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Wisconsin withers in 38–13 loss to Michigan


Wisconsin v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

No. 15 Wisconsin held tight with No. 12 Michigan for the first half of the game, but withered in the second half in Ann Arbor in an 38–13 loss at Michigan Stadium on Saturday night.

Quarterback Alex Hornibrook completed only 7-of-20 passes for 100 yards with one touchdown and two critical interceptions. The offense only gained 283 yards on the night, with sophomore running back Jonathan Taylor being a bright spot in gaining 101 yards on 17 carries.

The Badgers’ offense only converted 2-of-11 third-down opportunities.

On the opposite side, Wisconsin’s defense gave up 444 yards, 320 on the ground, with several starters out and a growing list of injuries in the defensive backfield that only lengthened throughout the game.

Quarterback Shea Patterson played extremely well for Michigan, completing 14-of-21 passes for 124 yards and added 90 yards and a score on the ground, including a big run to set up Michigan’s first score. Running back Karan Higdon ran for 105 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown.

For Jim Leonhard’s defense, redshirt sophomore Eric Burrell led the team in tackles with 11, with inside linebackers T.J. Edwards and Ryan Connelly tallied 10 and eight stops a piece.

Edwards also recorded three tackles for loss.

Starting on the first play of second quarter, Patterson kept the ball and got to the outside for a long 81-yard gain before true freshman Rachad Wildgoose pushed him out of bounds. Two plays later, Higdon took it in from two yards out to help put the Wolverines up 7–0.

Wisconsin would answer immediately after, however, going 71 yards in four plays—with Taylor gaining 38 yards on three carries. Kendric Pryor capped off the drive with a 33-yard touchdown run off an end around. With Rafael Gaglianone’s extra point, the Badgers tied the Wolverines at 7–7.

Later in the quarter, Michigan converted a seven-play, 44-yard drive into a 42-yard Quinn Nordin field goal.

On the ensuing drive, a key Hornibrook turnover led to more points for the Wolverines, as an interception and return by Josh Metellus. Wisconsin’s defense held up enough, and another Nordin field goal put Michigan up 13–7.

Despite giving up 203 yards in the first half, Wisconsin’s short-handed defense stood tall for the most part, generating three sacks and holding Michigan to only 2-of-7 on third-down conversions.

Offensively, the Badgers gained only 127 yards altogether. The rush game recorded 102 yards in the first two quarters, but UW couldn’t get anything going against Michigan’s pass defense—with Hornibrook only 3-of-7 for only 25 yards.

To start the third quarter, Wisconsin’s defense held Michigan with the Wolverines punting, but the refs called a personal foul roughing the longsnapper penalty that gave Jim Harbaugh’s team new life on offense. The Wolverines took advantage, with Patterson running it in from seven yards out for a touchdown. Patterson then found Nico Collins for the two-point conversion to make it 21–7.

Michigan’s offense wore down the Wisconsin defense further in the second half.

Nordin hit another field goal to make it 24–7 early in the fourth quarter to put Michigan up three scores.

Deep in his own territory, Hornibrook threw another interception, this time to defensive back Lavert Hill who returned it 21 yards for a touchdown to make it 31–7.

Michigan continued to pile on the points, even with back-up quarterback Dylan McCaffrey in. He called his own number in taking a run 44 yards to the end zone to make it 38–7.

Hornibrook and the offense did connect on one more touchdown, driving 75 yards in eight plays with a key fourth-down conversion on a 36-yard Jake Ferguson reception. The southpaw found A.J. Taylor for a three-yard touchdown pass to cap the scoring for the evening.

Wisconsin was without redshirt senior D’Cota Dixon for the contest, as UW announced his absence right before the game. The Badgers’ defense also was without free safety Scott Nelson for the first half of the game due to last week’s targeting penalty in the second half against Nebraska.

After coming in, Nelson suffered a left leg injury and was deemed questionable for the rest of the game. Cornerback Faion Hicks (left leg) was ruled out after becoming injured early on, while true freshman safety Reggie Pearson—who recorded five tackles, one for loss, and a forced fumble in his first start of his career in his home state—also was shaken up later in the lopsided contest.