The Wisconsin Badgers hit the road for the first time in 2017 and it is a road game full of firsts for the Badgers, as they travel to Provo, Utah to take on the BYU Cougars for the first time at their stadium.
BYU will have a few familiar names, as former Badgers recruits Austin Kafentzis and Ula Tolutau are running backs for the Cougars this season. But, what other interesting facts and figures should you know heading in to the game at 2:30pm CT on Saturday.
Here are the 10 things you need to know about this matchup on Saturday.
1: That is the number of passing touchdowns Wisconsin has allowed this season.
It puts the Badgers in rare company, as only 14 schools in FBS football have yet to give up a passing touchdown so far this season. Of those 14, five of them have played just one game so we’ll see where things stand after Week 3 is done. We point this out because UW’s pass defense has been a lot of bending and little breaking, while BYU comes in to this game with the No. 107 ranked passing attack in the country.
2: Wisconsin had 2 running backs go for over 100 yards against FAU.
Badgers fans may have been spoiled by years of running backs gone wild on opposing defenses. However, last weekend the Badgers had two 100-yard rushers and that was the first time since Corey Clement and Dare Ogunbowale did it against Illinois last season and the first 200-100 yard game by a pair of UW running backs since Melvin Gordon (253) and Corey Clement (111) got loose against Bowling Green in 2014.
3: This will be the third all-time meeting between the two schools.
Wisconsin and BYU have split the previous two meetings, with the Badgers winning the most recent contest, 27-17, back on Nov. 9, 2013. Both of those meetings came in Madison, so this will be the first meeting between the two in Provo, Utah. Who isn’t excited about Badger nation clashing with non-drinking, non-caffeine folks out West?
4: Jonathan Taylor’s 4 rushing touchdowns leads the nation’s freshman running backs.
We all know Jonathan Taylor went nuts last week, rushing for 223 yards. But, that also included three touchdowns on the day and four on the season so far. That total leads all freshmen, but so does the 155.0 yards per game to date. Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins may be getting a ton of the publicity, but Taylor leads the nation and has won over this writer on a national scale.
5: BYU’s leading rusher averages 5.0 yards per carry
With Jamaal Williams off the Green Bay Packers, it is likely you’ve never heard of BYU’s leading rusher after three weeks — Squally Canada. He’s obviously averaging a decent 5.0 yards per carry, but he’s also only racked up 109 yards on a lowly 22 carries over those three games. BYU’s offense is still trying to find an identity and that clearly hasn’t included a strong rushing effort.
6: Wisconsin has allowed 6 big plays (20 yards or more) on the season
Through two games, the Badgers have allowed six big plays to Utah State and Florida Atlantic combined. Four of those plays came last weekend against the Owls. However, despite giving up big plays, the Badgers defense hasn’t been burned by it just yet. Only one of those six plays to go for 20 yards or more has resulted in a touchdown. Can that trend continue against a Cougars offense struggling to find an identity?
7: Alex Hornibrook has thrown seven passes of 20 yards or more already this season
The Sophomore quarterback drew the ire of UW fans last weekend after missing on some big plays down field. However, he has seven passes that have gone for 20 yards or more already this season. Two of those passes — a 28-yard catch and run by tight end Zander Neuville and a 21-yard hit to Quentez Cephus — have gone for touchdowns as well. Three of the seven passes beyond 20 yards have gone for 30 or more yards, with tight end Troy Fumagalli on the receiving end of
8: UW’s defense forced 8 three-and-outs in the win last weekend against FAU
Hidden inside that incredible number is the fact that the Owls went 0-for-6 in the second half on third downs. In fact, every one of the Owls’ six possessions in the half ended with a punt. To date, the Badgers area allowing opponents to convert on just 23.3 percent (7 of 30) third down attempts — a number that is second in the Big Ten and on pace to beat last season’s mark of 27.9 percent on third downs.
9: BYU has scored 9 of its 33 points off of turnovers in three games this season
There’s little doubt that Wisconsin’s defensive numbers jump off the page after the first two weeks, but there is one stat that can’t be ignored and that is the fact that UW’s offensive mistakes have been turned in to points by the opposition so far this year. 14 of UW’s 24 points given up to opponents this season have come via turnovers. That’s not a knock on the defense, but combined with the fact that BYU has taken all three turnovers and turned them in to points it’s something to keep an eye on for this contest.
10: Wisconsin recorded 10.0 tackles for loss last week against Florida Atlantic
One of the hallmarks of Wisconsins’ defense since the arrival of the 3-4 scheme under Dave Aranda and beyond has been the ability to attack behind the line of scrimmage. UW recorded the most tackles for loss in a single game since its defense put up 11 tackles for loss in a win over Illinois back on Oct. 11, 2014. UW’s 8 tackles for loss in the season opener was the previous high since the 9 that were recorded in the Holiday Bowl victory over USC. Additionally, Wisconsin’s average of 9.0 tackles for loss is 10th in the country after two weeks.