State Journal reporter Jason Galloway breaks down the matchup between the Wisconsin Badgers and BYU Cougars on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
WHEN THE BADGERS HAVE THE BALL
Heisman Trophy candidate Jonathan Taylor is coming off a career-best 253 rushing yards and three touchdowns in last week's 45-15 win over New Mexico. Through two games, Taylor has rushed for 398 yards and five TDs. Wide receiver A.J. Taylor also posted a career-high vs. the Lobos with 134 receiving yards and a score. Sophomore wide receiver Danny Davis returns this week after a two-game suspension.
While the Badgers have suffered from some offensive miscues in their first two games, they’re averaging nearly 40 points per game and have the talent to put up a big number against BYU. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook completed 18 of 19 passes for 256 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in UW’s 40-6 win at BYU last season. The Cougars rank in the middle of the pack at 65th among FBS teams in total defense, allowing an average of 362 yards through two games against Power Five opponents Arizona and California. BYU has only one sack this year after totaling just 17 last season, which ranked 111th in the country.
EDGE | UW
KEY STAT | TIME OF POSSESSION
BYU ranks 26th nationally in time of possession through two weeks after finishing outside the top 100 of FBS teams last season. The Badgers currently rank ninth in that category after finishing second last year.
WHEN THE COUGARS HAVE THE BALL
BYU’s offense has struggled at times in the Cougars' first two games — a 28-23 win at Arizona and a 21-18 home loss to Cal. Quarterback Tanner Mangum has completed 40 of 69 passes for 405 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Squally Canada leads BYU's under-performing ground game with 154 yards on 40 carries (3.7 yards per carry).
UW’s defense replaced seven starters in the offseason but put together two encouraging performances to start the year. The Badgers rank 15th in the nation in total defense, allowing 258 yards per game, and are tied for seventh in scoring defense. Reserve outside linebacker Tyler Johnson enters the weekend questionable to play after suffering a left leg injury on the first drive against New Mexico, while true freshman safety Reggie Pearson (left leg) is out and will need to wait at least one more week to make his UW debut. Defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk could see his snap count increased after making his return from offseason knee surgery last week.
EDGE | UW
KEY STAT | SCORING DEFENSE
In four seasons under Paul Chryst, the Badgers' defense has held opponents without an offensive touchdown in 13 of 43 games (30.2%), including last year’s 40-6 win at BYU.
BYU is breaking in freshman kicker Skyler Southam, who made his only field goal attempt of the season against Cal last week. Senior Rafael Gaglianone needs just three more field goals to break UW’s career record of 65.
Neither the Badgers nor Cougars have produced much in the return game, although both teams’ coverage units looked strong over the first two games.
EDGE | UW
BYU's Kalani Sitake is in the third year coaching his alma mater, trying to bounce back from a 4-9 season in 2017 after leading the Cougars to a 9-4 record in his first year.
Paul Chryst has a 36-7 record as the Badgers’ coach, winning 16 of his past 17 games.
EDGE | UW
BYU is motivated to have a better showing against UW after last year’s 34-point loss.
The Badgers have a vital Big Ten game at Iowa to look ahead to next week.
EDGE | BYU
STATE JOURNAL'S PICK
UW might see a much-improved BYU team from last season, but the Badgers should be capable of leaving Camp Randall with another comfortable victory.
BADGERS 31, COUGARS 10
THE NUMBER (UW)
150 | Games as a member of UW’s coaching staff for Paul Chryst after Saturday’s game against BYU. The Badgers are 114-35 with Chryst on staff, including stints as tight ends coach (2002), offensive coordinator (2005-11) and head coach (2015-present).
THE NUMBER (BYU)
3 | Years since the Cougars defeated a ranked team — a 35-24 home win over No. 20 Boise State on Sept. 12, 2015.