MADISON, Wis. — Jonathan Taylor ran for two touchdowns to help the offense overcome a sluggish start and No. 10 Wisconsin’s defense swarmed Northwestern before holding on for a 33-24 win on Saturday.
Alex Hornibrook threw for 197 yards and a touchdown, settling down after two interceptions in the first half. Garrett Dooley had three of Wisconsin’s eight sacks.
Northwestern’s last drive was thwarted when quarterback Clayton Thorson couldn’t find a receiver out of his own end zone and was sacked by safety D’Cota Dixon for a safety.
Thorson was having a good quarter until then, throwing two touchdown passes in less than 2 minutes. The second to Garrett Dickerson with 2:53 left got the Wildcats within a touchdown.
But Wisconsin (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) stood up the Wildcats (2-2, 0-1) again late to seal the win in each team’s conference opener.
It was all Wisconsin in the second half until Northwestern’s late push in the fourth.
Hornibrook hit Quintez Cephus on a 61-yard pass to the Northwestern 11 on the Badgers’ first drive of the third quarter. Taylor scored on the next play to give Wisconsin the lead for good, 14-10 with 9:16 left in the third.
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Safety Natrell Jamerson had a 36-yard interception return for a touchdown for a 31-10 lead with 9:54 left in the game, what initially looked like the final blow to Northwestern.
But the Wildcats came back. Wisconsin allowed two quick touchdowns before Dixon’s safety finally finished off Northwestern.
Taylor, a freshman, finished with 80 yards on 19 carries. Dixon had a team-high 12 tackles and 1 sacks.