Wisconsin DE Keldric Preston no longer with the team

Wisconsin’s defensive line is down another scholarship player.

A UW official confirmed Thursday that defensive end Keldric Preston is no longer with the team.

Preston, a three-star recruit out of Tampa, Fla., was among those that were being counted upon to fill the void left by the departure of three seniors after last season. The opportunities increased even more when defensive ends Garrett Rand (season-ending) and Isaiahh Loudermilk (kept out of fall camp) suffered injuries. But Preston was unable to take advantage. He did not see the field in the first three contests before leaving the program prior to the Iowa game. He appeared in just one game in his career.

A member of Wisconsin’s 2016 recruiting class, Preston is the ninth player from that class that is no longer around. He’s also the fourth scholarship player to leave the program since the end of fall camp, joining cornerback Dontye Carriere-Williams, safety Patrick Johnson and linebacker Arrington Farrar.

Wisconsin at Iowa: Grades

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Wisconsin went into Kinnick Stadium and did what few teams have been able to do on Saturday night, keep its dreams of a national championship alive. The Badgers rallied from a late 17-14 deficit to take the lead with under a minute to play before icing the game with a turnover and another touchdown.

Here’s how each of Wisconsin’s units graded out in Saturday night’s 28-17 win over Iowa.

Offense – B+

Quarterback Alex Hornibrook led the Badgers on a game-winning drive that culminated on a 17-yard touchdown strike to A.J. Taylor with 57 seconds left in regulation. That was probably the most important drive of Hornibrook’s football life and he stepped up.

Saturday night wasn’t exactly a replica performance of the 2017 Orange Bowl for Hornibrook, but it was the closest thing he’s had to it since that game. He finished 17-of-22 for 205 yards, three scores and no interceptions. He was exactly what Wisconsin needed, even if he was late on a couple throws. Hornibrook stayed away from the big mistake all night and found a way to win the game.

Wisconsin also unleashed a jumbo package on Saturday night that featured Logan Bruss and Jason Erdmann in eligible numbers and lining up at tight ends. For those counting at home it means Wisconsin had seven 300-pound player on the field at one time. The Badgers started off incredibly run heavy, sticking to the ground game for 10 of the first 13 plays of the game.

Despite that, it felt like there was more to be desired from running back Jonathan Taylor on the night. He finished with 25 carries for 113 yards – a solid night for most – but the issue is that Wisconsin’s rushing attack doesn’t have the feeling like Taylor is set to pop loose at any time for 70-plus yards. In 2017 that was the case, but it hasn’t been thus far this season.

Defense – B

Much like the offense, the defense stepped up for the Badgers when it was needed most. Iowa had an opportunity to ice the game in the fourth quarter, leading 17-14 with the ball and 8:34 left in regulation. Wisconsin’s defense was on the field for six plays and gave up 32 yards before forcing the Hawkeyes into a punt setting up the game-winning drive orchestrated by Hornibrook.

After the Badgers took the lead the defense immediately shut the door. Linebacker T.J. Edwards intercepted Nate Stanley’s pass on third and four with 38 seconds left in regulation to ice the game.

The performance wasn’t nearly as dominant as 2017’s against Iowa where Wisconsin allowed just 66 yards of offense. Stanley made some very impressive throws for Iowa, including a couple passes of 30 yards or more. Iowa also ran for 4.8 yards per carry, which isn’t great, either.

All in all, Wisconsin’s defense giving the offense a chance late and then shutting the door at the end is more than enough to earn a solid grade.

Special Teams – A-

Okay, so, not everything was great about the special teams performance as there was a long kickoff return called back due to a holding penalty and the Badgers allowed a 25-yard punt return to Iowa at one point (later fumbled).

But, that unit created a pair of turnovers, including handing the offense the ball at Iowa’s 10-yard line after a punt hit an Iowa player’s foot and was recovered by the Badgers leading to a touchdown three plays later.

Anytime special teams causes two turnovers, they’re deserving of at least an “A-“ on the day.

Fun Fact: A (or F, depending on what side of the bet was taken)

Fullback Alec Ingold scored a touchdown from 33 yards out with 22 seconds left in regulation to make the score 28-17. That touchdown pushed the game total score to 45 points, just eclipsing the 44-point mark that Vegas had set as the over/under. If you took the over, congrats.

If you took the under, well, yikes.

Last hits: Wisconsin 28, Iowa 17

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Twenty-five last hits for running back Jonathan Taylor’s 25 carries in Wisconsin’s 28-17 win over Iowa on Saturday night.

1. Three yards and a cloud of… rubber pellets.

2. That’s not exactly the way the saying used to describe old-school, Big Ten football goes, but that’s what it was on Saturday night in Wisconsin’s 28-17 win over Iowa. The game was decided by offensive lineman – and plenty of them – fullbacks, punting, and of course timely quarterback play.

3. Those things all went in Wisconsin’s favor on Saturday night, and that’s exactly why the Badgers were able to come away with the victory.

4. The Badgers installed a new jumbo package this week – actually called “jumbo” according to fullback Alec Ingold – and used it plenty against Iowa. That package featured both offensive linemen Logan Bruss and Jason Erdmann wearing eligible numbers, 89 and 96, respectively, and lining up as tight ends.

5. The numbers haven’t been looked up specifically, but it would be rather difficult to find a pair of tight ends larder than the 6-foot-5, 303-pound Bruss and 6-foot-6, 325-pound Erdmann.

6. “It was fun when they put it in because we speak it into existence,” Ingold said after the win. “Big guys just love to get on the field because they put in all this work and do their reps. You have the All-Americans up front and they have a chance that they can really prove that they can do their thing too.”

7. They did their thing early on. Wisconsin opened up the game with a clear plan in mind. The Badgers wanted to establish the run. They didn’t care who knew that the ground attack was coming, and it didn’t seem to matter. Ten of the first 13 plays of the game for the Badgers were rushing attempts, and in total the Badgers ran the ball 44 times for 210 yards with Jonathan Taylor, Alec Ingold, Taiwan Deal, and Garrett Groshek.

8. “It’s definitely really fun,” Taylor said of the jumbo package. “The best thing about it is executing. Once you see it work and then you run it again, and then you run it again, and it’s like we’re trying to take control of these guys. Kind of wearing the opponent down and it’s fun doing that.”

9. Wisconsin has had better days on the ground no doubt, but facing off against this physical Iowa defense was a different story than anything faced in the first three weeks of the season.

10. All of this, of course, was overshadowed by the exciting finish as quarterback Alex Hornibrook led the Badgers on a 10-play, 88-yard drive to re-take the lead from Iowa with just 57 seconds remaining.

11. Hornibrook was calm, cool, and collected as he did what the Badgers were unable to do the week prior, win the game.

12. “I’m not even sure what I said, it probably wasn’t too complicated,” said the signal caller of his message to the offense prior to that 88-yard trek. “Everybody knew what we had to do, and we just locked it in and got the drive going.”

13. That drive culminated on a 17-yard touchdown catch by A.J. Taylor, Hornibrook’s third touchdown of the day. The throw was on time, where only Taylor could catch it, and capped off a solid day for the quarterback.

14. His two other scores were both from within the red zone as well. One of them was set up with the jumbo package in as tight end Jake Ferguson snuck out on a play action pass for the 6-yard touchdown. The other one may have been Hornibrook’s best throw of the night, a back-shoulder toss to Danny Davis on third and goal from the 12.

15. Hornibrook isn’t the perfect quarterback. He has his flaws, as most quarterbacks do. But with that being said, he was exactly what the Badgers needed on Saturday night. He stepped up when his team needed him most down the stretch and delivered in a possible season-defining moment.

16. Last week’s loss to BYU was the most disappointing loss in the Paul Chryst era. In fact, it’s fair to label the first three games as a whole a disappointment. The Badgers were an underwhelming bunch that didn’t pass the eye test or have the same feel as the 2017 group last year did.

17 Things seemed to change on Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium.

18. “It was a combination of everybody,” A.J. Taylor said of the mindset heading into the last drive. “It was Alex, it was the defense, it was us the receivers, the running backs, I think we all decided that we need to do this. That was a big coming together moment, experience, or whatever you want to call it in this game. We all decided to make that decision to make something happen.

19. “For me, I don’t believe we had come together like we did tonight. The way we rallied tonight, that was special. You could feel it, just within us. I did not think we were going to lose that game at all. It’s hard to explain. It’s a feeling, it’s an electricity or something that just – we clicked.”

20. Taylor wasn’t the only one that felt that way. Several other players agreed with his thoughts on the team coming together at the right time. There had been something missing during the first few weeks of the season for the Badgers, and that very well may have been it.

21. “I think [last week’s loss] really opened some eyes. It let guys know that we can’t just walk on the field and beat somebody,” linebacker T.J. Edwards said. “I think tonight we really came together, and every single unit was present at this game and making a huge impact on it.”

22. Edwards was right. Obviously, the offense had a big part with the game-winning drive in the final minutes, but the punt unit created two turnovers and Edwards had the game-sealing interception after the go-ahead score, too.

23. “I definitely felt that ‘come together’ moment,” Jonathan Taylor said. “When you’re on the road you only have so many guys and it’s just you. It’s just you guys together on the field. Just having that guy, the man next to you, just having his back, that’s the biggest thing. That’s when you come together as a team.”

24. Make no mistake about it, the loss to BYU still stings this program, but it doesn’t destroy the season. The Badgers’ hopes of winning the 2019 College Football Playoff are still alive, even if by the slimmest of margins.

25. There will be plenty of tough tests ahead for Wisconsin, but the Badgers came together, aced their first road test of the season, and kept the dream alive in a place where so many before have seen theirs crushed.

Preview: (18) Wisconsin at Iowa

THE BASICS

The teams: The No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers (2-1) vs the Iowa Hawkeyes (3-0)

The time: 7:30 p.m. CDT, Saturday

The place: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, Iowa

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

The last time: Jonathan Taylor ran for 157 yards, while the Wisconsin defense suffocated Iowa in a 38-14 win last November.

The series: Wisconsin leads 46–43-2

The line: Wisconsin -3

The Badgers injury report:

QUESTIONABLE

TE Zander Neuville (leg)
OLB Andrew Van Ginkel (leg)

OUT

Game:

TE Luke Benzschawel (leg)
ILB Griffin Grady (leg)
DE Kraig Howe (leg)
ILB Mike Maskalunas (leg)
RB Bradrick Shaw (leg)

Season:

DL Garrett Rand (achilles)
OL Blake Smithback (leg)
LB Mason Platter (leg)

SUSPENDED

WR Quintez Cephus

THE BREAKDOWN: FIVE THINGS TO WATCH

1) Getting back on track

Paul Chryst has talked regularly about responding to adversity and how each year and team are different than the last. In his first three seasons, Chryst’s teams showed a knack for bouncing back after a tough game or a debilitating injury. Following a stunning 24-21 loss to BYU last week, the fourth-year coach is about to find out how resilient this bunch can be. Will they come out with passion and energy that seemed to be lacking last week? Or will they just rollover and concede that all the preseason hype was misguided? If the Wisconsin we expected doesn’t show up Saturday, will it ever?

2) Nighttime as Kinnick

Wisconsin is going to be walking into a hornets nest Saturday night. Already one of the tougher places to play in the Big Ten, things get even louder when Iowa takes the field under the lights at Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes beat No. 2 Michigan in 2016 at night and should have beaten No. 4 Penn State a year ago. Communication will be key for the Badgers, many of whom will be playing their first career road game.

3) Now or never

In a decision that is still a bit jarring, Wisconsin replaced four of its five starters along the offensive line for a drive in the middle of the third quarter last week. It’s a line, you’ll remember, that was on the cover of Sports Illustrated and considered to be the best in the country. But it hasn’t played out that way and the group has not dominated like it should with the talent it has. The Badgers, though, will have a chance this week to prove it can still be an elite unit. Iowa’s defensive line has played lights out in the first three games and the Hawkeyes are allowing just 42 yards per game — the No. 2 mark in the country. Wisconsin must get the best the line has to offer if the offense is going to be effective on Saturday night.

4) Who is the real Nate Stanley?

Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley was coming off the best game of his career when the Hawkeyes came to Madison last November. The Menomonie, Wis., native had thrown five touchdowns in a major upset of Ohio State the previous week and seemed to be hitting on all cylinders. It didn’t last, though, as the Badgers put together a defensive effort that ranks among the best in school history. Iowa had just 66 total yards, including 41 through the air. It was, by far, Stanley’s worst effort of his. So which Stanley will show up on Saturday night? The one that lit up the Buckeyes or the one that laid an egg against Wisconsin?

5) Step it up

The Badgers need the Alex Hornibrook of the Orange Bowl to show up and do so quickly. After a four touchdown, zero interception performance, everyone expected the junior quarterback to build on that and give Wisconsin a passing attack that could match its running game. So far, that hasn’t happened. Instead, things have looked disjointed at times. Certainly you can point to the suspensions of Quintez Cephus and Danny Davis, and the newness of tight end Jake Ferguson, for the early struggles, but that would be giving the passing attack a free pass. Wisconsin is too talented at the skill positions to not have more success than we’ve seen to this point.

NUMBERS TO CONSIDER

Between 1968 and 1997, Wisconsin had one win at Iowa. In the 20 years since, the Badgers have seven victories (7-3) at Kinnick Stadium.

Hornibrook threw three interceptions last year against Iowa, including two that were returned for touchdowns. Despite that, his passer rating of 127.4 was still 88 points higher than Stanley’s in that game.

The Badgers are 14-1 in true road games since Paul Chryst took over in 2015. The lone loss came at Michigan in 2016.

ZONE PREDICTIONS

Zach Heilprin’s prediction: Iowa 24, Wisconsin 10
Ebo’s prediction: Wisconsin 21, Iowa 17
Joe Miller’s prediction: Wisconsin 23, Iowa 14
Danny Cunningham’s prediction: Iowa 28, Wisconsin 24

Wisconsin at Iowa: Three keys

Wisconsin disappointed many last weekend when it lost a non-conference home game for the first time since 2003. The Badgers fell to BYU 24-21 despite closing as 21-to-22.5-point favorites, depending on the gambling service one prefers.

That loss may have surprised many, but it was in tune with how the Badgers have looked for the better part of the young season, which is underwhelming. Wisconsin was ranked No. 4 in the preseason AP Top 25 poll and has now fallen down to No. 18 after the loss to BYU.

Thing only get tougher from here on out for Wisconsin, and that begins on Saturday night in Iowa City. The Badgers are tasked with having to head into Kinnick Stadium – where national title dreams have gone to die in each of the past two seasons – and rebound from the early season loss.

Weather the early storm

As mentioned above, Kinnick Stadium has been a tough place to play for opponents the past few years. Last season, Ohio State traveled there ranked No. 3 in the country with a 7-1 record and clinging to hopes of making the playoffs. The Buckeyes left Iowa after a 55-24 shellacking at the hands of the Hawkeyes. In 2016 the Michigan Wolverines were ranked No. 2 in the country, 9-0 and trending towards a playoff appearance before a 14-13 loss under the lights at Kinnick.

This game has been circled on the schedule of Iowa all summer long. Like the Badgers, Iowa didn’t have a very difficult non-conference slate. Unlike the Badgers, Iowa was able to get through it unscathed.

This game being played at night makes things even tougher for Wisconsin. After a road schedule that didn’t have many tough environments last season, this will be the first true test for this program in a while, and one that many of the players haven’t seen.

No one on the roster has played at Iowa under the lights, but safety Scott Nelson was at the 2016 upset the Hawkeyes pulled over Michigan on an official visit. That’s as close as Wisconsin comes to having experience in this exact environment.

“It’s similar to here,” said Nelson of the atmosphere in Iowa City. “The hype around it builds up throughout the day. Everybody looks forward to it, their fans are crazy. It’s going to be loud, it’s going to be exciting, it’s going to be fun.”

Get the offense in gear

Yes, this team rushed for a Paul Chryst era high 417 yards against New Mexico two weeks ago. No, they haven’t been impressive in the least bit. Yes, those two things can absolutely co-exist.

With expectations as high as they were prior to the season, the best word to describe Wisconsin’s offense is underwhelming. This group was supposed to be able to light up the scoreboard and it hasn’t happened as expected. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook has been average, running back Jonathan Taylor has put up solid numbers, but his impact hasn’t felt as strong as it did last year, and the offensive line hasn’t lived up to expectations either.

The world expected more out of the Badgers’ offense this year. That group hasn’t been able to capture the magic that was on display in the 2017 Orange Bowl win over Miami despite bringing back 10 of 11 starters from that night. If there’s ever a night where this team needs to find that magic, this is probably it.

Attempt to replicate last year’s defensive effort

Mentioned above was the fact that Iowa dropped 55 points on then title contender Ohio State in 2017. What wasn’t mentioned is the fact that Wisconsin’s defense made life extremely difficult for the Hawkeyes seven days later.

Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley through for 226 yards and five touchdowns against the Buckeyes in that blowout victory. The very next week he finished 8-of-24 for 41 yards and an interception against the Badgers.

In Wisconsin’s 38-14 win, Iowa was held to just 66 yards of total offense on the day. The defense for the Badgers was absolutely suffocating, and that may be putting it lightly.

“I felt like we dominated the game as a defensive unit, honestly,” safety D’Cota Dixon said this week when asked to reflect on last year’s game. “Probably was our best showcase as a defensive performance, I think, that we’ve probably had here in a long time.”

It’s a stretch to think that effort will be replicated, but there can be some things learned from last year in an attempt to limit what Iowa can do offensively.

Wisconsin Football Roundtable: Sept. 21, 2018

On this week’s episode of the Wisconsin Football Roundtable, our former BadgersMontee Ball, Anthony Davis and Travis Beckum — look at what went wrong against BYU, what needs to change to beat Iowa and whether their expectations for the season have changed.

Badgers drop in AP Poll again

Three straight weeks, three straight tumbles in the AP Top 25 for the Wisconsin Badgers.

This time, however, was much different than the previous two. In Weeks 1 and 2 Wisconsin won by 31 points each time, but didn’t look overly impressive in doing so. In Week 3 the Badgers lost at home to previously unranked BYU 24-21.

The loss was the first non-conference loss at Camp Randall Stadium for the Badgers since 2003, and it was enough to send Wisconsin all the way down to No. 18. This is the first time that Wisconsin has been outside of the top 10 since the 2016 season.

After defeating Wisconsin, BYU is no ranked No. 25.

Wisconsin returns to action next weekend on the road against Iowa.