UW quarterback Alex Hornibrook entered Saturday with 12 interceptions in seven Big Ten games.
He had thrown at least one interception in each of those seven games.
He was coming off a three-interception game against Iowa, with two of the picks returned for touchdowns.
His 13th interception in league play came on his 10th throw Saturday, leaving him 5 of 10 for 40 yards to that point.
So how did the sophomore respond? By leading UW to touchdown drives of 77 and 61 yards on the next two series.
Hornibrook converted three consecutive third-down plays on the drives with three perfect passes.
Facing third and 13, Hornibrook hit A.J. Taylor down the left sideline for 51 yards to the Michigan 18. Three plays later, on third and 16, he fired a bullet down the seam to Taylor for a 24-yard touchdown.
His 27-yard pass play to Danny Davis on the next series came on third and 8 and gave UW a first down at the Michigan 32. Kendric Pryor scored on an end-around on the next play.
“I think Alex does a really good job of being in the moment,” UW coach Paul Chryst said. “It’s a really good defense and I thought Alex just stayed in the moment those next couple drives he gave guys chances to make plays and I thought they competed and went and got the ball.
“Those were big.”
Offensive play of the game
UW trailed, 10-7, in the third quarter and faced third and 13 from its 31 when Hornibrook made his most important throw of the game.
Hornibrook looked first to freshman Danny Davis but a safety rotated over and was in good position to make a play on the ball.
His next option was A.J. Taylor down the left sideline.
“I saw pre-snap that A.J. had good leverage and a one-on-one matchup,” Hornibrook said. “The safety was cheating to Danny and (A.J.) had a free lane.
“He beat his guy and I just had to put it on him.”
Taylor beat cornerback Jaylen Kelly-Powell and Hornibrook hit him in-stride at the 38. Taylor gained another 20 yards to the 18 before being ridden out of bounds.
Three plays later, Hornibrook put the ball on a line between Khaleke Hudson and Josh Metellus and Taylor made the catch in the end zone for a 24-yard score on third and 16.
Was Hornibrook worried the tight window would allow a Michigan defender to make a play on the ball?
“Um,” Hornibrook said, “not really.”
Defensive play of the game
Senior outside linebacker Leon Jacobs recovered two fumbles in the victory over Iowa, including one he returned 21 yards for a touchdown with UW clinging to a three-point lead in the third quarter.
Jacobs made another huge play Saturday, this time with UW holding a 7-0 lead in the second quarter.
Michigan faced third and goal from the 5 when quarterback Brandon Peters was flushed to his left by end Alec James.
Peters got around Conor Sheehy and turned up the field at the 10. Peters had the ball in his outside arm but Jacobs came up and poked the ball loose with his right arm as he tried to make the tackle.
Cornerback Derrick Tindal recovered at the 1 with 8:42 left in the half and UW avoided a potential score.
Jacobs, who finished with four tackles, didn’t know he had caused a turnover.
“I thought he scored,” Jacobs said. “I didn’t know I forced a fumble.”
Jacobs looked up at the video board in the north end zone to see what happened.
“I saw he didn’t have the ball in his hands,” Jacobs said, “so I started celebrating.”
Inside the huddle
Joe Ferguson got the start at safety in place of D’Cota Dixon (right leg). Dixon entered the lineup in the opening quarter, though, as the third safety. UW used three safeties, with Natrell Jamerson deep, when Michigan deployed a “heavy” personnel package to run the ball.
Anthony Lotti handled all the punts for the second consecutive week and averaged 37.2 yards on eight punts. His best punt was a 53-yarder that carried to the Michigan 18 and was returned 9 yards. That came in the opening quarter after UW’s first series and helped flip the field in the Badgers’ favor. UW took over at its 20 after a Michigan punt and Lotti then pinned the Wolverines at their 14 with a 40-yard punt. That led to Nelson’s touchdown.
“He had a turnover and then he threw an absolute dart to A.J. (Taylor) in the end zone. That’s what you love. He is a warrior. He goes through so much, everybody criticizing him and he knows it comes with playing quarterback…But he has to have the highest mental toughness of anyone on the team. He is constantly battling.”—T.J. Edwards, UW linebacker, on Hornibrook
By the numbers
- 21 Combined tackles for T.J. Edwards (11) and Ryan Connelly (10)
- 58 Rushing yards by Michigan, the Wolverines’ lowest mark this season
- 65 Total yards for Michigan after halftime, on 28 plays
- 132 Rushing yards for Jonathan Taylor, the most Michigan has allowed this season
- .842 Paul Chryst’s winning percentage at UW (32-6)