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Alex Hornibrook

Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Alex Hornibrook looks to pass during the second quarter of the Badgers' 24-10 win over the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.

Frustration eventually turned to anger for the members of the University of Wisconsin football team’s offensive line Saturday afternoon at Camp Randall Stadium.

According to junior left tackle Michael Deiter, the line-in-the-sand moment came midway through the third quarter. To that point, the talented front seven that anchors Michigan’s defense had won round after round in the trenches, a trend that left a group of 300-pounders seething on the UW sidelines.

“You get that (feeling) after a while, it’s just kind of enough is enough,” Deiter said. “Sure, they’re good, but that doesn’t mean we’re just going to lay down and keep losing the line of scrimmage battle.”

That Deiter and Co. were able to flip the script was a major factor in a second-half surge that helped the No. 5 Badgers remain unbeaten with a 24-10 victory over the Wolverines.

After going eight possessions without a score to open the game – Nick Nelson’s 50-yard punt return provided UW’s only points during that stretch – the UW offense produced two touchdowns and a field goal in a span of four possessions to turn a three-point deficit into a 14-point cushion.

“When it’s not going your way like it had all game, it’s tough to keep your head up and just keep chugging along,” Deiter said. “I think we did a good job of that. Sooner or later, it’s going to pop, stuff’s going to work for you.”

Poor field position tied UW coach Paul Chryst’s hands to some degree – the Badgers’ average starting position on their first eight drives was their own 12 – but facing a defense filled with future NFL players made the task of moving the ball even more difficult.

The inside of Michigan’s front features big bodies in Maurice Hurst, Rashan Gary and Aubrey Solomon. Khaleke Hudson, a hybrid linebacker-safety, spent a lot of time in the Badgers’ backfield and recorded 1½ tackles for loss, while defensive end Chase Winovich had two TFLs.

Chryst knew that a balanced attack would be necessary to beat the Wolverines, but UW wasn’t having success on the ground or through the air. Michigan was filling the box to stop the Jonathan Taylor-led ground game, but Hudson and others were also applying a great deal of pressure to Alex Hornibrook when he dropped back to pass.

UW’s first seven drives ended with punts. Its eighth series started with Hornibrook throwing an interception that the Wolverines eventually converted into a field goal that gave them a 10-7 lead.

At that point, the Badgers had 99 total yards on 28 plays.

“You didn’t want to panic,” Chryst said. “You just you had to kind of be persistent and kind of get a feel for how the game was playing out.”

In times like these, it helps to have experienced voices within the offensive line. For this group, it’s Deiter and junior right guard Beau Benzschawel, and their message was that it was time to stop getting pushed around.

“We definitely took it personal,” Benzschawel said.

After Michigan took the lead, Hornibrook made two great throws to sophomore wide receiver A.J. Taylor on the ensuing drive. The first was a 51-yarder on third-and 13, the second a 24-yarder on third-and-16 that resulted in a go-ahead touchdown.

That Hornibrook didn’t have a Michigan player in his face on each of those plays can’t be discounted.

“We’re resilient,” Deiter said. “For 2½ quarters, it was not going our way. We were stalled and we weren’t doing a whole lot. But I just think we kept battling and made plays go later in the game.”

On its next series, Hornibrook kept the drive going by finding freshman wide receiver Danny Davis for 27 yards on third-and-8. The next play, center Tyler Biadasz and Benzschawel pulled to clear a path to the end zone for redshirt freshman wide receiver Kendric Pryor, whose 32-yard run gave the Badgers a 21-10 lead.

It was essentially the same play UW ran for a touchdown a week ago vs. Iowa, though it came out of a different formation.

Taylor broke free for a 52-yard run in the fourth quarter and finished with 132 yards on 19 carries.

After its slow start, UW produced 232 yards in 29 plays over the course of four series.

“We could have been better,” Deiter said, “but I really like the way we finished.”

Bucky!

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