The University of Wisconsin pulled away in the second half of an ugly game Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium, topping last-place Rutgers, 31-17, to become bowl eligible.
The Badgers (6-3, 4-2) made their first drive look easy, going 65 yards on six plays and taking a 7-0 lead on Jonathan Taylor’s 5-yard touchdown run.
After a poor decision from quarterback Alex Hornibrook led to an interception, UW got the ball back and moved 78 yards on 18 plays — only to kick a 32-yard field goal and extend its lead to 10-0 with 14 minutes left in the first half.
Hornibrook, who finished 7-of-16 passing for 92 yards and left at halftime with a head injury, threw his second pick with 6:39 left in the half when defensive back Saquan Hampton jumped in front of a Danny Davis out route.
That set Rutgers (1-8, 0-6) up with great field position on the UW 34, but the Badgers forced a three-and-out before Andrew Van Ginkel blocked a 45-yard field goal attempt, which D’Cota Dixon recovered and returned to the Scarlet Knights’ 41.
UW couldn’t take advantage of its favorable field position either, punting on fourth-and-5 from the 36. The Badgers had one more opportunity to add to their lead before halftime, but Hornibrook took a sack in the final minute at his own 33.
Jack Coan, who made his first career start last week at Northwestern when Hornibrook was out with a concussion, played the second half with Hornibrook out. UW began by running 13 straight times, though, which led to two more Jonathan Taylor touchdowns.
Taylor scored from 38 yards out on the Badgers’ first possession and added an 18-yard touchdown the next time out, extending UW’s lead to 24-3 late in the third quarter. He finished with 208 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries.
Rutgers finally found the end zone with 8:14 remaining when running back Jonathan Hilliman capped off a 57-yard drive with a 1-yard score, but the Badgers put the game away with Coan’s 11-yard pass to Davis with 3:37 left. Coan finished 5-of-7 passing for 64 yards and a touchdown.
This story will be updated.