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No. 10 Wisconsin steamrolls BYU 40-6 in Provo

PROVO — In its first-ever visit to LaVell Edwards Stadium, No. 10 Wisconsin imposed its will, pounded the ball, controlled both lines of scrimmage and essentially ground BYU into talcum powder.

Fittingly, the Cougars wore its all-white uniforms Saturday.

Going into the contest, BYU coach Kalani Sitake said he expected a “slugfest in the trenches.”

It didn’t turn out to be much of a slugfest, however, as the Badger offensive and defensive lines manhandled and steamrolled BYU in a lopsided 40-6 victory before an announced crowd of 61,143.

What else would you expect from the Cougars against a top-10 ranked, Big Ten opponent?

“They’re a great team. You see why they’re highly ranked. I thought we were overwhelmed as a group,” a frustrated Sitake said afterward. “That’s the type of team we aspire to be. It was a good clinic for us to see what we want to be and what it takes.”

The 34-point setback marked BYU's worst home loss since a 54-10 defeat against archrival Utah in 2011.

This outcome wasn’t surprising considering this is a Cougar team that has struggled offensively this season and saw backup sophomore quarterback Beau Hoge receive his first career start in place of an injured Tanner Mangum.

Hoge completed 11 of 20 passes for 111 yards and two interceptions. His first series ended with a pick and he threw another one in the fourth quarter.

BYU failed to score a touchdown, kicked two field goals, and ended up with just six points — perhaps to honor the three former All-Americans Marc Wilson, Robbie Bosco and Luke Staley, whose No. 6 jersey was retired during a halftime ceremony Saturday.

It was the first time BYU did not score a touchdown in a home game since a 20-3 loss to Boston College in 2005.

“We’ve got to score points,” Sitake said. “I’m very disappointed in the whole outcome of the game.”

“We didn’t make plays that need to be made,” said tight end Matt Bushman.

The Cougar defense, meanwhile, was victimized by an efficient quarterback and punishing ground game.

BYU couldn’t get any pressure on Badger QB Alex Hornibrook, who picked the Cougars apart. He completed 18 of 19 passes for 256 yards and four touchdowns.

Freshman running back Jonathan Taylor gashed the Cougars with 128 yards and one touchdown on 18 carries.

“I think Wisconsin loves to do what they did today, which is run the ball really hard and tire you out,” said linebacker Butch Pau’u. “You’ve got to give the running backs credit. There were times as a defense that we felt like the run wasn’t there but they managed to keep running.”

Wisconsin converted on 8 of 12 third-down attempts and won the time of possession battle, 40:09-19:51. The Badgers accumulated 491 yards of total offense compared to 192 for BYU.

“I thought the backs ran well and Alex played sharp,” said Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst. “Alex bailed us out a little bit in the red zone and we had a lot of third down plays. It is never going to be a perfect game but I thought we played well. Our guys seemed to enjoy playing together today.”

“It all started up front,” Hornibrook said. “The O-line was doing a great job in the run game and especially in the pass game pretty much the whole game. And our backs were doing a good job making play for us and just kept moving the ball.”

Trailing 3-0 in the game’s opening minutes, BYU enjoyed its best drive of the game on a possession that took 14 plays, covered 61 yards and took 6:54 off the clock. It was capped by Rhett Almond's 31-yard field goal.

Running back Ula Tolutau rushed seven times for 46 yards in first quarter but over the final three quarters, Tolutau gained just 12 yards on six carries.

“We started to get some momentum early on and they made some adjustments and we couldn’t adjust to that,” Sitake said.

The Badgers broke open a 3-3 game by scoring 21 unanswered points.

Late in the first half, Hoge connected on a 50-yard pass to Micah Simon — BYU’s longest play from scrimmage this season. Almond missed a 38-yard field goal with one second remaining in the half but thanks to an offside call on Wisconsin, Almond got another shot and he booted a 32-yarder to cut the deficit at intermission to 24-6.

The Badgers outscored BYU in the second half, 16-0, as the Cougars didn’t put up much of a fight.

What did Sitake tell his team after the game?

“He acknowledged that Wisconsin came in here and kicked our butts,” Bushman said.

The Cougars have a bye next week before visiting Utah State on Sept. 29.