MADISON — The No. 9/No.12 Wisconsin Badgers (3-0) avoided a near upset, defeating the Georgia State Panthers (0-3) 23-17 at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday.
Alex Hornibrook, in relief of redshirt senior Bart Houston, led Wisconsin to 17 of its 23 points and completed 8-of-12 passes for 122 yards with one touchdown pass and one interception.
The Panthers at one point took a 17-13 lead in the fourth quarter, but Hornibrook led the Badgers on an eight-play, 59-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass to redshirt freshman tight end Kyle Penniston to make it a 20-17 Wisconsin lead.
Junior kicker Rafael Gaglianone converted on a 41-yard attempt to make it a six-point advantage.
Georgia State’s offense made strides against UW’s defense, as Wisconsin allowed the most points through three games this season. The Panthers threw for 302 yards, taking advantage of a secondary without led nickelback Natrell Jamerson (left leg).
Wisconsin dominated in the first half in terms of total yards (201 to 86) and time of possession (18:48 to 11:12), but five drives yielded only a 6-0 lead. Their first two drives ended in field goals by junior kicker Rafael Gaglianone of 41 and 28 yards, but the Badgers only converted two-of-seven third down attempts in the first two quarters.
After finishing their non-conference schedule, the Badgers will go on the road to face Michigan State next Saturday in East Lansing.