White has 3 TDs, No. 21 Badgers ground BYU 27-17
Badgers win fourth in a row
BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy is so good, he makes big plays while lying on his back.
Unfortunately for the Cougars, Wisconsin made more of them.
James White ran for two touchdowns and caught a pass for another score, and the 21st-ranked Badgers stalled BYU's fast-paced offense in a 27-17 victory Saturday. A chance to make a national statement on the road against a Top 25 program was wasted.
"We had great opportunity to showcase what we do and how we prepared," defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna said. "We let (it) slip through our hands."
Not for Van Noy on a second quarter interception made after just rolling over on his back. The star linebacker had just helped break up Joel Stave's pass to Jacob Pedersen and stumbled to the turf before the ball fortuitously fell into his hands.
Otherwise, it was the Wisconsin defense flying around making the hits, led by their own top linebacker. Five-foot-11 Chris Borland looked just fine coming back from a hamstring injury in flying around the field for 13 tackles and two sacks for the Badgers (7-2).
"He's a little guy as far as height but he played extremely hard and he's a really stout linebacker which made it really hard for our running backs to get a clean block on him," BYU quarterback Taysom Hill said.
Hill threw two touchdown passes to Cody Hoffman, but the dual-treat quarterback was held in check by Wisconsin pressure.
White locked up the win with his third score on a 14-yard run with 13:51 left in the fourth for a three-possession lead on BYU (6-3).
The senior had been overshadowed much of the season by fellow running back Melvin Gordon, the sophomore who can turn a handoff into a touchdown at any time.
White's pretty good, too. He ran in from 4 on Wisconsin's first drive, and bookended the first half with a 5-yard touchdown catch for a 17-3 lead.
Then White powered through the right side of the line on his 14-yard score for a decisive 27-10 lead in the fourth, ending the run with another rendition of what's become a familiar touchdown two-step with Gordon.
"You thought, OK, it's third-and-2, looks like he got the first down and the next time you look up, he's in the end zone doing that little dance they do," Badgers coach Gary Andersen deadpanned. "I love that dance."
White had 23 carries and 147 yards to go with six catches for 47 yards receiving. He's scored five touchdowns in Wisconsin's last two games.
Gordon added 86 yards rushing, and the Wisconsin fans celebrated the team's first home game in a month with an especially exuberant rendition of "Jump Around" in between the third and fourth quarters.
A team that averaged more than 32 points and 511 yards in total offense hit a big red speed bump at Camp Randall Stadium, held to 370. And much of that yardage came in the fourth quarter with Wisconsin playing safe defense.
Hill, who averaged 357 yards of total offense alone entering Saturday, had 53 yards rushing on 17 carries and was picked off once. He was 19 of 41 passing for 207 yards.
Wisconsin applied pressure with an array of defensive looks, including a sack by Borland on third-and-8 to the BYU 11.
Borland celebrated in part by trying to do a midair split while being congratulated by teammates, offering emphatic proof that he wasn't bothered by the sore hamstring that sidelined him in the 28-9 win over Iowa a week earlier.
Michael Caputo added 12 tackles. Pressure up the middle led to Hill's interception in the first quarter, a floater easily picked off by safety Tanner McEvoy.
"They're physical and we knew that going in," Cougars coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "It's one thing to talk about it. It's another thing to line up and play against it."
BYU's offensive highlight came after Hoffman's tough catch on an accurate throw from Hill, leaping over safety Dezmen Southward and staying inbounds along the left sideline for the 34-yard score that cut it to 20-10 with 9:04 left.
Hoffman finished with seven receptions for 113 yards. He was the active FBS leader in career receiving scores entering the night with 31.
Linebacker Spencer Hadley (knee), guard Ryker Matthews (shoulder) and tight end Devin Mahina (groin) left the game with injuries.
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