No. 6 Wisconsin 59, South Dakota 10
MADISON, Wis. (AP)
When it was all over, South Dakota coach Ed Meierkort could take some solace in the fact that his team won't be the only one blown out by No. 6 Wisconsin this year.
Not that such wisdom - or the financial implications of a game against a superior opponent - did much to help the mood in his locker room after being routed 59-10 by the Badgers on Saturday.
''You know there's two ways to look at it - as long as the check clears, it's a win,'' Meierkort said. ''That's one way to look at it. But we're football coaches and we have a lot of pride. We're the 18th-ranked team in our level. We're not used to this. It's going to take us a little time to get over this.''
Quarterback Dante Warren struggled for South Dakota (2-2). He eventually was replaced by Josh Vander Maten, who led the Coyotes to a late score.
''I guess what you take from a game like this is to keep fighting and keep improving,'' Warren said. ''And it makes us look forward to what is important for us which is winning our conference and winning that ring.''
Nick Toon had a career-high 155 yards receiving and two touchdowns as Wisconsin (4-0) recovered from a slow start to take control of the game with a 21-point outburst in the final six minutes of the second quarter.
James White had a 49-yard touchdown run, Toon scored on a 59-yard catch-and-run from quarterback Russell Wilson and Toon added another score with 12 seconds left to send Wisconsin into halftime with a 31-3 lead.
''We're in a different world than this group is,'' said Meierkort, who began his head coaching career at Wisconsin-Stout. ''We understood that coming in. We have to move on. They have their agenda and we have ours.''
Wilson had another big day for the Badgers, completing 19 of 25 passes for 345 yards and three touchdowns before taking a seat in the fourth quarter.
Running back Montee Ball added a pair of touchdowns for Wisconsin, which will open its Big Ten schedule at home next Saturday against No. 9 Nebraska.
''It was a learning experience,'' Coyotes defensive end Tyler Starr said. ''We have to take what we learned and hopefully put it into a conference championship.''
The Coyotes came into Saturday's game with some experience on the road in the Big Ten, having won at Minnesota last season. What they didn't have was an answer for Toon, the son of former Wisconsin and New York Jets standout Al Toon.
Wisconsin didn't appear headed toward a rout early on, squandering a handful of scoring chances and allowing the Coyotes to stick around into the second quarter.
Trailing 7-0 after a touchdown by Ball, South Dakota drove into Wisconsin territory on back-to-back possessions in the first quarter - only to have them both end with interceptions by Wisconsin's defense.
But the Badgers managed only three points off of the two turnovers, a 25-yard field goal by Kyle French. French also missed a 50-yard attempt.
Wisconsin then allowed an even deeper drive by the Coyotes, holding on third-and-goal and forcing South Dakota to settle for a 24-yard field goal by Kevin Robb to cut the Wisconsin lead to 10-3 with 6:34 left in the second quarter.
Then Wisconsin took over, running off three straight touchdowns before halftime.
''When it was 10-3, we were living on the edge, we knew that,'' Meierkort said. ''But our kids felt like they could compete for a while. I can see that. We watched this team on film, too, and wanted to make sure we gave it our all as long as we can. I thought they did. We just got overwhelmed by a superior team.''