UPDATE—Monday, 1:11 p.m. CT: Wisconsin's depth chart released Monday tells a different story, with Houston still listed as the starter.
During head coach Paul Chryst's press conference on Monday, he did not confirm who would start but noted both need to prepare and be ready for the Spartans in East Lansing:
PC says #Badgers will need both quarterbacks— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) September 19, 2016
Coach Chryst on quarterbacks Bart Houston and Alex Hornibrook:— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) September 19, 2016
"We need them both. Both have to be ready to play."
Coach Chryst on QBS: "I was able to talk with both Alex and Bart. They both have to do a great job of preparation."— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) September 19, 2016
Chryst said both QBs have to do a great job of preparation through this week. "We need to keep working to get better."— Benjamin Worgull (@TheBadgerNation) September 19, 2016
After a somewhat surprising quarterback change in the second series of the third quarter Saturday, redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook played well enough to throw the question of who gets to start at quarterback into doubt. Bart Houston had his weaknesses, but he wasn’t outright playing badly. That said, it was an undeniable jumpstart when the Badgers made the change to the redshirt freshman southpaw from West Chester, Pa., in the third quarter.
From the looks of it, the Badgers made the decision to switch starting quarterbacks and will go with Hornibrook for Saturday’s game against the eighth-ranked Michigan State Spartans, according to a report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Jeff Potrykus.
Houston did struggle through the first half, ending up 10-of-18 for 91 yards. Though it must be said that he was plagued by drops, and the fact Hornibrook came on with the score being 6-3 was aided by a missed Rafael Gaglianone field goal and a Bradrick Shaw fumble at the one-yard line.
But Hornibrook went 8-of-12 for 122 yards and a touchdown with an interception that went through the hands of George Rushing. He led the Badgers on three scoring drives in the second half and showed a necessary poise when the Badgers trailed in the fourth quarter. It was the sort of play that made the initial decision difficult for head coach Paul Chryst in the summer.
Of course, going from a fair-to-middling Sun Belt team to Michigan State and the schedule beyond is multiple steps up in terms of level of competition, and for those awareness or overconfidence foibles Bart Houston has, he has shown he was a upgrade over last year’s starter. But for right now, it looks like this is Alex Hornibrook’s team.
The only question is, can he keep it?