Jeff Potrykus reviews Wisconsin’s 22-10 loss to Penn State on Saturday.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
The game ball this week goes to Penn State’s defensive front.
The Nittany Lions entered the day tied with Michigan for the Big Ten lead in sacks with 29, with most coming from the line.
That group didn’t disappoint Saturday as three players combined for all five sacks.
End Shareef Miller had two; tackle Robert Windsor, from Fond du Lac High School, had two; and end Yetur Gross-Matos had one.
Gross-Matos forced one fumble and recovered another and Miller forced a fumble.
That pressure left UW quarterback Jack Coan harried. He completed 9 of 20 attempts for 60 yards,
“Obviously, they had a bunch of sacks,” Coan said. “But I’ve got to make some more plays. I’ve got to move around and facilitate.”
OFFENSIVE PLAY OF THE GAME
UW’s offense had the ball for 57 plays and 26 minutes 1 second.
One play provided the highlight.
UW faced third and 2 from its 29 on its third offensive play.
Tailback Jonathan Taylor took the handoff from Coan and headed into the middle of the line.
UW caved in the Penn State line and opened a gaping hole, and Taylor was able to step away from a pair of defenders near the 36. He used his speed to run away just 4:56 into the game.
That capped a three-play, 79-yard touchdown drive.
UW managed 190 yards on its final 11 series.
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DEFENSIVE PLAY OF THE GAME
Penn State’s Gross-Matos was in the right place at the right time for a critical play early in the game.
UW faced third and 1 from the Nittany Lions’ 47 when Coan and center Tyler Biadasz weren’t able to execute the center-quarterback exchange.
Coan fumbled and Gross-Matos recovered at the Nittany Lions’ 48.
Did the momentum swing? You bet it did.
Instead of a UW first down, Penn State took over and drove for a field goal and a 10-7 lead. UW never led again.
“I’d say me and Tyler could have been a little bit better,” Coan said.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAY OF THE GAME
Penn State coach James Franklin has never been shy about gambling on fourth down. He did so early in the third quarter Saturday and the risk turned into a field goal.
Penn State faced fourth and 1 from its 36 when the Nittany Lions, lined up in punt formation, used a direct snap to up-back Johnathan Thomas.
Thomas gained 1 yard to the 37 and UW’s Zack Baun was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, which moved the ball to the UW 48.
That led to a 42-yard field goal by Jake Pinegar and a 19-10 lead with 4:07 left in the third quarter.
“My emotions just got out of hand and took over,” Baun said. “I just pushed the kid after the play.”
INSIDE THE HUDDLE
Defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard mixed blitzes with playing coverage throughout the game Saturday.
One of the times he opted to rush three and drop eight into coverage led to a big hit for Penn State.
The Nittany Lions faced third and 17 from their 43 when Trace McSorley was given excellent protection and time to scan the field.
He found wide receiver Jahan Dotson for a 30-yard gain to the UW 27, but the Nittany Lions eventually punted on fourth and 15 from the 32.
“I think everybody is kind of frustrated right now, which is natural. That’s OK. That’s normal. Accept it, roll with it and get better. I think all of us knew our potential. I think we all still believe in that potential. We’ve yet to reach it.” – D’Cota Dixon, UW senior safety
BY THE NUMBERS
4 Turnovers by UW
5 Sacks allowed by UW
26.7% UW’s third-down conversion rate (4 of 15)
60 Passing yards for UW, a season low
190 Offensive yards for UW on its final 11 series after gaining 79 on the first series
UW (6-4, 4-3 Big Ten) at Purdue (5-5, 4-3), TBA Saturday.
Northwestern’s victory over Iowa on Saturday knocked UW and Purdue out of the running for the West Division title. Both teams are coming off double-digit losses, but the Boilermakers’ 41-10 loss at Minnesota was stunning. The Gophers, playing under a new defensive coordinator, held Purdue to 233 yards and 14 first downs. The Minnesota offense shredded Purdue for 265 rushing yards and 415 total yards.