Wisconsin had a tougher time than expected last weekend against Florida Atlantic, but at least it looks like the team found a new star. Freshman running back Jonathan Taylor will try to stay hot Saturday, when the 12th-ranked Badgers hit the road for the first time this season to face BYU.
Taylor needed only nine carries to rack up 87 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 against Utah State and took on a much larger role versus Florida Atlantic, carrying the ball 26 times for 223 yards and three scores. “I’m just out there having fun,” Taylor told reporters. “On the wall, as we’re coming up from the tunnel, it says, ‘Have fun, play the game.’ You have to be grateful that you’re here, you’re here having fun. But it is humbling to be mentioned with the things I’m doing. But I just have fun and play the game.” The Cougars are facing their third consecutive power-five opponent and trying to avoid a third straight loss after falling to LSU and Utah. “We can’t hang our heads,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake told reporters after the 19-13 loss to rival Utah last Saturday. “We have to move on and learn as much as we can from this game. We have a top-10 team coming into town next week.”
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC. LINE: Wisconsin -15.5
ABOUT WISCONSIN (2-0): The Badgers were expected to roll over Florida Atlantic after posting an impressive opening win over Utah State, but quarterback Alex Hornibrook threw his first interception of the campaign and struggled to find a rhythm while completing 16-of-28 passes. The running game took some of the pressure off Hornibrook, as Chris James complemented Taylor’s big day with 101 yards on 16 carries. Wisconsin’s defense has shown an ability to make adjustments at halftime and has yet to allow any points after the break.
ABOUT BYU (1-2): The Cougars are working on limiting mistakes on offense as quarterback Tanner Mangum has thrown one touchdown pass and four interceptions in the last two weeks, including three picks against Utah at home. The Cougars have their own freshman running back in Ula Tolutau, who totaled one carry in the first two games but ended up leading the team’s meager rushing attack with 25 yards and a score against the Utes. BYU is stronger on the other side of the ball with three turnovers forced and an average of 17.3 points allowed in its first three games.
1. Wisconsin OLB Leon Jacobs has recorded four tackles for loss, the highest mark among Big Ten players.
2. Freshman TE Matt Bushman leads the Cougars in receiving with 13 catches for 149 yards.
3. The Badgers are playing their first-ever game in the state of Utah and first true road contest against a non-conference foe since 2013.
PREDICTION: Wisconsin 34, BYU 17