Iowa defense continues prep for Wisconsin’s Taylor

Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor is one of the best in the country, and he poses plenty of threats to the Hawkeye defense.


Nick Rohlman

Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor carries the ball during Iowa's game against Wisconsin at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 22, 2018. The Badgers defeated the Hawkeyes 28-17.

Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor

On every Wisconsin football highlight reel, No. 23 can be found flying around the field.

Jonathan Taylor ranks ninth in the country with 1,009 total rushing yards, and his average of 126.1 yards per game ranks fifth. He’s also tied for fourth nationally with 14 touchdowns.

He’s the best running back Iowa has faced this season, and it isn’t particularly close.

“They’ve got as good a running back as we’ve seen during my time here,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We’ve played against some pretty good players, [Saquon] Barkley, [Christian] McCaffrey — two who are doing pretty good right now. This guy’s really a tremendous football player.”

Taylor has rushed for over 100 yards in six of his eight games this season, and he’s scored multiple touchdowns in five.

In his last matchup against the Hawkeyes, Taylor ran for 113 yards on 25 carries but didn’t find his way into the end zone.

Iowa knows what it takes to somewhat limit Taylor, and doing it again will be a key factor in deciding the outcome of Saturday’s matchup.

“He’s a big fast, physical back,” Iowa safety Jack Koerner said. “He makes good first contact, and you’ve got to be able to take him down. Solo tackles are going to be tough on him this week, so we need to make sure we’re running to the ball… We got to get as many hats to the ball as we can. If he’s going to be able to have one-on-one situations all day, it’s not exactly what we want.”

Heading home

Quarterback Nate Stanley and running back Toren Young get to go back to their home state to play a game once every two years, and their final opportunity to do so comes Saturday.

Young wasn’t heavily recruited by the Badgers, which has given the Madison native some motivation in the past two years.

“It’s old news, but ever since I’ve been here, I’ve tried to keep a chip on my shoulder, because I only had one scholarship offer,” Young said. “I’m happy where I’m at, but I definitely use that as a chip on my shoulder — just try to go out there and prove myself.”

Stanley grew up in Menomonie with Badger fullback Mason Stokke, who was one of his good friends growing up.

While most of the people he knows may be cheering for Wisconsin, he said he knows they’re also rooting for him.

“Whenever somebody from back home that’s Wisconsin fans, whenever we’re playing them, they always tell me, ‘Hey, we’re cheering for you, as well,’” Stanley said. “I have a lot of support from friends, and family, and people from where I’m from.”

A classic Big Ten matchup

The annual Iowa-Wisconsin matchup is always predicated on physicality, and it will continue this year.

The Badgers rank second in the conference with 216.3 rushing yards per game this season, while the Hawkeyes slide in at No. 9 with 145.8.

Iowa’s ground attack has been slow to get going at times this season, but it knows that needs to change if it wants to keep up with Wisconsin.

“We’re going to have to start off fast with the run game,” Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum said. “We know that; they know that. It’s just going to be who shows up ready to play at 3 o’clock.”

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