Toes and fingers were numb as the temperature hovered close to 30 degrees on a crisp Saturday in Camp Randall. And with the traditional Wisconsin weather, came a traditional match up with the Iowa Hawkeyes.
The defense’s of both teams were the playmakers in this one. Iowa’s scored all of their points, and Wisconsin’s won them the game.
At one point, Wisconsin’s defense forced Iowa into seven straight three and outs. On the game, Iowa’s offense could not even accumulate 100 yards on the day. They also did not score a single point.
Wisconsin linebackers Leon Jacobs and T.J. Edwards would make the game changing plays, putting Wisconsin up 24-14 in the third quarter and stopping an Iowa drive late in the third, as they would then go on cruise control to a final score of 38-14.
What looked to be a hot start for a Wisconsin offense that struggles early in games, ended up being more of the same as Hornibrook threw an interception for his seventh straight game. Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson jumped the out route and housed the interception giving Iowa the early lead.
After throwing another couple interceptions later in the game, many are starting to question the second year quarterbacks decision making.
“You’re always trying to find out how you can help him,” Chryst said. “Certainly there is a theme of the turnovers and they’re all a little bit different.”
Hornibrook would finish the game with a gut wrenching 130 yards, three interceptions and two touchdowns.
Penalties also stymied an early score opportunity for Wisconsin, as a false start by Kyle Penniston would push Wisconsin off of the goal line. They would settle for a 23 yard field goal by Rafael Gaglianone to make it 10-3 with Iowa leading.
Wisconsin’s defense, however, was the story of the game and possibly the season. In the first half alone, they forced six straight three and outs allowing only 20 yards to Iowa’s offense.
“That was a heck of a performance by our defense. Credit to the coaches for the plan and obviously the players forgoing out there and executing it,” head coach Paul Chryst said.
No one player stepped up as every player on the defense seemingly made a play on a third down.
Linebacker Ryan Connelly lead the Wisconsin defense with seven tackles, one quarterback hurry and 1.0 tackles for loss, making a lot of plays early on in the first quarter.
Wisconsin’s offense, who never struggled getting drives together, but struggled to finish them, finally entered the end zone with a 25 yard jet sweep by receiver Kendric Pryor. It was Pryor’s first touchdown of his career but he would soon add to his total.
On the ensuing Iowa drive, linebacker Andrew Van Ginkle and defensive lineman Connor Sheehy combined for a sack, forcing Iowa yet again to punt after just three plays.
Nose tackle Olive Sagapolu also got in on the defensive action, sacking Iowa quarterback Stanely on their own one yard line.
Wisconsin’s offense and Hornibrook would reward the defense finally following that defense stop up with a touchdown drive. Hornibrook would find Pryor for a 12 yard touchdown pass.
Pryor will see a huge uptick in usage as lead receiver Quintez Cephus has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a leg injury. He would finish the game with two touches for two touchdowns. That is called efficiency.
Fellow receiver Danny Davis also had a good day, stepping into Cephus’s old role, finishing with four receptions for 74 yards.
Running back Jonathan Taylor would continue his impressive freshman campaign gaining chunk runs that kept Wisconsin’s offense rolling despite multiple mistakes. He would finish the game with 28 carries for 158 yards and two fumbles.
The second half would be more of the same.
Iowa’s Jackson would again intercept Honribrook for a pick six to cut Wisconsin’s lead to three points. Jackson would end up with 95 yards on the two interceptions and also accounted for 100 percent of Iowa’s points.
“Not good, you gave them 14 points. That’s something we’ve been battling that all year,” Chryst said of the turnovers by Wisconsin’s offense.
Penalties would also continue to hurt Wisconsin. On the day they accumulated six penalties (all on the offense) negating 54 yards of offense.
Wisconsin’s defense would again have to step up, this time with linebacker Leon Jacobs leading the way.
Making the play of the game, Jacobs would recover a fumble by Stanley and take it 21 yards back for a touchdown putting Wisconsin back up by ten and firmly in control of the game.
“Headsy play, on the scoop and score. Leon is a guy who will do anything for this team,” Chryst said on the play of the game.
Jacobs would recover yet another fumble late in the fourth quarter, putting the dagger in a game dominated by the defense. He would end the day with two fumble recoveries, four tackles and 1.0 sacks.
On Saturday, Jacobs made his 55th appearance in a game for Wisconsin breaking the school record for games played.
T.J. Edwards, not wanting his fellow linebacker to show him up, would come in on the next Iowa offensive drive and make a bobbling, one-handed interception.
Wisconsin moves to 10-0 on the season for the first time in school history and clinched the Big Ten West. They will try and continue their undefeated season in what should be a top-20 match up against Michigan next week at Camp Randall.