Provo • A parachutist overshooting his mark crashed into the padded wall behind the north end zone at LaVell Edwards Stadium before the BYU football game on Saturday.
He was pronounced OK afterwards, but the same couldn’t be said of BYU’s season.
The 10th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers, looking very much the part of a college football playoff contender, steamrolled offensively inept BYU 40-6 in front of 61,143 fans on a picture-perfect fall afternoon that turned ugly for the Cougars (1-3).
“If I were to put into words the game, I thought we were overwhelmed as a group,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said in his harshest post-game comments to date as Cougars coach. He said that word — overwhelmed — several times and then admitted even if the Cougars had played their best game of the season, “I don’t know what the outcome would have been today, even with that.”
“He acknowledged that Wisconsin came in here and kicked our butts,” tight end Matt Bushman said of Sitake’s locker room talk.
With redshirt sophomore Beau Hoge making his first career start in the place of the injured Tanner Mangum, the Cougars failed to score a touchdown at home for the first time since 2005, when they fell 20-3 to Boston College.
Hoge completed 11 of 20 passes for 111 yards, was intercepted on his first pass of the game, another time in the fourth quarter, and then finished his performance by failing to throw the ball away in the end zone and then fumbling for a Wisconsin safety.
“The turnovers, I am not happy with,” Sitake said. “It just wasn’t how I pictured our offense performing today.”
Wisconsin’s defense had Hoge running for his life, and shut down BYU’s rushing attack after the Cougars teased their fans early with a 14-play drive that gained 79 rushing yards before a holding penalty on Tuni Kanuch eventually brought on Rhett Almond for a 32-yard field goal.
The Cougars finished with 81 yards on the ground, and ran 46 plays, including five in the fourth quarter. Wisconsin dominated time of possession, holding the ball for 40 minutes and 9 seconds and racking up 491 yards and 28 first downs.
The Badgers were 8 of 12 of third down, with sophomore quarterback Alex Hornibrook picking apart the Cougar defense when he had to. Hornibrook set the Wisconsin single-game completion percentage record, going 18-for-19 for 256 yards and four touchdown tosses. It took Butch Pau’u wrestling the ball away from a wide receiver for Hornibrook to not have a perfect day.
“He’s very accurate, and he’s very calm under pressure,” Pau’u said.
Corbin Kaufusi did catch Hornibrook for a sack, BYU’s first sack since the 20-6 win over Portland State in the opener, but the Badgers’ QB was barely touched the other 20 times he dropped back to pass.
“He was 18 for 19, golly,” Sitake marveled.
Hornibrook was 8-for-8 on his third-down throws, and Sitake said BYU’s lack of a pass rush can be attributed to the Badgers being able to run the ball at will.
“That’s the type of team we aspire to be,” Sitake said. “They did a good job keeping us on our heels, and they possessed the ball, and played some great defense.”
It was BYU’s worst home loss since a 54-10 demolition at the hands of Utah in 2011. It is also the first time BYU has lost two games by 27 or more points in the same season since 2004 — the last time the Cougars failed to make it to a bowl game.
“We wanted to see how we would measure up and there’s your answer,” Sitake said. “Not [going] to make any excuses. It was a good clinic to see who we want to be and what it takes.”
Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst rested Jonathan Taylor in the fourth quarter after the freshman picked up 128 yards on 18 carries, but was still trying to score in the final minutes with a 34-point lead. Sitake said he was “glad” that the Badgers kept at it, rather than take a knee. Wisconsin hosts BYU next September in Madison.
“I think we played better defense against LSU,” Sitake said. “Looking at the numbers we had eight more plays [than vs. LSU]. It is difficult to win games when you are only getting 200 yards of production and not getting in the end zone. When your defense isn’t playing great, there is your result: 40-6.
“We have a long way to go and a lot more season to play,” Sitake concluded. “So, we will take advantage of the bye week and try to help ourselves win games.”
Storylines<br>•Badgers quarterback Alex Hornibrook plays flawlessly in completing 18 of 19 passes for 256 yards and four touchdowns.<br>• In his first college start, BYU QB Beau Hoge completes 11 of 20 passes for 111 yards, is intercepted twice and fumbles in the end zone for a Wisconsin safety.<br>• The Cougars generate 192 yards of offense and give up 491 to the Badgers.