Madison, Wis. — Alex Hornibrook threw three touchdown passes, Wisconsin forced four turnovers, and the No. 9 Badgers recovered from a miserable start with a dominating second half to beat Utah State, 59-10, on Friday night.
Freshman Jonathan Taylor ran for 87 yards and a touchdown on nine carries in the opener. Star tight end Troy Fumagalli caught the go-ahead touchdown early in the third quarter, and Zander Neuville and Quintez Cephus made highlight-reel scoring grabs.
Wisconsin outgained Utah State 251-43 in the Badgers’ 28-point third quarter, rushing for 130 yards. Safety Joe Ferguson entertained the hardy fans who stayed for the fourth by returning an interception 99 yards for a score.
The Badgers asserted their dominance after struggling early. They trailed 10-0 late into the second quarter before taking off in the second half.
“We came out slow and coach (Paul) Chyst definitely fired us up at halftime … He just gave some inspirational words at the half. I won’t go into great detail about it,” Neuville said with a smile.
Aggies quarterback Kent Myers was 25 of 41 for 219 yards with three picks.
At least Utah State had a first quarter to remember.
Coach Matt Wells’ team had the Badgers’ aggressive defense on its heels with screens and a reverse. A school picked to finish last in its division it the Mountain West Conference was setting the tone against a Big Ten power at night on the road.
Hornibrook fumbled a snap deep in his own territory, a turnover that Utah State recovered at the Wisconsin 29 and returned 13 yards. LaJuan Hunt ran for a 12-yard touchdown two plays later to give the Aggies a 10-0 lead with 3:47 left in the quarter.
The fans at Camp Randall Stadium were stunned. Slowly, but surely the Badgers finally found their footing.
“There’s a lot of lessons in that game for us,” Chryst said. “Certainly a number of areas that we’ve got to clean up to be the best team we can be.”
Bradrick Shaw’s 3-yard touchdown run with 1:12 left ended started the stretch of 59 unanswered points. Wisconsin scored 24 off turnovers.
“That was a bad third quarter where you can’t stop a down. They were basically running downhill with a short field every time and no response by the offense,” Wells said.
More Big Ten
No. 8 Washington 30, (at) Rutgers 14: Dante Pettis woke up No. 8 Washington just before halftime with his sixth career punt return for a touchdown and Jake Browning threw two second-half touchdown passes in a tougher-than-expected victory over rebuilding Rutgers.
Pettis’ blistering 61-yard return gave the Huskies their first lead at 10-7 with 3:50 left in the half. He tied former California star DeSean Jackson’s Pac-12 career record for punt returns for scores.
A senior receiver, Pettis actually set up the Huskies’ first three scores this season. His 51-yard catch set up the first of three field goals by Tristan Vizcaino and his catches of 10 and 24 yards ignited an early third-quarter drive that Browning capped with a 7-yard swing pass to halfback Lavon Coleman for a 17-7 lead.
Browning was 17 of 30 for 284 yards. He also found halfback Kyle Gaskin on an 18-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter for a 27-7 lead.
Louisville transfer Kyle Bolin threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Janarion Grant on Rutgers’ first possession for a 7-0 lead and a 34-yarder to Dacoven Bailey with the game pretty much decided. Bolin finished 24 of 34 for 178 yards and had two passes intercepted by Byron Murphy.
The Scarlet Knights have lost 10 straight under second-year coach Chris Ash, but Rutgers showed a lot of improvement.
(At) Eastern Michigan 24, Charlotte 7: Brogan Roback passed for 267 yards, Ian Eriksen ran for two touchdowns and Eastern Michigan opened the season with a win.
Eriksen gave the Eagles the lead for good at 14-7 on his first TD run, a 2-yarder with 2:35 left in the first quarter, and capped the scoring on a 5-yard carry with 3:58 left in the third.
Shaq Vann led Eastern Michigan with 90 yards rushing and Eriksen added 37. Sergio Bailey II had five catches for 78 yards.
Hasaan Klugh had 114 yards passing and 101 yards rushing for the 49ers.
Brody Hoying interepted Klugh’s second pass attempt of the game and returned it 35 yards to give EMU the early lead. The 49ers bounced back, going 73 yards in four plays to tie it with 8:03 left in the first quarter. Eastern Michigan’s next drive ended with Eriksen’s first touchdown.