At the start of each week, Land of 10 will break down the postseason implications, and projections, to come out of the Wisconsin Badgers’ latest contest …
What happened: The Badgers (3-0) rolled BYU in Provo, Utah, 40-6, in the program’s first “true” nonconference away matchup since that ill-fated visit to Arizona State in 2013. Karma was at Bucky’s back on this trip, though, and in a big way: Quarterback Alex Hornibrook cracked the Wisconsin record book by completing 18 of 19 throws — 94.7 percent, a new Badgers standard — for 256 yards and 4 scores. Freshman running back Jonathan Taylor didn’t miss a beat off his impressive start (18 carries, 128 yards) and the Badgers took advantage of an injury-riddled Cougars offense by holding the hosts to 179 total yards and only 68 on the ground.
What it means: This was a statement win in a statement game in a statement venue — the Badgers were the first Big Ten squad ever to face BYU at LaVell Edwards Stadium, and they blew the doors off the place. Granted, the Cougars were trotting out an unproven signal-caller — Merril Hoge’s son Beau — and an offense that’s been … ummm … impotent, to put it kindly. The BYU of present doesn’t have the squad to match its name brand, but Wisconsin did a better number on the Cougars than good Utah (19-13 winners) or LSU (27-0) sides did earlier in the month. Comparative scores matter in the perception game, and the Badgers on Saturday only enhanced the perception that they’re serious contenders for a College Football Playoff berth.
Projected record: Massey Ratings — 10-2; TeamRankings.com — 10-2
Projected postseason destination: Peach Bowl, Jan. 1 in Atlanta, vs. an at-large opponent.
Cheapest seat at TicketCity.com as of Sunday: $120.
Up next: A bye week, then Northwestern (2-1) at home on Sept. 30, in the league opener for both programs. In July and August, many pundits pointed to this one the way they usually point to Wisconsin-Iowa games — as the early showdown to determine the biggest dog in the Big Ten West. But the Wildcats have looked downright toothless out of the gate at times, struggling with Nevada (0-3) in the home opener and then getting stomped at Duke (3-0) a week later. Pat Fitzgerald teams have made a habit of ambushing favorites on the road, but this purple gang looks even more enigmatic than usual.