Coming in as a heavy favorite in its season opener, Wisconsin didn't disappoint. There's no preseason in college football, so a slow start like the Badgers had perhaps can be excused.
But eventually Wisconsin's talent bore out. Led by quarterback Alex Hornibrook (257 passing yards, two touchdowns) and running back Jonathan Taylor (145 rushing yards, two TDs) the Badgers gained 491 yards and tallied 34 points.
The defense was stingy enough -- and was helped out by a couple of Western Kentucky miscues -- surrendering only a field goal and only allowing 300 yards due to a final play of the game which occurred only because of a Wisconsin penalty.
It might not have been the best gauge for the season and there are some things to clean up, but all things considered, it was a fine way to start the year.
Off to a sluggish start, Jonathan Taylor woke up Wisconsin and the Badgers faithful in the stands when he busted through for a 47-yard touchdown run at the end of the first quarter. Taylor did it again late in the second quarter, rambling for a 30-yard score. He'd finish with 147 yards -- the 11th time in 15 career games he's topped 100 yards -- on just 18 carries. And provided an offensive punch just when UW needed it. On the down side, Taylor did lose a fumble late in the third quarter; ball control was an issue last year as well. But Taylor did enough before the miscue to earn this honor.
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DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME
It didn't take long to figure out Scott Nelson is going to be a fan favorite. The redshirt freshman safety, part of a mostly young and inexperienced secondary, showed a nose for the ball -- nearly picking off a pass in the first quarter and finishing with a team-high two passes broken up -- as well as the ability to lay the wood, delivering a couple of crunching hits among his seven tackles, which tied for the team lead. Nelson also had a tackle for loss. It was an impressive start for a defense which had a solid start to the 2018 campaign.
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Holding onto 10-0 lead midway through the second quarter, Wisconsin was facing a third-and-10 at the 50. Facing a potential punting situation, Hornibrook escaped mild pressure, stepped up in the pocket, ran up and bit to the left and hit Kendric Pryor (open despite two defenders near him) for a 20-yard gain. Next play, Jonathan Taylor scored his second touchdown and this one appeared to be over other than the final score.
9 -- targets for A.J. Taylor, most on the Badgers. In case you were wondering who would be the No. 1 receiver with Quintez Cephus and Danny Davis suspended, Taylor got the most looks in the first game. This maybe isn't a surprise seeing as how Taylor had 10 targets in the Orange Bowl, but previous to that game his high had been five (done twice, vs. Utah State and Indiana), but he was far and away Hornibrook's favorite receiver (Pryor was next, with five). Another number to keep in mind though is two -- Taylor's drops (he led Wisconsin with four in 2017).
THEY SAID IT
"Obviously J.T. had a couple big runs, and yet I just talked to him and there's things that we've got to (improve) — he'll see and I think he knows now that he can clean up and go. But you know, he gave us a heck of a spark." -- head coach Paul Chryst on Jonathan Taylor
"There's always a possibility a game won't be as clean as you want it to be. You want to be as clean as possible. If it doesn't go that way, it is not surprising. It happens, especially in game one." -- guard Michael Deiter
"It's always good to be versatile. Troy Fumagalli taught me that if you're going to catch some passes you might as well get some good blocks in there every once in a while. I kind of took that to heart last year working on it and I've been working on my blocking all through spring ball. I still have a lot of work to do but I'm taking the right steps." -- tight end Jake Ferguson, who had a key block on Jonathan Taylor's first TD
"Hats off and credit to an unbelievably talented and well-oiled machine in Wisconsin and its football team." -- WKU head coach Mike Sanford
If you weren't overly enthusiastic with Wisconsin's competition in its opening game then you'll be even less thrilled next Saturday when the Badgers host New Mexico at 11 a.m. The Lobos, who are led by former Notre Dame coach Bob Davie, went 3-9 last season (with one of those wins coming against an FCS team) and aren't expected to be much better in 2018. However, there's a good chance New Mexico will come in at 1-0 as the Lobos open their season Saturday night against FCS Incarnate Word, which went 1-10 in 2017.