On an absolutely stunning fall day with alumni walking through Camp Randall reminiscing about their glory days, the Wisconsin Badgers took the field on homecoming weekend to make some new memories and their own glory days.
Per tradition this season, the defense dominated and held Maryland to just over 260 total yards of offense, well under their season average of almost 400 yards per game, and only 13 points.
Linebacker T.J. Edwards got things off to a great start with a 54 yard pick-six, Wisconsin’s fourth on the season. The offense had not even taken the field but the score was quickly 7-0.
Edwards would finish the game with five total tackles, a pass break up and the interception.
“What I’ve enjoyed seeing i that he doesn’t mind being that guy stepping up and inspiring not just the defense but the team,” head coach Paul Chryst said on Edwards team impact.
Maryland quarterback Max Bortenschlager was rushed on the pass as linebacker Garret Dooley came screaming through the offensive line and hit Brotenschlager as he was throwing the ball. That would be a theme all game as Wisconsin put on the pressure.
Outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel was in the quarterback’s face most of the afternoon and finished with two of Wisconsin’s six quarterback hurries, one sack and a forced fumble.
The defense would also, per tradition this season, have to bail out the offense as on Wisconsin’s first drive of the game quarterback Alex Hornibrook forced a pass down field and was intercepted for the fourth game in a row.
Turnovers would continue to plague the offense, with running back Jonathan Taylor fumbling the ball on the five yard line giving Maryland an opportunity on the goal line and putting the pressure back on the defense.
“We got to just work on minimizing those mistakes that make it a little bit harder on us,” Chryst said.
A bend-don’t-break mantra could not have described the defense better, however, with Wisconsin’s defense forcing Maryland to settle for a field goal.
On the third offensive drive of the game the offense would finally settle in, courtesy of tight end Troy Fumagalli.
Hornibrook would find Fumagalli three times on the drive, one of which coming on a third-and-short that kept the drive alive. The tight end would lead Wisconsin receiving with 83 yards on seven receptions.
Resilience was crucial for the Wisconsin offense as its two star players, Hornibrook and Taylor bounced back to spark a solid overall offensive performance.
Hornibrook ended up having a stellar day posting his best dame since the BYU game earlier in the season. After the interception, Hornibrook bounced back in a big way. He would end the day going 16 for 24 and garnered 225 yards and two touchdowns.
For Chryst, Hornibrooks ability to bounce back is his most admirable skill.
“He knows that he has too. The biggest thing about something that happened is what you can take away from it,” Chryst said
Taylor, despite the fumble, ran for 126 yards and also got into the endzone for a touchdown. He would also make history, joining Emmitt Smith, Adrian Peterson, P.J. Hill and Marshall Faulk as the only freshmen to rush for 1,000 yards in their first seven games.
On the season now, Taylor has 1,123 yards on the ground averaging over 7.5 yards per carry.
In seven games, the freshman running back has vaulted himself into the Heisman talk and, with the help of the defense bailing out the offense from time to time, vaulted Wisconsin up the rankings.
Wisconsin did not disappoint on homecoming weekend, giving countless alumni flashbacks to dominant Badger teams and Rose Bowl appearances. With a 7-0 record for the first time since 2004, expectations are rising for a team in control of their own destiny.
They will look to continue their unbeaten streak next week at Illinois.