'Goose Egg Gang' defense key to Wisconsin building College Football Playoff momentum

The Badger defense ranks tops in the entire country, propelling Wisconsin up the AP rankings.

The Badger defense ranks tops in the entire country, propelling Wisconsin up the AP rankings.

Image By: Will Cioci

“We want to be like the monsters of the midway, we want to be the no-name defense of the Dolphins,” Senior linebacker Chris Orr said. “Probably more so the no-name defense because we want to be a selfless defense, we want everyone to get a piece.”

Those are lofty comparisons for any defense, but to this point in the season, the Wisconsin defense has lived up to those types of comparisons. 

The stats speak for themselves. 

Through six games, the Badgers have allowed just 29 points, or 4.8 points per game – the best mark in the country. 

The Wisconsin defense has managed to shutout the opposing offense in four of their six games played so far, earning them the nickname “Goose Egg Gang.” The last time a UW defense had three shutouts in a season was in 1930.  

Jonathan Taylor often leaves the rest of the team speechless with his performances, but the way the defense is playing has now left Taylor at a loss of words.

“Those guys, they’re playing lights out,” Taylor said. “I don’t have any other words.”

The incredible statistics for the Wisconsin defense just keep on going. 

They have allowed just 29 points on the season but have also scored 28 points of their own. UW has scored as many touchdowns on defense as they have allowed – four – courtesy of three pick-sixes and a fumble recovery. 

The Badgers defense also tops the nation in just about every major statistical category. They now own the best mark for rush defense, pass defense, total defense, scoring defense, yards per play allowed and third-down defense. 

Those skeptical of Wisconsin’s performance so far have point to the “soft” schedule that UW has had to this point, Although the Badgers can’t control who they play on Saturdays, they can control how well they execute and play. They beat their three non-conference opponents by a combined score of 158-0. This past weekend “goose egg gang” was at it again, holding Michigan State scoreless on homecoming weekend. 

The Badgers take pride in keeping a zero on the board throughout all four quarters. Against Michigan State, starting corners Rachad Wildgoose and Faion Hicks voluntarily came back into the game for the final plays of the game to preserve the shutout. 

Wildgoose, a sophomore, secured the shutout with an interception in the red zone. 

“It just shows how dominant we can be” senior linebacker Chris Orr said. 

Orr was the one who dubbed UW “goose egg gang” in honor of the frequency in which they’ve been able to record a shutout. 

The defense has been led by the linebacker duo of Zach Baun and Chris Orr. They lead a group that has generated 23 sacks through six weeks, which is already better than the 19 sacks the unit recorded through 13 games in 2018. 

Though Baun and Orr are clearly the leaders of the defense, the whole group was looking to bounce back from a disappointing 8-5 campaign a year ago. 

Every member of the defense has improved from last year. Faion Hicks and Chris Orr have emphasized a “no switch” mentality to the guys on both sides of the ball to stay focused through all stages of preparation and every stage of a game, from start to finish. 

That mentality has allowed the Badgers and the defense specifically to get off to quick starts. Wisconsin has not given lesser opponents any chance early in the game – UW has outscored its opponents 152-3 in the first halves of games this year.

While the Badgers do not have a ton of household names, they have all done their job and contributed to a 6-0 start for UW. 

“It’s a lot of no-name guys on this team that people don’t really know about until they actually play them,” Junior safety Eric Burrell said. “And then after the game, they’re like, ‘Oh damn.’”

“It doesn’t matter who we play, it’s just nameless, faceless opponents,” Orr said.

“I’ve never been a part of a defense like this,” Burrell added. 

UW’s preparation and mentality throughout the season have been key, and it will be crucial as they enter the toughest part of their schedule, including road trips to Ohio State and Minnesota and a home game against Iowa.  

“I’ve never been a part of a defense like this,” Burrell said. 

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