Nothing is coming easy lately for Wisconsin.
A tough loss to Northwestern last week ended dreams of a College Football Playoff berth and knocked Wisconsin out of the rankings for the first time all year. The Badgers stumbled to a slow start on Saturday against Rutgers, too, before pulling away in the second half for a 31-17 win.
Despite junior quarterback Alex Hornibrook return to the starting lineup, the Badgers were held to 10 points in the first half. Wisconsin (6-3, 4-2 Big Ten) scored 14 points in the third quarter to finally subdue Rutgers (1-8, 0-6).
The bigger concern for the Badgers is the health of their starting quarterback.
Hornibrook sat out the Northwestern loss because of a concussion, and he showed some rust by throwing two interceptions in the first half.
The Badgers finished with 156 yards passing and 303 on the ground, while Rutgers managed 261 yards passing and 72 rushing. Rutgers quarterback Artur Sitkowski was 20 of 39 for 261 yards and one touchdown. The Knights scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth.
On the final play of the second quarter, Hornibrook took a big hit on a sack. Jack Coan, who started against the Wildcats, came in for Hornibrook in the second half. Hornibrook, who has a 26-5 record as a starter, sat out the final two quarters with a head injury.
Hornibrook completed 7 of 16 passes for 92 yards, while Coan was 5 of 7 for 64 yards and one touchdown. After being held to a season-low 46 yards last week, sophomore running back Jonathan Taylor bounced back in a big way. He carried the ball 27 times for a game-high 208 yards and scored three touchdowns.
Taylor opened up the scoring with a 5-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, then added a 38-yarder in the third to pad the lead to 17-0. With 43 seconds left in the third, Taylor broke loose for an 18-yard scoring run to increase the lead to 24-3.
—Field Level Media