Leg injury ends Wisconsin WR AJ Taylor’s season, two others questionable for Ohio State

AJ Taylor’s career at Wisconsin is done.

The Badgers announced Friday that the senior wide receiver would miss the final two games of the season, including the Big Ten title game against Ohio State. Taylor suffered a right leg injury in the second quarter of Wisconsin’s win at Minnesota last Saturday.

The Kansas City product finished his career with 89 catches for 1,316 yards and 10 touchdowns. He added 16 rushes for 79 yards. Among his touchdowns was the lone score for the Badgers in their first meeting with the Buckeyes earlier this season.

When Taylor left the game against the Gophers, junior Jack Dunn saw his reps increase. That figures to continue against Ohio State, though sophomore Aron Cruickshank figures to see extra time as well.

Wisconsin’s final status report for the game also included left guard David Moorman and cornerback Rachad Wildgoose. Both were listed as questionable with leg injuries.

Moorman was injured early against Minnesota. He was replaced by sophomore Kayden Lyles.

Wildgoose suffered his injury late in the game against Purdue. Freshman Semar Melvin took his spot with the first-team defense against the Gophers.

Badgers fall to NC State in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Wisconsin has lost three-straight non-conference games for just the third time in the last 20 seasons.

The Badgers fell 69-54 at NC State Wednesday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, dropping Wisconsin to 10-11 all-time. It also left the team 4-4 on the year.

Despite struggling with turnovers and a slow start offensively, the Badgers led 30-29 before Markell Johnson banked in a 3-pointer from half court to beat the buzzer at the end of the first half. Wisconsin would not lead again, as the Wolfpack used a 19-8 run to open the second half.

Junior Aleem Ford led Wisconsin with 13 points and 7 rebounds. Junior Kobe King added 11 points, while freshman Tyler Wahl gave UW some nice minutes off the bench with 5 points and 8 rebounds before foul trouble sidelined him.

Outside shooting continued to be an issue for Wisconsin. The Badgers went just 5-for-23 on 3-pointers (22.7-percent) and are now 14-for-76 (18.4-percent) in their last three games. The club also didn’t help itself at the free throw line, where it went 7 of 15.

NC State was paced by sophomore Jericole Hellems career-high 21 points. Senior CJ Bryce had 11 points off the bench. The Wolfpack shot 48.2-percent from the field, the best any team has done against the Badgers this season.

Wisconsin will now head home to open Big Ten play with a visit from unbeaten Indiana on Saturday afternoon at the Kohl Center.

7 Badgers earn All-Big Ten offensive honors

A day after Wisconsin’s defense saw seven players earn All-Big Ten recognition, the focus shifted to the offensive side of the ball.

As you’d expect, juniors Jonathan Taylor and Tyler Biadasz led the way for the Badgers.

For a third-straight year, Taylor was a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection after accounting for 1,962 total yards and 25 touchdowns. He was also named the Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year for the second time in his career, becoming the third running back to win it multiple times.

Biadasz was also a consensus All-Big Ten first-team pick, the second time in his three years he’s done that. He was a consensus third-team selection as a freshman.

Meanwhile, left tackle Cole Van Lanen was a second-team pick by the media and an honorable mention selection by the coaches. Also earning honorable mention were right tackle Logan Bruss (consensus), wide receiver Quintez Cephus (consensus), tight end Jake Ferguson (consensus) and quarterback Jack Coan (media).

All the honorees helped Wisconsin’s offense bounce back after a rough 2018. The Badgers currently rank second in the Big Ten and 16th in the country in scoring, averaging 35.8 points per game. That would be the third-highest average in school history. They are also averaging 442.6 yards per game, a number that would rank sixth in school history.

Like it did on defense, Ohio State saw the most players picked with 11. That included quarterback Justin Fields being named the Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year and the Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year.

Latest Wisconsin bowl projections: Rose? Cotton? Gator?

Wisconsin moved up four spots in the latest College Football Playoff rankings to No. 8. If the season ended today, that would almost surely mean a trip to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2012. But the season does not end today. Not for the Badgers, at least.

By virtue of winning their fourth Big Ten West title in six seasons, coach Paul Chryst’s team will play one more game — the conference championship game this Saturday against No. 1 and unbeaten Ohio State.

While the game provides a huge opportunity to win their first Big Ten championship in seven years, it also leaves open the very real possibility of a third loss and a likely fall in the playoff rankings. Why does that matter? Well, because the Buckeyes are assured of a spot in the playoff, the Rose Bowl would then choose from the next highest-ranked* Big Ten team.

*There is language in the Rose Bowl’s contract that makes it so they are not forced to pick the highest-ranked team:

“If the next-highest ranked team is in a ‘cluster’ of teams, meaning there is another team or teams from the same conference ranked within several spots of each other, the Tournament of Roses will select the team from that cluster that will result in the best possible matchup for the Rose Bowl Game.”

It’s noted later in the selection procedures part that it is the “strong preference” of the Rose Bowl, Pac-12 and Big Ten Conferences to have the the highest-ranked team a part of the game.

Wisconsin’s biggest competition for the Rose Bowl is Penn State, which is No. 10 in the CFP rankings. The Nittany Lions finished at 10-2 and second in the Big Ten East behind Ohio State. Their two losses came against Minnesota and the Buckeyes.

A close loss to Ohio State on Saturday would seemingly keep the Badgers ahead in the rankings, but if they get blown out for a second time this year by the Buckeyes, their hopes of spending New Year’s in Pasadena could be in trouble.

Obviously, Wisconsin could make all this talk irrelevant by going out and pulling off the monster upset at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Here’s a look at the latest bowl projections:

ESPN.com: Gator Bowl, vs Tennessee/Kentucky

The Athletic: Cotton Bowl, vs Memphis

CBSSports.com: Rose Bowl, vs Oregon

AthlonSports.com: Cotton Bowl, vs Memphis

CollegeFootballNews.com: Cotton Bowl, vs Boise State

USA Today: Citrus Bowl, vs Auburn

247Sports: Outback Bowl, vs Tennessee

WatchStadium.com: Cotton Bowl, vs Memphis

All-Big Ten defensive teams announced

Wisconsin went 10-2 in the regular season and won the Big Ten West. On Tuesday, the Badgers started seeing some honors come their way for that effort.

The conference announced its defensive awards and linebacker Zack Baun and Chris Orr led the way. Baun earned consensus first-team recognition, while Orr was named a consensus second-team pick. It’s the first all-conference honors for the seniors.

The pair finished tied for second in the Big Ten with 11.5 sacks each. It’s just the second time Wisconsin has had two guys reach a double-digit number of sacks in the same season. Baun’s 18.5 tackles for loss ranked No. 2 in the conference and No. 8 in the country.

https://twitter.com/BadgerFootball/status/1201991189567877120

Five Badgers were named honorable mention. Safety Eric Burrell, cornerback Faion Hicks and defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk were all consensus picks. Defensive end Matt Henningsen was chosen by the coaches and cornerback Rachad Wildgoose was picked by the media.

Special teams awards were also announced and sophomore Aron Cruickshank was a consensus second-team pick as a returner.

Ohio State dominated the all-conference teams, placing four players on the first-team alone. Defensive end Chase Young also took home the Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year award.

The awards on the offensive side of the ball will be announced Wednesday.

Badgers overcome early deficit, beat Michigan in series opener

BY: Mike Becker

MADISON | The Wisconsin Badgers notched an impressive come from behind victory against Big Ten rival Michigan on Saturday night at the Kohl Center. Michigan tallied two power play goals, one in the first period and another early in the second to take a 2-0 lead.

Midway through the second period freshman Dylan Holloway sniped a shot passed the Michigan goalie blocker side after a nice feed from junior Linus Weissbach. With two minutes remaining in the second frame, captain Wyatt Kalynuk scored the game-tying goal, with an assist from junior Ty Pelton-Byce. The goal was the third of the year for Kalynuk. The teams went to the locker room at the second intermission tied 2-2.

Just after the 13 minute mark of the third period sophomore K’Andre Miller was credited with a goal on a fortunate bounce that went off of a Michigan defender and found its way into the back of the net, giving Wisconsin a 3-2 lead. Pelton-Byce was credited with an assist, giving him two helpers on the evening. Wisconsin was able to fend off an aggressive Michigan attack with the goalie pulled late in the game as the game ended at 3-2.

Coach Tony Granato and the Badgers will look to finish off the sweep Sunday night in the series finale. Face-off is set for 4 p.m.

(12) Badgers 38, (8) Gophers 17: 2-minute drill

MINNEAPOLIS — Paul Bunyan’s Axe is coming back to Madison.

No. 12 Wisconsin scored touchdowns on five straight possessions on its way to a dominating 38-17 win over No. 8 Minnesota on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.

Game Balls

Offense: Jack Coan and Quintez Cephus

All the attention this week was on Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan and his two dynamic wide receivers — Rashod Bateman and Tyler Johnson. While that trio had its moments, it was Coan and Cephus that delivered some of the biggest plays of the game.

On the first possession of the second half, the Gophers had Wisconsin pinned at its own 9-yard line. Instead of being cautious, Coan tossed one up to Cephus for at 31-yard gain on firsts down. Two plays later, Coan dropped a beauty right down the middle to the junior wide receiver for a 47-yard touchdown.

Cephus finished the day with five catches for 114 yards, while Coan threw for 280 yards and two scores. On a day that should not have been conducive to the air game, the Badgers found plenty of success because of those two.

Defense: Caesar Williams

The defense had been maligned in recent weeks, but they showed up against the Gophers. That was especially true of the secondary. After freshman Semar Melvin got burned for a touchdown on the first drive of the game, the Badgers didn’t get beat down the field again. Time after time Morgan threw the ball up for his receivers, and more often than not, Wisconsin was up to the challenge.

As for Williams, he caught an interception off a tipped pass in the first quarter, but saved his best work on back-to-back plays in the fourth quarter. With Wisconsin leading 24-10, the Gophers tried to throw to Johnson on third and fourth down inside the 5-yard line but Williams was able to break up both passes. He finished with four pass breakups on a day the Badgers had nine as a team.

Special teams: Isaac Guerendo

It was 17-10 in the third quarter when the Badgers decided it was time for Guerendo to get the ball for the first time in his college career. Normal return man Aron Cruickshank returned the kickoff to the right before dishing the ball to the redshirt freshman on a reverse. He took off, using his track speed to rumble 49 yards and set up another Wisconsin touchdown.

“That felt awesome,” Guerendo said. “It’s just good to be able to contribute in some way to get that axe back for those seniors.”

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Badgers LT Cole Van Lanen

“We were coming in for one thing and that was to get the axe back to where it belongs. We did that today.”

In Case You Missed It

— After a one year stay in Minnesota, the Badgers reclaimed Paul Bunyan’s Axe. Wisconsin has now beaten the Gophers 15 of the last 16 years.

— Wisconsin once again owns the lead (61-60-8) in the all-time series with the Gophers.

— With the win, Wisconsin won the Big Ten West for a third time in coach Paul Chryst’s five years as coach.

— Wisconsin WR AJ Taylor suffered a right leg injury and did not return.

— ESPN’s College GameDay came to Minnesota for the first time. The Badgers won as the road team with GameDay in town for the first time since beating Purdue in 2004.

Inside the Numbers

6 — That’s how many times Wisconsin has made the Big Ten Championship. The Badgers will face No. 1 Ohio State next Saturday in Indianapolis looking to improve on their 2-3 record in total games.

76 — That’s how many yards rushing Minnesota had. It’s the second-fewest in a game this year.

205.1 — That was Coan’s passer rating — the highest of his career.

23 — That’s how many sacks linebackers Zack Baun and Chris Orr have combined for this season. It’s just the second time in Wisconsin history that two Badgers have had a double-digit number of sacks in the same season.

What’s Next

Wisconsin (10-2, 7-2) will head to Indianapolis to face unbeaten Ohio State (12-0, 9-0) for the Big Ten title on Saturday night. The Buckeyes beat the Badgers 38-7 in October.

Poor shooting, turnovers lead to another ugly Wisconsin loss

Wisconsin’s two games in Brooklyn this week went about as bad as they could have.

A day after falling to Richmond in the semifinals of the Legends Classic, the Badgers followed it up with a 59-50 loss to New Mexico in the consolation game.

The issues that burned the Badgers on Monday night — shooting and turnovers — were once again a problem. Wisconsin shot just 34-percent (18 of 53), including an ugly 7.7-percent (2 of 26) from 3-point range. It’s the Badgers worst shooting effort from the beyond the arc since hitting 7.7-percent against Penn in the 2003 season opener. Over the two days in Brooklyn, coach Greg Gard’s club was 9-for-53 from beyond the arc.

If you’re going to shoot that poorly, you better not give away chances. But that’s exactly was the Badgers did. They had 14 turnovers, including nine from juniors Nate Reuvers and Aleem Ford combined. The sloppiness comes a year after Wisconsin finished fifth in the country in fewest turnovers.

Reuvers, who fouled out, led the Badgers with 16 points and seven rebounds, while junior D’Mitrik Trice had 11 points and 7 rebounds. After scoring in double figures in four of the first five games of the season, junior Brad Davison had a total of 7 points in the two games in Brooklyn.

The Lobos got scoring from a number of places, with four guys hitting double figures. Jaquan Lyle led the way with 14 points.

With the loss, Wisconsin drops to 4-3 on the season. The club will be back in action next Wednesday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at NC State.

Badgers fall to Richmond in Legends Classic

Wisconsin scored just five points in roughly the final 10 minutes of the game and lost to Richmond 62-52 in the semifinals of the Legends Classic in Brooklyn Monday night.

With 9:56 left in the game, Nate Reuvers hit a pair of free throws to give the Badgers a 47-45 lead on the Spiders. But Wisconsin would miss nine of its final 10 shots and turn the ball over four times as coach Greg Gard’s club fell for a second time this year on a neutral court.

Wisconsin’s shooting woes were a game-long issue. The Badgers were just 7-for-27 from beyond the arc and shot just 34-percent for the game. That included Aleem Ford, D’Mitrik Trice and Brad Davison combining to go just 4 of 21 from the field and 2-for-13 on 3-pointers.

The Badgers also couldn’t get out of their own way, turning the ball over 15 times. That was a season-high and they are now averaging 12.3 on the year. After having just five games with 13 or more turnovers all of last season, they have done it three times in six games.

Reuvers finished with a team-high 17 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore Kobe King was the only other player in double figures with 10 points.

Richmond got a game-high 19 points from Blake Francis, while Grant Golden added 16 points and 12 rebounds.

Wisconsin will play the loser of New Mexico and Auburn on Tuesday afternoon at Barclays Center. Tip is at 4 p.m.