The Cougars’ aspirations to a national ranking and their faint hopes for a major bowl game will have to wait until another day.
A rolling BYU offense slammed into a solid wall at Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium as an impressive Badgers team stymied BYU’s playmakers and broke big runs on Nov. 9 to defeat the Cougars 27–17.
“Wisconsin did more with the opportunities they had,” said BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall. “That was the difference in the game.”
The Cougar offense’s lackluster performance was reminiscent of its first few games this year. The Wisconsin defense hurried BYU quarterback Taysom Hill throughout the afternoon, holding him to just 19 of 41 passing with an interception and only 53 yards rushing.
Despite a slow start, Hill’s performance improved as the game went on. He connected with Cody Hoffman on two touchdown passes in the second half, but it was too little too late.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t make enough plays to get a win today,” said wide receiver Skyler Ridley.
For much of the game, Wisconsin’s highly-touted running game had its way with the BYU defense. Senior running back James White paced the Badger offense with 147 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. Sophomore running back Melvin Gordon added 86 more yards for Wisconsin.
BYU safety Craig Bills, who recovered a fumble in the game, said the defense didn’t stop the Badger offense when it needed to.
“There were missed assignments and missed tackles,” he said. “It wasn’t (the) outcome we expected.”
Overshadowed in the loss was Cody Hoffman’s move to no. 1 on BYU’s all-time list for career receiving yards. With his 34-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter, Hoffman passed Austin Collie’s mark of 3,255 yards. The senior wideout finished with seven catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns in the game.
“I watch in awe as he makes amazing catches,” Ridley said of his record-setting teammate.
For a BYU team who was on the verge of a top 25 ranking, it’s time to rebound once again.
“We’ve got to break this one down and become a better team because of it,” defensive back Mike Hague said.
The Cougars fell to 6–3 and look to run the table before their bowl game, with contests against Idaho State, Notre Dame and Nevada over the next three weeks. BYU still has an opportunity to reach its sixth 10-win season in nine years under Mendenhall if the Cougars run the table and win their bowl game.
Notre Dame, despite its recent upset loss to the Pittsburg Panthers, will likely be BYU’s most difficult remaining obstacle. The Fighting Irish currently sit at 7-3, including a 4-1 mark at home.