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Michigan vs. Wisconsin preview: Time to make a statement

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

The Detroit News' Angelique S. Chengelis breaks down Saturday's Michigan-Wisconsin game at Michigan Stadium (3:30 p.m., ABC/WWJ).

Redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook was 16-of-26 for 195 yards and threw for a touchdown last week in his first start against then-No. 8 Michigan State.

Badgers to watch

Alex Hornibrook, QB: The redshirt freshman made an impression in his first career start last weekend in an upset of Michigan State. He was 16-for-26 for 195 yards, one TD and an INT. He was effective on third down, going 9-for-13 for 136 yards and a TD, and his passes accounted for six conversions.

T.J. Watt, OLB: A junior, Watt was named Big Ten defensive player of the week after 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks against the Spartans. He also broke up a pass and had two quarterback hurries. Watt, a tight end before switching to linebacker in 2015, leads the Badgers with 5.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks (first Big Ten, 10th nationally). And yes, his brother is J.J Watt.

Sojourn Shelton, CB: He’s tied for ninth in passes defended with six — one resulted in an INT. He had his first INT and the sixth of his career at Michigan State. The Badgers are tied for 10th nationally with six interceptions.


Stingy Badgers: Michigan is averaging 52 points per game, second in the Big Ten and fourth nationally. Wisconsin is holding opponents to an average of 11.8 points per game, seventh nationally. The Badgers have allowed just three TDs — one rushing, two passing — and have forced 18 three-and-outs on 46 possessions.

Rack ’em up: Wisconsin has victories over then-No. 5 LSU and then-No. 8 Michigan State, the first time since 1962 it has defeated two top-10 teams. It hasn’t been as positive for Michigan. Ranked No. 4, it hasn’t defeated a top-10 program since 2008 (No. 9 Wisconsin).

History means … The Badgers have won four of the last six over the Wolverines dating to 2005, including the last two (2009 2010). But, Wisconsin is 1-16 against Michigan when the Wolverines have been ranked in the top five.

Balanced Wolverines: Through four games Michigan has 919 yards rushing and 952 passing. Talk about balance.

Reach for the next rung: Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh keeps telling his players to embrace the rankings. And there’s a chance this weekend that with a victory, Michigan could move up another spot depending on the outcome of No. 3 Louisville at No. 5 Clemson.

Facts and figures

■ Wisconsin is one of seven FBS teams allowing fewer than 200 passing yards (196.5) and 100 rushing yards (80.5). The others: Boston College, Clemson, Florida, Houston, Kansas State and Miami.

■ This is the first time in 65 meetings both teams are ranked in the top 10 (Wisconsin is No. 8, Michigan No. 4). For Wisconsin, this is game No. 2 against a top-10 team (defeated then-No. 8 Michigan State last week). And it faces No. 2 Ohio State next.

■ Wisconsin hopes to extend an eight-game road winning streak, the longest in school history. Its last road loss was Oct. 4, 2014 to Northwestern.

■ The six-year break in the series (2010) is the second longest in the modern era (1946-present). The Badgers and Wolverines went nine years without playing between 1950-59.

■ The Badgers are second nationally in time of possession (37:01), which has allowed them to run 81 more plays than their opponents — an average of 20.3 more snaps. Michigan has run 46 more plays than its opponents.