No. 21 Wisconsin beats Michigan 45-24
Nick Toon caught two of Tolzien's touchdown throws for the Badgers (8-2, 5-2), who went to the air after putting together monster rushing performances in their previous two games.
It was the third consecutive win for the Badgers — and sweet payback on Senior Day for a team that struggled after blowing a lead to Michigan last year.
Tate Forcier was a solid 20 of 26 for 188 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, but it wasn't enough to spare the Wolverines from their sixth consecutive conference loss. After a 4-0 start, the Wolverines (5-6, 1-6) are reeling heading into next Saturday's matchup with rival Ohio State.
Despite spending much of the game under pressure from a Michigan pass rush led by defensive end Brandon Graham, Tolzien was 16 of 24 for 240 yards with an interception.
Michigan held Wisconsin to 53 yards rushing in the first half but couldn't keep it up, as John Clay got 104 of his 151 yards on the ground after halftime.
Leading 21-17, Wisconsin received the second-half kickoff and marched to the Michigan 15-yard line, where Tolzien threw toward Toon in the end zone. Toon, son of former Badgers and NFL receiver Al Toon, jumped and came down with his second TD of the day despite being interfered with on the play.
Forcier answered, converting a fourth-and-9 play to set up a 10-yard touchdown pass to Roy Roundtree that cut Wisconsin's lead to 28-24 midway through the third.
But the Wolverines defense just couldn't get the stop it needed.
With Wisconsin facing third-and-5 at the Michigan 18, linebacker Stevie Brown burst through the line and Tolzien got rid of the ball just before taking a crunching hit, delivering a 12-yard pass to tight end Garrett Graham to set up first-and-goal at the 7. Tolzien threw a touchdown to tight end Lance Kendricks two plays later, putting Wisconsin up 35-24.
Facing a desperate third-and-17 at his own 8-yard line late in the third, Forcier tried to go deep but Badgers cornerback Niles Brinkley came down with the ball. Wisconsin drove for a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Tolzien, putting the game out of reach at 42-24 early in the fourth.
The Badgers were coming off impressive rushing performances in victories over Purdue and Indiana but had a hard time finding yards on the ground against Michigan's defense early on.
So Wisconsin went to the air, scoring on Tolzien's 22-yard pass to tight end Garrett Graham on its first drive. Forcier answered immediately, tying the game with a touchdown pass to Vincent Smith and adding a field goal after a Tolzien interception for a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter.
The Wolverines then squandered a strong defensive stand when they were called for roughing the punter and the Badgers made the most of their second chance, driving for an 8-yard touchdown pass from Tolzien to Toon and a 14-10 lead.
Last updated: 11:57 am Thursday, December 13, 2012