Jonathan Taylor rushed for just 46 yards in Wisconsin’s (4-2 Big Ten, 6-3 overall) loss to Northwestern last week. He eclipsed that mark with his eighth run of the day, en route to 214 yards and three touchdowns and a 31-17 victory over Rutgers (0-6, 1-8) at Camp Randall.
Sophomore quarterback Jack Coan took over for an injured Alex Hornibrook in the second half, who was ruled out with a head injury. Hornibrook also missed the Northwestern game with a concussion.
The Badgers found the end zone in Coan’s first two drives, albeit without a throw from the Sayville, New York native. UW ran the ball 13 straight times to start the second half, resulting in two Jonathan Taylor touchdowns.
After a 29-yard run from senior running back Taiwan Deal brought Wisconsin into Rutgers territory, Taylor scampered 38 yards for a touchdown, extending UW’s lead to 17-0. Rutgers answered with a field goal, which included a 17-yard reception from sophomore running back Raheem Blackshear on third and 16. The Badgers then ran the ball seven more times, resulting in a 18 yard Jonathan Taylor touchdown, extending Wisconsin’s lead to 24-3 at the end of the third quarter.
UW’s offense continued its recent struggles in the first half, scoring just 10 points on a Rutgers defense that came into the game ranked fourth worst in the Big Ten. Two Hornibrook interceptions hampered the Badgers despite 97 first half yards for Taylor.
On Wisconsin’s second drive of the day, Hornibrook ballooned a pass intended for Kyle Penniston, but was intercepted by senior defensive back Saquan Hampton. Midway through the second quarter, Hornibrook was again picked off by Hampton, as he jumped Hornibrook’s pass to Danny Davis.
However, neither interception resulted in points for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights were forced to punt following his first interception, and Andrew Van Ginkel blocked sophomore kicker Justin Davidovicz’s 45-yard field goal attempt after the second interception.
Wisconsin’s lone first half touchdown came on their first drive of the game, as they went 65 yards on six plays, highlighted by a 29 yard reception from Danny Davis. Tayler capped off the drive with a five yard touchdown, the first of his three on the afternoon.
Wisconsin utilized its longest drive of the season to extend their lead to 10-0, going 78 yards in 18 plays, resulting in a 32-yard field goal from Rafael Gaglianone.
Rutgers briefly made it a two possession game late in the fourth quarter, with Jonathan Hilliman punching in a one yard card touchdown to cut the lead to 24-10. UW quickly put any chance of a late Rutgers comeback to bed, answering with a 10 play, 75 yard touchdown drive to extend their lead to 31-10. Coan found Davis in the back of the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown, the second of Coan’s career.
After two poor performances in the last three weeks, Wisconsin got what it needed in Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights punted on seven of their 11 drives, only finding the end zone on their last two possessions of the game. As Jonathan Taylor added to his impressive Heisman resume, Hornibrook suffered his second concussion in three weeks, leaving his availability for Penn State, and the rest of the season, cloudy.