Badgers' big plays break Michigan defense
Madison, Wis. — It set up as a defensive struggle in the first half, mostly with Wisconsin finding it difficult to move against Michigan’s third-ranked defense.
The game was 7-7 after the first half.
But in the second half of the Badgers’ 24-10 victory over Michigan, the Wolverines’ defense gave up critical third-down conversions on back-to-back touchdown drives, while Michigan’s offense could get nothing done against the Badgers’ top-rated defense.
“Two big throws and then they got a few runs out, too,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said, succinctly summing up the Badgers’ second-half offense. “That ended up being the difference in the game. (And) we weren’t quite able to crack those runs in the running game.”
After Michigan took a 10-7 lead with 6:36 left in the third quarter when linebacker Devin Bush intercepted Wisconsin’s Alex Hornibrook to give Michigan the ball at the Badgers’ 29, Hornibrook quickly rebounded, leading back-to-back touchdown drives.
Wisconsin took a 14-10 lead on a 77-yard, seven-play drive and scored when Hornibrook hit A.J. Taylor on a 24-yard pass on third down. The two kept the drive alive, converting on third and 13 when Taylor caught a 51-yard pass.
“We played great except a couple plays, they had a couple big plays,” said linebacker Khaleke Hudson, who tied for a team-high nine tackles, including 1 1/2 sacks. “Other than that, we played well. We’re just out there fighting hard.”
Bush said the team just didn’t convert on opportunities. For instance, Michigan settled on the field goal after the Bush interception instead of scoring a touchdown in the red zone.
“Its’s one of those games we’ve got to capitalize on every opportunity we get,” Bush said. “Today went not as planned.”
Freshman defensive lineman Aubrey Solomon said the line shouldered the blame.
“They didn’t do nothing different,” Solomon said. “We just really beat ourselves up front especially. That’s where the game starts and that’s where the game ends, with the defensive front. I just felt like we had a lot of mental mistakes.”