Wisconsin hit the road for the first time this season, but was still a heavy favorite against BYU even after a sluggish performance the previous week in a win over Florida Atlantic.
There was nothing sluggish about the Badgers against the Cougars as they manhandled BYU 40-6.
Nearly everything Wisconsin did, worked.
The run game overwhelmed BYU, with freshman Jonathan Taylor gaining 128 yards with a touchdown. Alex Hornibrook had a game for ages as he tossed four touchdown passes. In all, Wisconsin held the ball for two-thirds of the game, scoring on six of nine drives with another an 11-play effort to finish out the game clock.
Meanwhile, the defense picked off first-time BYU starting quarterback Beau Hoge on his first pass attempt and held the Cougars' offense to 192 total yards.
After two games in which Wisconsin had a number of flaws, the Badgers were looking to turn in a complete game. Mission accomplished.
Last week we said Jonathan Taylor was a no-brainer for this award. We're not sure what that makes Alex Hornibrook this week. Hornibrook had as good a game as any quarterback in Wisconsin history -- and that's not hyperbole. The redshirt sophomore completed 18 of 19 passes -- with the only incompletion a drop by Danny Davis -- for 256 yards and four touchdowns. The 94.4 percent completion percentage tied a Wisconsin single-game record set by Darren Bevell in 1996. His 277.4 passer rating is topped only by John Stocco's 296.7 against Indiana in 2006. The four touchdowns weren't a record, but only two have thrown more in Badgers history. It was the last time a UW QB had four TD passes since Russell Wilson in 2011. And his passes (not just the ones for touchdowns) had an impact -- 10 of the 18 completions went for 10 or more yards, with nine of those going for 15+ yards. No, Hornibrook wasn't perfect -- some of his passes were high or sailed and his deep ball to Danny Davis was underthrown -- but he was about as close as one can get.
DON'T FORGET ABOUT ME
Count me as one who thinks the Wisconsin offensive line normally gets too much credit based on 1. Past offensive lines; 2. They are really, really big. But against BYU, kudos have to be given. One starter was out (Jon Dietzen), another was questionable to play (Beau Benzschawel) and then a third, Michael Dieter, was hobbling during the game. But, for the most part, the line gave Hornibrook plenty of time to throw and was getting a good push on running plays all day (helping Jonathan Taylor average 7.1 yards per carry). There were some issues (four holding penalties, one sack), but there always will be. Bottom line is the battle of the trenches really wasn't a battle at all. It was a one-sided affair.
In the second quarter after Wisconsin took a 10-3 lead, the Badgers held BYU to a three-and-out. Wisconsin then ran the ball down BYU's throat -- setting the trend for the rest of the game -- rushing the ball on eight consecutive plays to get the ball to the Cougars' 12-yard line. And then UW changed things up, with Alex Hornibrook hooking up with Quintez Cephus for the first of their two touchdown passes. But it was the run game that wore out the Cougars. "I think Wisconsin loves to do what they did today, which is run the ball really hard and tire you out," BYU linebacker Butch Pau’u said.
0. In the second halves of games this season, Wisconsin has yet to allow a point. Not one. Three straight shutouts over the last two quarters. In this instance, it helped that the Badgers controlled the ball for a great majority of the half. BYU had the ball for just 6:31 and gained all of 25 total yards -- minus-3 in the fourth quarter. Yeah, the Badgers won't keep this up, but talk about closing the door shut.
THEY SAID IT
"I thought Alex (Hornibrook) saw the field really well. I thought he was decisive. He played really sharp and clean. He was in better rhythm than he was last week." -- head coach Paul Chryst
"That’s one thing I kind of pride myself about is my accuracy, and I knew some people were questioning that last week. I’ve heard the arm strength thing my whole life. I don’t care too much about that. [The accuracy] is one thing I pride myself in, and it kind of irritated me last week." -- Hornibrook
"If I were to put into words the game, I thought we were overwhelmed as a group." -- BYU head coach Kalani Sitake
“He acknowledged that Wisconsin came in here and kicked our butts." -- BYU tight end tight end Matt Bushman on what Sitake told them
Kirby LeeKirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Wisconsin won't play again for two weeks, off next Saturday before hosting Northwestern on Sept. 30 to open Big Ten play. The Wildcats are 2-1 after wins at home over Nevada and Bowling Green and a loss at Duke. Northwestern has won two of the last three matchups with Wisconsin scoring just a combined 41 points.