Two weeks after their dismantling in Columbus, the Wisconsin Badgers proved they still have a lot to play for and the trophy hunting Wisconsin Badgers look to get that started this weekend.
Settling into Madison on a brisk Saturday evening was the Iowa Hawkeyes. On the line? Not only likely an elimination game for a trip to the Big Ten Championship game, but also the battle for the Heartland Trophy. Bucky prevailed against their close rivals thanks to a standout performance by star tailback Jonathan Taylor. Taylor had a classic performance, totaling 250 yards on the ground on 31 carries. None of those yards came more timely than on the last possession, as the Badgers used the Heisman and Doak Walker contender to gash Iowa and melt the clock away to seal the victory.
Trophy Hunting Wisconsin Badgers
The week after? The Badgers traveled to Lincoln to take on rival Nebraska. It proved to be every bit of a challenge and more. Cornhuskers quarterback Adrian Martinez had one of his best games of the season. Throughout much of the game, Martinez routinely had the Wisconsin defense on the ropes. Fortunately for Bucky, big days from Taylor coupled with huge plays by Reggie Pearson, A.J. Taylor, and Aron Cruickshank sealed a 37-21 victory.
However, the best news of the day for Paul Chryst’s crew came from Iowa City. There, the Hawkeyes knocked off the then-undefeated and West Division-leading Minnesota Golden Gophers 23-19. The Gophers were gashed in the first half before leading a comeback that ultimately fell just short. Standing at now 9-1, their Cinderella season still has some possible magic left in it if they can win out. Which would include a win against you know who…
Wisconsin’s Path To Indy
So where does this leave us entering the last two weeks of the regular season? Wisconsin now controls its own destiny. Win, and you’re in. Sounds simple. Will it be? Likely no. Coming to Madison is a Purdue team playing its best football of the year. It will be senior day at Camp Randall Stadium for a senior class that is one of the most successful in program history. Graduates include defensive leaders Zack Baun and Chris Orr, as well as the aforementioned Taylor. This small, but dedicated group is a shining example of what makes the Wisconsin football program so special. This may also be the final game in Madison for Jonathon Taylor. If it is, he will likely cement his status as the best Badger running back of all time.
Get through that and it will come down to a showdown with Minnesota. This game could have so many implications, from the battle for the Axe to a trip to Indianapolis. Certainly, it is the most high profile match up between the two in the last decade. As long as both parties hold up their ends of the bargain this Saturday, then we should be in for a doozy of a battle in Minneapolis.
As we can see, Bucky still has plenty to play for. Not only are they hunting for the Axe that was finally taken from them, in brutal fashion I might add. But they are now firmly in control of where the rest of this season can go. Win and a trip to the Rose Bowl is on the line for a group that has made for an incredible comeback season after a down year in 2018.
Buckle up Badger fans, Bucky is back on the prowl.