue Taylor ran for 219 yards and a touchdown on a career-high 30 carries this week in Wisconsin’s 17-9 win over Purdue. He also made his first career reception, a 17-yard grab on a screen pass in the first quarter.

The performance against Purdue marked the third time that Taylor has eclipsed the 200-yard mark this season. He currently sits at 986 yards rushing on the year, just 14 shy of the 1000-yard mark. He is the sixth freshman since 2000 to have three or more games of 200-plus rushing yards in a season. Taylor becomes the first to accomplish this since Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine in 2014, and the first Big Ten freshman to do so since Northwestern’s Tyrell Sutton in 2005.

In his three career Big Ten games, Taylor is averaging 183 yards per contest. For the season, he’s averaging 164.3 yards per game, and has scored 10 touchdowns.

Taylor has taken home Freshman of the Week three times, to go along with two Offensive Player of the Week awards on the season.

Jacobs lead the team defensively with a season-high nine tackles on the day. He also had an interception in the fourth quarter, which ultimately ended Purdue’s last offensive possession at Wisconsin’s 11-yard-line. That was the second career interception for the San Pedro, CA native. Following his interception the Badgers were able to control the ball for the final 8:14 of the game against Purdue.

This is the first career Defensive Player of the Week honor for Jacobs. He becomes Wisconsin’s second Defensive Player of the Week in 2017, joining safety Natrell Jamerson, who won the award following Wisconsin’s win over Northwestern earlier this season.

Fifth-ranked Wisconsin is back in action Saturday at home against Maryland.

Wisconsin didn’t play well, but with top-10 teams falling elsewhere, the win is all that matters

MADISON, Wis.| On the surface, a 17-9 win over Purdue is far from impressive. The Boilermakers are clearly tougher under new coach Jeff Brohm and continued to fight despite falling behind by two scores in the first half, but it’s still a program that has been at the bottom of the Big Ten for more than a decade. That said, after what happened all over the college football world this weekend, the Badgers should take their 6-0 record and run. Because while four top-10 teams fell to unranked opponents, and a total of five unbeaten clubs picked up their first losses of the season, coach Paul Chryst and company are off to the school’s best start since 2011.

Why did they avoid the pitfalls the others could not? Because they made the necessary plays that the likes of No. 2 Clemson and No. 4 Washington could not against double-digit underdogs. Whether it was Leon Jacobs’ clutch fourth-quarter interception, or redshirt freshman Kendric Pryor converting a key third-down with his first career catch or sophomore Quintez Cephus pushing his way through two defenders on another third down to help keep Wisconsin’s final drive going, the Badgers came through at the most important times. Wisconsin found ways to win that others did not.

After the game, though, fans took to social media and post-game radio shows to bemoan how Wisconsin won, including being critical of the Badgers inability to finish possessions and the play of quarterback Alex Hornibrook. And it’s easy to see why they complain, considering the offense rolled up 494 yards yet scored just 17 points, while the angst over Hornibrook’s struggles in Big Ten play grew as the day went on, with the sophomore throwing two more interceptions, bringing his total to five in the last three games. Those are legitimate gripes, but they come on the same weekend in which seven top-25 teams fell and the number of unbeaten teams went from 13 to eight.

There were others worried that efforts like Saturday will haunt Wisconsin when it comes time for the College Football Playoff committee to choose its four teams, but that’s foolish. The Badgers only path into the playoff is to win all of their games. It was that way before the season, and it’s even more evident now. 6-0 is 6-0 no matter how they got there.

So, again, when you turn the ball over three times, commit eight debilitating penalties and get a punt blocked, yet still come out on top, you take that win and run. Yes, you acknowledge your mistakes and work to get better, but you don’t have to apologize to anyone. On this weekend, a win was a win.

Wisconsin’s defense comes up big in win over Purdue

MADISON, Wis. | As afternoon turned to evening Saturday the Wisconsin Badgers improved to 6-0 on the season, defeating Purdue 17-9 at a soaked Camp Randall Stadium.

Much like the weather, the game between the Badgers and Boilermakers was ugly throughout. Wisconsin was able to beat Purdue for a 12th straight time thanks to its defense overcoming those adverse conditions and the difficult situations they routinely found themselves in.

On a weekend where college football saw two top-10 teams lose to unranked opponents on Friday, and several more unbeaten teams fall on Saturday, Wisconsin saw a plethora of things go wrong offensively, yet came out with the win because the Badgers did so much well defensively.

A pair of Alex Hornibrook interceptions, a fumble by Jonathan Taylor and a blocked punt forced the Badgers to step up defensively to keep them ahead in the game. That challenge was met. The unit is at the point where they expect to not only win games, but be the reason the team can win in an ugly fashion, the way they did Saturday.

As far as being able to succeed in stressful situations, that’s something the defense has shown they can be counted on for.

“We most definitely take pride in it as soon as we take the field and we’re in that position,” linebacker Chris Orr said following the win. “Everybody is saying ‘They don’t get in the end zone’ or ‘They only leave [with] three at the most.’ It’s most definitely something we take pride in.”

Purdue came away with two field goals in four red zone trips on the day. Their other two trips ended in a Leon Jacobs interception and a missed field goal. Both red zone stops the Badgers got could not have come at a better time for the team.

After the Badgers were forced to punt from their own 47-yard-line, punter Anthony Lotti had his kick blocked by Purdue’s Garrett Hudson. The ball was then scooped up by Race Johnson of the Boilermakers and returned 18 yards. Johnson had a clear path to the end zone, however he came up injured on the play and fell to the turf at Wisconsin’s 15-yard-line.

That was the break the Badgers needed. Over the next four plays, they pushed the Boilermakers back 10 yards, to the 25-yard-line. It was from that spot that kicker JD Dellinger missed the 42-yard attempt.

The other crucial possession came late in the game. After Wisconsin went three-and-out deep in its own territory, the Badgers were forced to punt the ball back to Purdue, holding a 17-9 lead. Elijah Sindelar drove the Boilermakers down the field, reaching the Wisconsin 7-yard line before Jacobs made Sindelar pay for poor decision and throw, coming up with the interception.

“I thought he was throwing it away,” Orr said. “I saw Leon [Jacobs] and the receiver and first I thought, because [Jacob’s] got frying pans for hands, he was going to drop it. But he caught it.

“That was probably the biggest play of the day. Definitely sealed the game for us defensively.”

Wisconsin entered the game ranked No. 8 in the country in red zone defense, allowing teams to score on just 66.7 percent of the ventures inside the 20. The Badgers were even better on Saturday.

“It’s just attitude,” Orr said. “You have to tell yourself and tell your teammates, ‘They’re not going to get in the end zone no matter what. We’re going to fight, claw, scratch battle.’”

Coach Paul Chryst thought the defense was the biggest reason the Badgers were able to come out on top.

“I thought our defense was sensational,” Chryst said.

Another impressive part of the second-half defensive effort was that it came without star linebacker T.J. Edwards. The junior was ejected from the game on a targeting call shortly before halftime. It was tough to lose a leader like Edwards, but the defense was able to rally around his absence.

“Obviously, it sucks losing a linebacker like T.J. [Edwards],” linebacker Garrett Dooley said following the game. “Great player, great leader, but the good news is we have other inside linebackers who have proven to make plays and step up in big spots.”

Before leaving the field, Edwards was able to have one last act of leadership for the day.

“[Edwards] just said, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing. I know you guys are going to keep balling out there and win this game,’” Dooley said.

Just like a great defense does, the Badgers overcame all the adversity that was thrown at them against Purdue. That’s something that cannot be overstated for this unbeaten squad.

Preview: (7) Wisconsin vs Purdue

THE BASICS

The teams: The No. 7 Wisconsin Badgers (5-0, 2-0) vs the Purdue Boilermakers (3-2, 1-1)

The time: 2:30 p.m. CDT, Saturday

The place: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wis.

The TV coverage: BTN with Kevin Kugler and Matt Millen in the booth, and Lisa Byington on the sideline.

The last time: Wisconsin scored 35 points in the second quarter on its way to a 49-20 win at Purdue last November.

The series: Wisconsin leads 47-29-8

The line: Wisconsin -17.5

The Badgers injury report:

QUESTIONABLE

OL Jon Dietzen (leg)
OL Micah Kapoi (leg)
K P.J. Rosowski (leg)

OUT

Game:

RB Taiwan Deal (leg)
RB Chris James (leg)
S Patrick Johnson (arm)
DE Chikwe Obasih (knee)
WR Jazz Peavy (leg)
WR George Rushing (leg)

Season:

LB Jack Cichy (knee)
LB Zack Baun (foot)
RB Sam Brodner (knee)
LB Mason Stokke (leg)

THE BREAKDOWN: FIVE THINGS TO WATCH

1) Avoid complacency

No one thought Wisconsin would be focusing on anything other than its matchup with Purdue this weekend, but if someone was, that’s not the case anymore. Not after a pair of undefeated teams — No. 2 Clemson and No. 8 Washington State — were upset by double-digit underdogs on Friday. The Tigers lost at Syracuse as 24-point favorites, while the Cougars fell at California as 16.5-point underdogs.

It was a strong message to all top-10 teams that they aren’t invincible and that includes Wisconsin. So despite Saturday marking the start of a four-game stretch against teams that the Badgers have owned of late, including winning 11 straight over the Boilermakers, they must handle their business against Purdue, Maryland, Illinois and Indiana to put themselves in position for something truly special come November and beyond.

2) Detail orriented

Purdue knows it can’t win a straight up slugfest against Wisconsin. Heck, there may not be a team in the Big Ten that can lineup and play smash-mouth football with this year’s Badgers. That means new Purdue coach Jeff Brohm will likely resort to the unexpected and trick plays here and there. It makes Wisconsin’s attention to details and staying disciplined that much more vital for the defense’s success.

3) The weather

The forecast keeps changing, but rain is expected throughout the day in Madison and that could lead to a sloppy game. Obviously, turnovers are always a concern in this type of weather and Purdue can attest to that, coughing the ball up four times last week against Minnesota in a game that was impacted significantly by rain and even delayed by lightning. The Badgers haven’t been great at protecting the ball in the best of conditions — they’ve turned the ball over eight times in five games — so they’ll need to take extra care on Saturday.

4) More Jonathan Taylor please

Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor is among the most exciting true freshmen to ever come through Wisconsin and everyone can’t wait to see what the New Jersey product has in store after rushing for 249 yards and two touchdowns against Nebraska last week. Purdue ranks 66th in the country against the run, giving up an average of 151 yards per game — or three yards less than what Taylor is averaging on his own. Another big week could be at hand.

5) Preparing for two quarterbacks

Sophomore Elijah Sindelar is expected to get the start on Saturday, but junior David Blough will see plenty of time as well. Both quarterbacks are capable of airing it out, and defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard said that the offense doesn’t change based on who’s in. Last week, Nebraska’s offensive line gave Tanner Lee time to throw and he had success at times throwing for 262 yards. Expect Wisconsin to try and turn up the pressure and force Sindelar and Blough into mistakes just like they did a year ago in the 49-20 win in West Lafayette.

NUMBERS TO CONSIDER

Taylor, who has topped 200 yards twice already this year, needs 233 yards to get to 1,000 for the season. If he does, he’ll tie Melvin Gordon for the fewest games (6) to reach that mark in a season.

Wisconsin’s defense has outscored opposing offenses 18-14 by itself in the second half of games this year. (via UW Athletic Communications)

With 10 touchdowns already this season, quarterback Alex Hornibrook is on pace to throw the second-most touchdowns in school history, trailing only Russell Wilson’s 33 in 2011.

PREDICTIONS

Zach Heilprin’s prediction: Wisconsin 35, Purdue 16 (5-0 on the season, 3-2 against the spread)
Ebo’s prediction: Wisconsin 33, Purdue 13 (5-0 on the season, 3-2 against the spread)
Joe Miller’s prediction: Wisconsin 31, Purdue 13 (5-0 on the season, 3-2 against the spread)

Wisconsin Football Roundtable: Oct. 13, 2017

Former Badgers Anthony Davis, Matt Bernstein and Gabe Carimi join us weekly on the Wisconsin Football Roundtable.

This week the guys take a look back at the win over Nebraska, the play of running back Jonathan Taylor, look ahead to Northwestern and tell us what game on Wisconsin’s schedule scares them the most.

Leg injury expected to keep Wisconsin RB Chris James out of action against Purdue

MADISON — It appears as though Wisconsin will be without running back Chris James on Saturday against Purdue.

A post on the junior’s Snapchat account read, “Not playing this week but I know [my] brothers will take care of business.”

James was listed as questionable with a leg injury on the report the team released Thursday. He left last week’s game against Nebraska in the first half and did not return. Through five games, the Pittsburgh transfer has tallied 148 yards rushing and 36 yards receiving.

With James not expected to play, graduate transfer Rachid Ibrahim figures to see more time as he takes over as Wisconsin’s third-down back. In relief of James against the Huskers, Ibrahim ran seven times for 51 yards, and on the season he’s got 102 yards on 21 carries.

Wisconsin already ruled wide receiver Jazz Peavy out for the game with a leg injury.

The 2004 Wisconsin-Purdue game proved to be turning point for both programs

MADISON — It’s been nearly 13 years since Robert Brooks’ knee knocked the football from Kyle Orton’s grasp late in the fourth quarter of a top-10 matchup, but the moment remains an important piece of history in the story of two football programs. One — Wisconsin — that would go on to great things after Scott Starks picked that loose ball up and returned it for a game-winning touchdown. The other — Purdue — would go into a funk that it has yet to emerge from.

It was third-and-3 with 2:49 left in the game and a first down likely would have sealed a 17-14 victory for the No. 5 Boilermakers. All eyes were on Ross-Ade Stadium that afternoon seeing as it was hosting a pair of 6-0 teams and ESPN’s College GameDay was in town. The only thing the late Joe Tiller and Purdue needed was three yards to put themselves on a path to a Big Ten title and potentially more.

That didn’t happen, of course.

The words that night of Wisconsin’s play-by-play man, Matt Lepay, tell the story of what took place, while at the same time unknowingly describing the exact moment one school set its bright future in motion and the other its slide into irrelevance.

“Here’s the snap…here’s the boot to the right…Orton on the run…gets the first down…as he got helicoptered…ball is loose…Badgers have it…here comes Starks…at the 20, at the 10, at the five…touchdown, Wisconsin!”

It was, as ESPN’s Mark Jones pointed out as Starks was getting mobbed in the end zone by his teammates, a “cataclysmic turn of events.” While he meant that game specifically, it proved to be more than just that.

Wisconsin would turn its victory into a 9-4 season, and after going just 9-17 in the Big Ten from 2001 to 2003, the Badgers have gone 79-33 in conference play since Orton’s fumble. They’ve won three Big Ten championships, three division titles, are currently positioned as the No. 7 team in the country and are the overwhelming favorite to go to the conference title game for a fifth time in its seven-year existence.

Purdue, though, never recovered, losing its next three games in 2004 and not challenging for a Big Ten title since. In fact, since the ball squirted free from Orton’s clutches, the Boilermakers are 32-73 in the conference and have just one winning season. Prior to that year, they had four in their last seven seasons under Tiller, including a berth in the 2001 Rose Bowl.

“They were having another one of those storybook seasons,” former Wisconsin running back Anthony Davis said this week on the Wisconsin Football Roundtable. “To lose that way on that night, that derailed them. That definitely derailed them that season and possibly their program. These types of games have a lasting impact.

“They haven’t put it together since [then].”

It was a monumental shift, one that essentially ended Orton’s Heisman Trophy chances, something he didn’t soon forget. According to several former players, Orton went out of his way to ignore them at a variety of events in the months and years after the game.

“I can remember seeing Kyle Orton afterwards at different functions and that guy would not speak to us,” said Davis, who ran for 66 yards and a touchdown that night. “He would not look in our direction. He got off the elevator one time. We were on the elevator, he got off the elevator. Wouldn’t ride the elevator with us. He just despised us after that.”

If Orton had known what would become of the Purdue program, one that let Tiller go in 2008, sent his replacement, Danny Hope, packing in 2012, and then fired his successor, Darrell Hazell, last year, he probably would have been even more upset with the Badgers, who certainly aren’t apologizing.

“It was a great feeling,” Davis said of Orton giving them the cold shoulder.

But there is optimism in West Lafayette this year, more so than at any point under Hope or Hazell. Former Western Kentucky coach Jeff Brohm has brought energy and toughness to the Boilermakers, who are 3-2 as they prepare for a visit to Wisconsin on Saturday. The two losses came against ranked teams and were tight affairs for the most part, with Brohm’s group losing by a touchdown to Louisville in the opener and leading Michigan at halftime before losing 28-10.

Those games, even though they were losses, have some believing that Brohm is the man that can help bring back the excitement around the program last seen in the early 2000s. Heck, a win Saturday against a top-10 Wisconsin team could very well be looked back at in a few years and pointed to as the day that Purdue football made itself relevant again. But at this moment, as the Badgers look for a 12th straight victory in the series, that cool and wet October night in West Lafayette is nothing but a horror story for the Boilermakers, while at the same time serving as one of the more important games in Wisconsin football history.

Wisconsin WR Jazz Peavy to miss Purdue game

MADISON — Wisconsin will not have the services of wide receiver Jazz Peavy on Saturday against Purdue.

The school released its final injury report for the week and Peavy was listed as out with a right leg injury. Coach Paul Chryst told reporters that it’s something that’s been bother the senior for a while, but he did practice some this week and it isn’t expected to be something that keeps him out long term.

Peavy has not been as involved in Wisconsin’s offense this year as he was as a junior, as sophomore Quintez Cephus has ascended to the No. 1 spot. Still, his absence will mean more chances for younger receivers, including sophomore A.J. Taylor, freshman Danny Davis and redshirt freshman Kendric Pryor.

“It’s another opportunity for guys to step up,” Chryst said. “You always want all your players, but you want them to be at their best. Obviously, Jazz isn’t able to do that. [We’ve] done it at a lot of other positions, and [now] that [wide receiver] group has to step up. And those around have to step up.”

Peavy has five catches for 55 yards this season.

The rest of the injury report:

QUESTIONABLE:

OL Jon Dietzen (leg)
RB Chris James (leg)
OL Micah Kapoi (arm)
K P.J. Rosowski (leg)

OUT

RB Taiwan Deal (leg)
S Patrick Johnson (arm)
DE Chikwe Obasih (leg)
WR Jazz Peavy (leg)
WR George Rushing (leg)