Jonathan Taylor ran for a career-high 253 yards and three touchdowns, and No. 5 Wisconsin asserted its dominance after allowing a score on the game-opening drive, beating New Mexico 45-14 on Saturday.
A.J. Taylor had 134 yards receiving and a score for the Badgers (2-0), who won their 41st straight home nonconference game. That’s the longest active streak in the FBS.
With the Lobos (1-1) down to third-string quarterback Sheriron Jones because of injuries, the Badgers converted two turnovers into touchdowns within about a five-minute span of the third quarter to pull away.
Alex Hornibrook hit A.J. Taylor for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 7:46 left in the third quarter on a drive set up by safety Scott Nelson’s interception and a 43-yard rush by Jonathan Taylor.
“The big swing came on Scott’s pick,” coach Paul Chryst said. “I was proud of the response.”
Jones fumbled on the next series on third-and-1 at the New Mexico 34. Seven plays later, Jonathan Taylor rumbled into the end zone from 5 yards behind pulling center Tyler Biadasz for his second touchdown of the afternoon and a 24-7 lead.
That allowed the crowd at Camp Randall Stadium to relax a bit. Until that stretch, the Lobos trailed by just three and threatened to take the lead after picking off a pressured Hornibrook deep in Wisconsin territory on the opening series of the third quarter.
Nelson’s interception and Jonathan Taylor’s hard running established order again in Madison.
Wisconsin outscored New Mexico 28-7 in the second half.
The Lobos got off to a promising start when starting quarterback Tevaka Tuioti orchestrated a 17-play, 87-yard drive that took up 7:43, capped by an 11-yard touchdown pass to Delane Hart-Johnson.
New Mexico’s option plays gave Wisconsin fits on the first series. Jonathan Taylor fumbled in the first half, his second straight game with a turnover.
But Taylor was otherwise spotless during his 33 carries, which was also a career high.
“I just like the way he keeps an even keel,” Chryst said. “He doesn’t want to (fumble), but he knows too that he can pay it back.”
The defense also regrouped and figured out the Lobos.
Tuioti left the game with an undisclosed injury in the second quarter, and New Mexico turned to Jones with second-string quarterback Coltin Gerhart already out for the game because of injury.
Jones was 9 of 16 for 79 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
“I felt offensively that we had a great rhythm early in the game,” coach Bob Davie said. “When our quarterback went out … we didn’t get much done after that.”
New Mexico: Davie urged his players early in the week to focus on making incremental improvements while downplaying the magnitude of a potential road upset. Mission accomplished in the first half. The game-opening drive gave the Lobos a confidence boost, as did safety Marcus Hayes’ forced fumble of Taylor on first-and-10 at the 4 in the second quarter. But Wisconsin gradually took control of the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and figured out the Lobos’ pace.
Wisconsin: A young defense learned its lesson after New Mexico’s game-opening touchdown drive, holding the Lobos to 33 yards on 16 plays over the final four series of the first half and forcing four punts. Bolstered by the return of defensive lineman Isiahh Loudermilk from a left knee injury, the Badgers got more pressure in the backfield. Tuioti left the game following a series in which he absorbed a hard hit from outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel.
New Mexico: At New Mexico State on Sept. 15.
Wisconsin: Wraps up nonconference play by hosting BYU on Sept. 15.
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