Wisconsin has been executing a simple but effective formula during Big Ten play:
UW’s defense takes the ball from the opposition and the offense runs with it, generally into the opponents’ end zone.
UW (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten), which hosts Iowa (6-3, 3-3) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, has forced 13 turnovers in six games. That is tied with Michigan State for the No. 1 mark in the league. Nine have been interceptions and four have been fumble recoveries.
The Badgers have forced at least one turnover in every league game. The defense has scored on three of the turnovers, all interceptions. UW’s offense has scored six touchdowns after the other 10 takeaways, or 60 percent.
That number was bolstered by a 3 for 3 performance Saturday at Indiana.
“We’ve got to score points on every one of those opportunities we get,” tight end Troy Fumagalli said.
UW drove 21 yards for a touchdown after Joe Ferguson’s fumble recovery, 27 yards for a touchdown after Ferguson’s first interception and 33 yards for a touchdown after his second interception.
“We have so much confidence in our offense,” UW linebacker T.J. Edwards said. “I know some people might not see it, but we absolutely believe they are going to do what they want to do out there.
“And when you get them on those short fields they are so powerful because they can do so many different things.
“They just hammered it home.”
Offensive tackle Michael Deiter played a critical role in making sure UW capitalized on all three turnovers at Indiana.
UW’s lead was 24-17 early in the fourth quarter when Ferguson recorded his first interception to put the ball at the Hoosiers’ 27.
On the third play of the drive, tailback Jonathan Taylor probed the right side but fumbled. Several players had a shot at recovering the ball before Deiter, hustling from the back side, fell on the ball at the 12.
Fullback Alec Ingold scored on a 1-yard run four plays later.
“At the time it was a one-score game so to keep that in our possession was huge,” Deiter said. “As an offensive lineman, you just want to make sure you’re always chasing the runner, chasing the throws just in case something like that happens.”
By the numbers
Ingold follows a motto proffered by most football coaches.
Don’t count your reps. Make your reps count.
The junior from Bay Port High School has played in 33 college games and in those game has 85 touches—76 rushes for 195 yards and nine catches for 92 yards.
Ingold has scored 14 touchdowns, one every 6.1 touches. He rushed for two scores and caught a pass for another score at Indiana to push his totals at UW to 11 rushing touchdowns and three receiving touchdowns.
“Touching the ball was good,” Ingold said with a smile. “But there’s definitely some blocks I left out on the field and feel bad about. I could have sprung J.T. (Jonathan Taylor) a couple of times. I just dropped my head a couple of times … and they made some plays.
“It wasn’t 100% but I’m loving it. I had a lot of fun.”
UW completely fooled Indiana’s defense on Ingold’s 18-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter.
On first and 10, UW deployed two tight ends and two backs—Ingold and tailback Bradrick Shaw. Ingold came off the ball and attacked the right side as if he was the lead blocker for Shaw.
He split two defenders and zoomed unabated into the right flat. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook faked a handoff to Shaw and hit Ingold for an easy touchdown.
“It’s a lot about our personnel and how we line up and just run the ball in those situations,” Ingold explained when asked how he as able to get open. “When you throw the ball, no one is thinking that, especially to me. I’m not a big receiving threat.”
Starting fullback Austin Ramesh, who missed the Indiana game after suffering a head injury at Illinois, has been cleared to play this week.
Kickoff time for UW’s home game Nov. 18 against Michigan will be either 11 a.m., 2 p.m. or 2:30 p.m., Big Ten officials announced Monday. The starting time will be determined after games this weekend.