MADISON—It sure didn’t start well for the Wisconsin Badgers.
That doesn’t mean it ended that way.
After Utah State surged out to a 10-point lead due to miscues and a key turnover, Wisconsin took over momentum in the second quarter and squashed the Aggies in a 59-10 win at Camp Randall Stadium on Friday night.
Wisconsin (1-0) scored 59 unanswered points starting with a 1:12 left in the second quarter, then kicked the scoring spree into a gear that Utah State (0-1) could not contain.
Redshirt sophomore Alex Hornibrook completed 15-of-23 passes for 244 yards and three touchdowns, while tight end Troy Fumagalli—who wore No. 48 in honor of injured inside linebacker Jack Cichy—caught five passes for 105 yards and a touchdown on the evening. For the night, UW gained 478 yards in a balanced effort (244 passing, 234 rushing).
On the other side of the ball, Wisconsin’s defense contained Utah State’s pace-driven offense to 304 yards, with about 137 of those yards coming in mop up time in two late drives during the fourth quarter. Eighty-eight of those were gained in the first 15 minutes, and it wasn’t a pretty first quarter and a half for the Badgers.
Utah State struck first on the scoreboard, going 54 yards on eight plays, capped off by a Dominik Eberle 25-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead with 4:56 left in the first quarter.
The pendulum swung more in favor of the visitors, as a fumbled exchange under center was picked up by Utah State. Two plays and 14 yards later, running back LaJuan Hunt’s 12-yard touchdown put the visiting Aggies up 10.
Wisconsin eventually settled down midway through the second quarter. The Badgers churned out a 15-play, 79-yard drive that ate up eight minutes, 25 seconds. Redshirt sophomore running back Bradrick Shaw ran in from three yards out to cap the series, making it 10-7.
The Badgers weren’t done, however. On Utah State’s first play after Wisconsin’s touchdown, a Kent Myers pass was deflected into the air. Inside linebacker T.J. Edwards came down with the ball and set UW up in great field position to capitalize. Rafael Gaglianone’s 29-yard field goal tied the game at 10 heading into halftime.
The third quarter started off with a bang on the first play with true freshman running back Jonathan Taylor scampering for a 41-yard gain down to the Utah State 31. Two more Taylor runs set up a 3rd-and-2, when Hornibrook found Fumagalli for a 23-yard touchdown pass. Wisconsin found its first lead of the game with the 17-10 advantage.
Again, another turnover turned into points in Wisconsin’s favor. Myers’s pass deep was picked off by safety D’Cota Dixon—the second interception thrown by the Aggies’ starting quarterback. Three plays and 53 yards later, UW’s offense struck once again. A 19-yard completion to Jazz Peavy and a six-yard rush by Shaw set up another touchdown reception by a Badgers’ tight end.
This time, Zander Neuville reeled in a reception off of a Hornibrook rollout for his first career reception. With the help of true freshman wide receiver Danny Davis, who took out a couple of blockers on the left sideline, Neuville stayed in-bounds and took it 28 yards for a touchdown. Make that a 24-10 lead.
No...they weren’t done, yet. The next drive after that included a 26-yard run by Shaw ended with a Taylor 13-yard touchdown—the first of his career.
Taylor ended the night with 87 yards on nine carries and the one touchdown.
No, wait—seriously, there’s more.
Hornibrook connected with wide receiver Quintez Cephus for a 21-yard score that ended a seven-play, 68-yard drive to make it 38-10 with 51 seconds left in the third quarter. That was the first career touchdown for Cephus, the true sophomore who caught three passes for 33 yards on the evening.
Even the fullbacks felt the love, as redshirt senior Austin Ramesh found his way into the end zone on Friday night with a six-yard score to make it a five touchdown-lead.
Two late fourth quarter touchdowns—both by walk-ons—got the Badgers near the 60-point mark. With the second-team defense in and the Utah State offense driving, Myers threw into the middle of the field and right into the hands of safety Joe Ferguson.
Ferguson, behind a convoy of blockers, ran 99 yards for a touchdown. It was the third interception thrown by Myers, who completed 25-of-41 passes for 219 yards on the night.
Redshirt freshman running back Garrett Groshek capped Wisconsin’s scoring for the night with a 23-yard score with 3:52 remaining in the game. That made four different current or former walk-ons with touchdowns on the night that gave the Badgers a 49-point advantage.
Wisconsin will host Florida Atlantic next Saturday, Sept. 9.
[Update Sept. 2, 12:39 p.m. CT — Corrected Rafael Gaglianone’s field goal attempt to 29 yards.]