Wisconsin Badger fans woke up Saturday morning and tuned into a game that could have been straight out of nightmare, as the No. 9 Badgers started out slow against Indiana.
Quarterback Alex Hornibrook ended Wisconsin’s first offensive drive of the game by throwing an interception in the endzone, spoiling a 45-yard run by Jonathan Taylor. It marked the sixth straight game in which Hornibrook has thrown an interception.
Under pressure now, the Badger defense also began to struggle. The short passing game and onslaught of slants sparked Indiana’s offense. Their second drive of the game lasted four minutes on 11 plays and 80 yards. The Hoosiers scored a touchdown on a 23-yard touchdown pass as Indiana cruised to a quick 7-0 lead.
To make matters much worse for Wisconsin, linebacker Chris Orr went down with a left leg injury. Wisconsin, who was already hurting at linebacker from early-season injuries, was down yet another player.
A three and out by Wisconsin’s offense would give Indiana’s streaking offense another opportunity they would not waste as they drilled a short field goal boosting their lead over Wisconsin to 10-0.
Indiana’s drive was helped along by a couple pass interference calls, one on Wisconsin’s cornerback Nick Nelson.
Nelson came out of the gates very aggressive, getting two pass breakups early bringing up his season total to 16. He is now tied for third in the country in pass breakups.
Wisconsin picked it up in the second quarter.
Going 4-for-4 on the third drive for Wisconsin’s offense, Hornibrook would bounce back throwing for 67 yards. It was capped off by an 18-yard touchdown pass to second-string fullback Alec Ingold, who was wide open in the end zone on a wheel route. Indiana led 10-7 after Gaglianone’s extra point.
The defense also stepped up in the second quarter. On second down, senior defensive end Alec James sacked Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow, forcing a third and long.
James would finish the game with 1.5 sacks, continuing a stretch of games that have seen the defensive end morph into a stud player for Wisconsin.
Linebacker Tyler Johnson (getting more playing time with Orr out) stepped up quickly, forcing a fumble on the next drive. Safety Joe Ferguson, who has been making impact plays since filling in for the injured D’Cota Dixon, recovered the ball giving Wisconsin’s offense another chance.
Hornibrook, on second down, would end up firing a bullet to receiver Quintez Cephus for the 8-yard touchdown pass.
The Wisconsin quarterback would show, once again, his ability to bounce back from a rough start. Hornibrook finished the day 13-of-20 for 158 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Cephus would have to leave the game early after what looked to be an injury to his lower leg. Cephus got rolled up under an offensive lineman. If the injury is serious, Wisconsin’s offense would be losing one of their top playmakers. AJ Taylor helped contribute to the offense after Cephus left the game, boasting a team-high 63 yards (also a personal high since playing for the Badgers).
A balanced offensive attack would be the name of the game for Wisconsin as Hornibrook would continue finding receivers and Jonathan Taylor would continue his talent showcase. The freshman would run with ease again as he would rush for 183 yards and one touchdown during the game.
On second and short, Hornibrook took off running and the ball was forced out of his hand. Luckily, he was able to jump back on the ball before Indiana could get to it.
On second and 20, Indiana’s Lagow dropped back to pass when Joe Ferguson stepped in front and intercepted the ball. The Badgers took over near their own 30. The Badgers were rolling near the 15-year line when Jonathan Taylor coughed up the ball. Michael Deiter recovered the ball, resulting in second and 10 for Wisconsin. The drive ended with Alec Ingold’s second touchdown on the day.
On the Hoosiers first play after the Badger touchdown, Lagow stepped back to pass again but once again found Joe Ferguson for his second pick of the day. The Badgers again took over near the red zone with the drive ending in Alec Ingold’s third touchdown of the day.
With four minutes left in the fourth quarter, Indiana turned over the ball on downs at the Wisconsin 20-yard line. Quarterback Jack Coan came into the game to relieve Hornibrook. The Badgers completed the short drive with a rushing touchdown by Bradrick Shaw.
Alec Ingold had a monster game after filling in for an injured Austin Ramesh. Ingold had three touchdowns during the game and 24 yards.
Wisconsin stole the win 45-17, outscoring Indiana 31-7 in the second half. A win like this was essential for Wisconsin after dropping from No. 4 in the AP rankings to No. 9 in the College Football Playoff rankings.