Big Ten notebook: Wisconsin cancels another game, Northwestern aiming for 3-0 start

The Badgers will not suit up against Purdue this week, missing their second straight game because a COVID-19 outbreak on the team.


Katina Zentz

Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst speaks during the second day of Big Ten Football Media Days in Chicago, Ill., on Friday, July 19, 2019.

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter

Iowa is 0-2 to start the season, which is a story in itself. But the Big Ten does not revolve around the Hawkeyes — there are 13 other teams in the conference.

Wisconsin continues to deal with a COVID-19 outbreak within its football program, and a Tagovailoa is coming off a Co-Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week performance.

The Daily Iowan looks at non-Iowa centered storylines from the Big Ten after two weeks of action.

Wisconsin game canceled against Purdue on Saturday

For the second straight week, the Wisconsin Badgers will not take the football field. After a team-wide COVID-19 outbreak forced Wisconsin to cancel its game with Nebraska last week, the team won’t play Purdue this week.

Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez announced the news on Tuesday.

“I share in the disappointment of our student-athletes and staff,” Alvarez said in a statement. “We have seen a level of improvement in our testing numbers, but not enough to give us confidence to resume normal activities and play our game on Saturday. We will continue to test regularly, take the proper health-related precautions and look forward to getting our team back on the field as soon as possible.”

The Badgers have paused all football team activities since Oct. 28 and will continue to do so until further notice. Wisconsin has 27 active COVID-19 cases (since Oct. 24), including 15 athletes and 12 staff members.

Neither of the canceled games will be rescheduled. Wisconsin, the favorite to win the Big Ten West, must play six regular season games to be eligible for the Big Ten Championship Game.

Northwestern atop West standings with undefeated record

Ok, well, this one has to do with Iowa a little bit.

After the Wildcats beat the Hawkeyes last weekend at Kinnick Stadium, Northwestern is now — surprisingly — 2-0 on the year.

The last time the Wildcats won their first two games of a season was in 2015. The team went 10-3 that season. Northwestern hasn’t started 2-0 in conference play since 2014.

RELATED: Iowa football notebook: Ferentz expects Smith-Marsette back after one-game suspension, talks MSU matchup

Although the Wildcats had a bad year last season, that was largely because of quarterback troubles and with Peyton Ramsey under center now, Northwestern looks a lot more stable at that position. With many players still on the roster from the 2018 bunch that won the Big Ten West, the Wildcats could be dangerous.

Facing off against 0-1 Nebraska, Northwestern has a chance to go 3-0 in conference play for the first time in 20 years.

Maryland bounces back behind Tagovailoa

Maryland did not look good in Week 1 against Northwestern, taking in a 43-3 loss. It did not look even OK. New starting quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa — brother of Tua, the former Alabama and current Miami Dolphins QB — had what could only be described as an awful game.

Against the Wildcats, he threw three interceptions on 14-of-25 completions for just 94 yards.

Saying that Tagovailoa bounced back versus Minnesota last Saturday would be an understatement.

In a thrilling 45-44 overtime victory for the Terrapins, the Ewa Beach, Hawaii, native, in just his second Big Ten start, flipped the script.

Tagovailoa threw for 394 yards, three touchdowns and one pick in a Week 2 overtime victory over Minnesota. He was 26-of-35 through the air. Tagovailoa was also effective on the ground, rushing for 59 yards and two touchdowns on eight attempts.

According to the Big Ten, Tagovailoa is the third conference player in the last 20 seasons to accumulate 350 passing yards, three passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in the same game. He earned Co-Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors, sharing the award with Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.

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