Football: Badgers fall short in defensive battle with Hawkeyes

first_imgIn a game dominated by defensive play, the Wisconsin football team fell just short in their Big Ten opener Saturday to Iowa, losing 10-6 in the battle for the Heartland Trophy.No. 19 Wisconsin had one final chance at the end of the game with 40 seconds left and the team in good position on the Hawkeye’s 16-yard line.However, on 4th-and-2 with the game on the line, fifth-year quarterback JoelStave dropped back to pass and missed redshirt sophomore tight end Troy Fumagalli for what was his 17th and final incompletion of the day.Offensively, the Badgers put in their poorest performance of the season thus far, totaling 320 yards. But they committed four turnovers, coming at the hands of two fumbles and two interceptions from Stave ultimately limited the overall effectiveness of the offense.Breakdown: Iowa 10, Wisconsin 6For the second straight season, the Wisconsin football team dropped its Big Ten opener. This year, the Badgers (3-2, 0-1 Read…To make matters worse for Wisconsin, fifth-year senior wide receiver Alex Erickson left the game in the third quarter with a possible concussion, and fifth-year senior tight end Austin Traylor was also sidelined with an apparent arm injury.And while being without two of their top targets in the passing game didn’t do them any favors, it isn’t an excuse for UW’s poor offensive play, according to head coach Paul Chryst.“You want to have all your guys if you can,” Chryst said. “New guys have to step in, and we’re not unique in that area. But you always want your players playing.”With all of Wisconsin’s offensive struggles, it was the play of their defense that kept the team in the game.Senior linebacker Joe Schobert, who might have played his best game as a Badger, led the defensive effort, as he finished with a team-high five quarterback hurries, two sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and 3.5 tackles for a loss. In total, he recorded eight tackles for UW, in what was an absolute monster day for the linebacker.But despite his dominance, Schobert gives most of the credit to defensive coordinator Dave Aranda.“Coach Aranda does a great job of putting us in situations on defense where we have matchups in our favor,” Schobert said. “It’s just when those opportunities to make plays present themselves, you have to take advantage.”The other UW linebackers were also very active, as senior linebacker Vince Biegel, redshirt freshman T.J. Edwards and freshman Chris combined for 32 tackles Saturday.Fifth-year senior safety Michael Caputo also left his mark on the game, recording a momentum-shifting interception in the third quarter on top of seven tackles.In the end, Wisconsin’s defensive dominance was not enough to overcome their abysmal offensive performance.“It’s disappointing,” Stave said. “I thought the defense did a tremendous job continuing to battle and giving us opportunities. We just have to come away with something.”Stave went 21-for-38 for 234 and no touchdowns, while UW’s top receiver was redshirt junior running back Dare Ogunbowale, who finished with four catches for 43 yards.Ogunbowale added 28 yards rushing on 11 carries, while redshirt freshman running back Taiwan Deal led the way in the Badgers’ backfield with 59 rushing yards on 11 carries.But despite the disheartening loss for Wisconsin, they were in this same situation just a year ago, as they lost 2014’s Big Ten opener to Northwestern in heartbreaking fashion. And despite that, UW still managed to reach the Big Ten championship game.Schobert made sure to remind all of his teammates of that following the conclusion of Saturday’s game.“I just reminded them like last year, we have a chance,” Schobert said. “If we grind out the rest of the season and win all our games everything we wanted to achieve at the beginning of the season is still within our reach.”After spending the previous four weeks at home, Wisconsin will travel to Nebraska next Saturday where they will take on the Cornhuskers as they continue their pursuit for a Big Ten championship.last_img