Wisconsin pulls away from Nebraska, moves to 5-0
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) Freshman Johnathan Taylor rushed for a season-high 249 yards and two touchdowns to lead a punishing ground game that helped ninth-ranked Wisconsin wear down Nebraska in the second half of a 38-17 win Saturday night.
The Badgers (5-0, 2-0) beat the Huskers (3-3, 2-1) for the fifth straight time and took sole possession of first place in the Big Ten West.
Taylor, who had his second 200-yard performance in five games, carried 25 times while recording the third-most rushing yards ever by a Nebraska opponent. His night was highlighted by a 75-yard touchdown run.
“I thought J.T. was special tonight,” Badgers coach Paul Chryst said. “Certainly the big run at the end of the first half, but he had some hard 7-, 8-yard runs. He’s continuing to get better.”
The Badgers went to the run almost exclusively on three straight scoring drives after Nebraska’s Aaron Williams returned an interception to tie it 17-all early in the third quarter.
They ran on eight of 10 plays while going 93 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, which Quintez Cephus scored on a 5-yard pass. Next time they ran on all 10 plays as they went 80 yards, with Taylor bulling in from the 2. After Stanley Morgan fumbled on the Huskers’ ensuing possession, they ran 10 times for 40 yards, with Bradrick Shaw scoring from the 1.
“We pinned them inside the 10, and it was a great opportunity for us, but they very mechanically, methodically and physically did what they do,” Nebraska coach Mike Riley said. “They controlled the ball on the ground.”
The Badgers ended Nebraska’s 20-game win streak in home night games since 2008.
Devine Ozigbo had 112 yards on 23 carries for the Huskers.
Wisconsin had a pick-six of its own when Chris Orr snagged a ball that glanced off intended receiver Ozigbo and returned it 78 yards on the game’s fifth play from scrimmage. It was the fourth pick-six thrown by Tanner Lee this season and his 10th interception.
The Huskers gouged the nation’s No. 4 defense for more than 300 yards in the first half but didn’t score until just before halftime. Lee and Stanley Morgan Jr. hooked up for an 80-yard catch-and-run, Nebraska’s longest pass play since 2014.
The Badgers were back up 17-7 after the first play of their next series, with Taylor going 75 yards untouched for Wisconsin’s longest play from scrimmage since 2014.
Wisconsin: The Badgers still own the Huskers, having beaten them six out of seven times since Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 2011.
Nebraska: The Huskers managed only 68 yards in the second half after amassing 313 in the first. The 21-point loss only increases the pressure on Riley.
Wisconsin hosts Purdue and will go for its 12th straight win in the series.
Nebraska hosts No. 10 Ohio State, which beat the Huskers 62-3 last year.