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No. 8 Wisconsin routs No. 20 Iowa
MADISON, Wis. — Senior outside linebacker Leon Jacobs helped No. 8 Wisconsin’s defense attain a couple slots in the program’s record book.
Jacobs had a fumble recovery for a touchdown and a second recovery that led to a score in the Badgers’ 38-14 win over No. 20 Iowa on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium. Jacobs’ TD was a career first for the veteran, who has played in 55 games.
Freshman wide receiver Kendric Pryor posted the first receiving and rushing scores of his college career for Wisconsin (10-0, 7-0 Big Ten), which entered Saturday as one of only five unbeaten teams in the nation.
The Badgers’ 10-0 mark is the best start to a season in program history. The Hawkeyes only mustered 66 overall yards on offense, the fewest allowed by a Wisconsin team in a Big Ten game.
The Badgers earned a berth in the Big Ten Championship with the win and at least a share of the West Division title. Northwestern still could gain a share of the West title but the Badgers will advance to the championship, based on a potential tiebreaker.
Iowa (6-4, 3-4) was 0-for-13 on third downs. Hawkeyes sophomore quarterback Nate Stanley, fresh off a five-touchdown performance in a win last week against Ohio State, completed 8 of 24 passes for 41 yards and one interception.
Wisconsin sophomore quarterback Alex Hornibrook said, season after season, defense has been a difference-maker.
“They’ve been doing that ever since I’ve been here,” Hornibrook said. “It’s a crazy (good) defense and a crazy group of guys.
“Those turnovers they had and how they were able to stop (Iowa) from getting first downs like that, it was awesome. They gave us a chance to win.”
Freshman running back Jonathan Taylor had 29 carries for 157 yards to log his seventh 100-plus yard game of the season.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said he was impressed with Taylor and Wisconsin’s mettle on defense.
“It was the first time we’ve seen him,” Ferentz said of the true freshman. “He’s a very good player, a very strong player.
“Then their defense, better than advertised. Not that they haven’t been playing well. I can’t imagine they played a better game than they played today.”
The Badgers endured despite a sloppy first-half effort on offense with two interceptions by Hornibrook and a fumble from Taylor.
It didn’t take long for Iowa to get on the scoreboard. Hawkeyes cornerback Josh Jackson picked off Hornibrook less than two minutes into the game, returning it 43 yards for a score at 13:30 of the first quarter.
Pryor’s first touchdown — a 25-yard rushing score — capped a five-play drive that lasted 5:51 and gave Wisconsin a 10-7 lead at 8:55 of the second quarter.
Pryor caught a 12-yard Hornibrook pass for a score with 1:19 left in the first half that pushed Wisconsin’s lead to 17-7.
Meanwhile, Jackson maintained his solid effort and nabbed his second interception off a tipped pass in the third quarter, running it back 52 yards for a touchdown that cut Wisconsin’s lead to 17-14 at 11:18.
The Badgers extended their lead to 24-14 on a 21-yard score off a fumble recovery by Jacobs, when the ball squirted out amid a pile of players on the Iowa 21-yard line with 6:10 to go in the third quarter.
Wisconsin’s defense continued its domination as inside linebacker T.J. Edwards leapt to intercept a Stanley pass on a one-handed grab at the Badgers’ 41-yard line with 18 seconds left in the third quarter.
Hornibrook completed 11 of 18 passes for 135 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Even though Hornibrook struggles with taking care of the football, Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said that he and the coaching staff always are looking for ways to help the quarterback improve.
“I think you’re trying to find out how can you help him?” Chryst said. “He’s made a lot of really good plays, and big plays for us, and certainly there is a theme of turnovers. They’re all a little bit different.
“I think you’ve got to look at the whole picture. You can’t just be the result of it.”
Entering the game, Hornibrook was ranked 12th nationally in passing efficiency with a rating of 158.3.
NOTES: Wisconsin QB Alex Hornibrook has thrown an interception in seven straight Big Ten Conference games. ... Badgers coach Paul Chryst said two days ago that Quintez Cephus, team’s leading receiver, was ruled out for the remainder of the season due to a right leg injury. ... Iowa junior CB Joshua Jackson has had five interceptions in the last two games.