MADISON, Wisc. (ABC4 Sports) – Nobody thought BYU had a chance against Wisconsin.
The 6th-ranked Badgers were 22-point favorites and had won 41 straight home games against non-conference opponents. They had defeated the Cougars last year in Provo, 40-6.
But the Cougars didn’t care what anyone thought.
Squally Canada rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries, as the Cougars pulled off an absolute shocker, 24-21.
This is the highest ranked team BYU has defeated since 2009, when they knocked off #3 Oklahoma.
“This is the most physical team in the country, Wisconsin,” an elated Kalani Sitake said after the game. “If we wanted to see what we were made of. Last year, we weren’t good enough. This year it worked out in our favor in their house. Some things went our way, but I’m glad our guys played hard and played tough.”
After falling behind 7-0 in the first quarter, the Cougars tied the game with a 2-yard touchdown run with 4:02 left in the first quarter.
BYU then took the lead in the second quarter on a trick play. Wide receiver Aleva Hifo threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Moroni Laulu-Pututau on a double pass to give the Cougars a 14-7 lead.
Wisconsin tied the game at 14 just before half on a 2-yard touchdown run by Alec Ingold.
After a key interception by Zayne Anderson early in the third quarter, Canada scored his second touchdown of the game from two yards out to make it 21-14 Cougars.
Wisconsin again battled back to tie the game with 12:43 left in the fourth quarter on Taiwan Deal’s second touchdown run of the game.
Canada then busted off a 46-yard run to set up a 45-yard go-ahead field goal by Sklar Southam to give BYU a 24-21 lead.
Wisconsin had one last chance to tie the game. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook led the Badgers from their own 8-yard line to the BYU 26. But Rafael Gaglianone’s 42-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left with 36 seconds left, and the BYU sideline erupted in celebration.
After the game, the team said they were not intimated by the environment and believed all along they could shock the world.
“The team wanted it,” said Canada, who battled through an injured ankle. “It was a shock to everybody else, but deep down inside, we knew we were going to win. Last night when we had a team meeting, we came together and everybody was super calm. We were just like, man, let’s just play our game. This is us, we got this.”
“This sounds weird, but, I’ve had this feeling before in big games,” said defensive end Corbin Kaufui. We had this feeling this whole week. It’s not that we were overconfident and we were being cocky. It’s just that there was this feeling that we can do this.”
Tanner Mangum did not have a spectacular day at quarterback by any means, completing 12 of 22 for 89 yards, but he did not turn the ball over once and managed the game effectively.
“We just executed,” Mangum said. “We knew coming in there was going to be a hostile environment. But it was just up to us to execute. I felt really calm from the very start. I just felt like if we do our job and execute one play at a time we can win this.”
BYU gained 191 yards on the ground, including 45 by Hifo.
The Cougars defense held Heisman Trophy candidate Jonathan Taylor relatively in check with 117 yards on 26 carries.
Linebacker Sione Takitaki led BYU with 12 tackles.
“This started all the way back in January when they worked hard in the weight room, hard in training and we kept reminding them of all that hard work and it paid off,” Sitake said. “I’m happy for our fans, I’m happy for our players. Our coaches worked extremely hard for me. As a coach, I’ve been a fan my whole life. So, it was a lot of fun, but I’m proud of the players and happy that our fans are here. They support us everywhere we go. I’m really excited to go celebrate with the team.”
Wisconsin had not lost at home to a non-conference team since 2003 when the Badgers lost to UNLV.
BYU (2-1) returns home to host McNeese State next Saturday.