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Sunday December 15th, 2019 9:52PM

Taylor scores 5 TDs to lead No. 8 Wisconsin past Kent State

By The Associated Press
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Jonathan Taylor had four rushing touchdowns and caught a TD pass, Zack Baun had a career-high three sacks, and the eighth-ranked Badgers coasted to a 48-0 win over Kent State on Saturday.

Taylor had 19 rushes for 186 yards, eclipsing the 100-yard mark for the 27th time in 32 career games with the Badgers (5-0).

"It's still a long season ahead, and to be consistent, you've got to play through a whole season knowing that you can't just have a couple games," Taylor said. "There's still a long way to go, but I'll continue to try and be as efficient as possible."

Baun's three sacks led a Wisconsin defense that had nine total sacks and has now pitched three shutouts in a season for the first time since 1937. The Badgers, who entered the day with the nation's top-ranked defense, held Kent State (2-3) to 124 yards of total offense. Chris Orr, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts against Northwestern, added two sacks for a unit that has allowed four touchdowns through five games.

"Guys are playing with more confidence," Orr said. "Guys are really glued in to their alignment and assignment. ... We're not reinventing the wheel."

Dustin Crum and Woody Barrett combined for just 64 yards on 10-of-17 passing. Most of those yards came on a 28-yard completion to receiver Raymond James.

The Golden Flashes, coached by former Wisconsin quarterback and tight end Sean Lewis, have played two ranked opponents this season and were outscored 103-16 in those matchups. Kent State lost to then-No. 8 Auburn 55-16 on Sept. 14.

"We have to do a better job of preparing our guys for the task at hand, make sure that we're ready, make sure that we're prepared for the effort that's warranted to win a ballgame like that," Lewis said.

Taylor scored from 6 yards on the opening drive. The junior running back now has a touchdown on each of the Badgers' five opening drives this season. Wisconsin is the only team in the FBS to open each game with a touchdown.

"He's the best running back in the country," Lewis said of Taylor.

Taylor scored four first-half touchdowns before the Golden Flashes had their third first down. Taylor also crossed the goal line on 19-, 4- and 48-yard runs. Taylor and quarterback Jack Coan linked up for an 18-yard score that made it 28-0 at halftime.

Coan, who won his seventh straight start, finished 12 for 15 with 134 yards and two touchdowns. Tight end Jake Ferguson was on the receiving end of the junior's other touchdown. Their 2-yard score made it 41-0 with 8:01 left in the third quarter. Receiver Jack Dunn added the final score on a 3-yard run in the fourth.

THE TAKEAWAY

With 4,916 career yards rushing, Taylor is now in third place on Wisconsin's all-time rushing list. Montee Ball (2009-12) is second with 5,140 yards. Taylor still has a way to go before catching the 7,125 yards posted by Ron Dayne (1996-99). Taylor continues to show why he deserves to be near the top of the list of Heisman Trophy contenders. The 2018 Doak Walker Award winner already has 16 touchdowns this season. That's the most by any FBS player in his team's first five games since Ricky Williams had 20 for Texas in 1998. Williams won the Heisman that season.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Minimal. The Badgers were a 36-point favorite against the Golden Flashes. Wisconsin did what it was supposed to do against an inferior Mid-American Conference opponent.

UP NEXT

Kent State: plays Akron on the road Oct. 12.

Wisconsin: hosts No. 25 Michigan State on Oct. 12

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Follow Keith Jenkins on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MrKeithJenkins

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For more AP college football coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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