A picturesque mountain day seemed to be enjoyed solely by Wisconsin fans after an elite performance Saturday afternoon, which culminated in a 40-6 victory for the Badgers.
The defense came out of the chute full of energy, as ILB TJ Edwards ruined BYU QB Beau Hoge’s first career start and pass attempt, intercepting the ball to put Wisconsin deep in Cougar territory. Wisconsin settled for a field goal after failing to convert a long third down on the first drive.
BYU responded on their next drive with run play after run play, grinding out an equalizing field goal late in the first quarter.
Freshman WR Danny Davis played an unlikely hero in Wisconsin’s second drive, converting a 50 yard reception, his second career catch, in tight coverage. FB Austin Ramesh nearly joined Davis as an unexpected contributor, but his TD run was called back after officials ruled his knee was down at the BYU 1. Jonathan Taylor cleaned up the drive, walking into the end zone for his 5th career TD that put Wisconsin up 10-3.
After a quick BYU three-and-out, Jonathan Taylor eluded seemingly every BYU defenseman, setting up an easy Hornibrook to Quintez Cephus TD as Wisconsin pulled ahead 17-3.
A weak BYU offense looked helpless from the start, and Beau Hoge’s inexperience was apparent. His inability to let plays develop forced some ill-advised pass attempts and unnecessary scrambles. Overall, BYU stuck to the run, crossing their fingers they’d eventually break one loose. Unfortunately for them, this never happened. The defense has continued to impress,
“This year’s group is starting to build together. I like what TJ [Edwards] is bringing, he’s starting to be a leader,” head coach Paul Chryst said.
At the half, Alex Hornibrook was having another consistent and poised performance, throwing 10/11, 149 yards and 2TDs. His QBR was astronomically high at 264.7. For reference, Oklahoma’s Heisman hopeful Baker Mayfield’s QBR for the year is 93.9. Jonathan Taylor continued to be the breakout star he’d been all year, totaling 86 yards on 12 carries including yet another TD.
The second half started slowly, as both teams were forced to punt on their first second half drives. BYU’s drive ended in a mammoth sack from Andrew Van Ginkel, the first sack for Wisconsin at that point in the contest.
On the ensuing Wisconsin drive, Hornibrook and J. Taylor continued their tremendous afternoons. Taylor bounced off tacklers like they were gnats, and Hornibrook looked like a seasoned veteran, capping off a sterling drive with an 18 yard TD pass to AJ Taylor, with Wisconsin leading 31-6 at that point.
At the end of the 3rd quarter, Hornibrook had recorded one, yes one, incompletion on the afternoon. If there was any doubt about his maturity, Hornibrook squashed that criticism forcibly. Aside from one sack where Hornibrook may have held onto the ball for too long, his mistakes were very few.
“I thought he saw the field really well and he was decisive. I like the way he approached the week,” Chryst said.
BYU was held scoreless in the third, with each of their drives resulting in punts.
The fourth quarter, not surprisingly, followed the same pattern. After an interception from redshirt freshman Dontye Carriere-Williams that left Wisconsin in BYU territory, the offense converted a fourth down conversion. Soon after, Alex Hornibrook (18/19) broke the school record for completion percentage set by Darrell Bevell in 1993 with a TD strike to Troy Fumagalli, his fourth passing TD of the afternoon.
Wisconsin left Provo with their heads held high, winning 40-6.
Heading into Wisconsin’s Big Ten schedule, there could not have been a more confidence-building victory.
“It’s a great win to build on,” Chryst said.
Wisconsin seems to have found their identity: versatile running backs make for a tough game plan, Alex Hornibrook has found his stride in arguably his best performance to date, and the defense has been able to rely on each other to make smart plays every game. Wisconsin faces off against Northwestern on September 30th at home.
Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Football