Fifth-ranked Wisconsin survived an upset bid from No. 24 Michigan with a 24-10 victory Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
The Badgers' win moved them to 11-0, including an 8-0 mark in Big Ten play, and represented another crucial step as they attempt to earn a College Football Playoff berth. Jonathan Taylor led the way offensively with 132 yards on 19 carries, topping 100 yards for the eighth time this year.
Michigan lost quarterback Brandon Peters to an injury in the third quarter and failed to score again, which allowed Wisconsin to pull away. The Wolverines could also never get anything going on the ground, averaging just 1.6 yards across 37 attempts in the loss.
A defensive battle was expected with both teams ranking inside the nation's top three in yards allowed per game—Wisconsin first (248 YPG) and Michigan third (255 YPG). That's exactly what developed.
After the game's first five drives ended with punts, Badgers cornerback Nick Nelson found a way to provide a spark on special teams with a 50-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Fox College Football highlighted the score, which saw Nelson take a chance by letting the kick bounce in front of him, but the decision turned to gold:
FOX College Football @CFBONFOX
Nick. The Quick. Nelson. https://t.co/8fFAs65SCK2017-11-18 17:50:41
Wisconsin benefited from a questionable review decision midway through the second quarter.
Michigan wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones appeared to make a nice toe-tap catch in the end zone to level the score, but it was called incomplete on the field and the call stood after review. Peters fumbled one play later to squander the scoring chance.
Kevin McGuire of NBC Sports provided a look at the grab by Peoples-Jones, who seemingly got his left foot in before his right foot touched out of bounds:
Kevin McGuire @KevinOnCFB
Yep. Michigan got screwed out of a touchdown. There is no other argument here. That should have been a touchdown. https://t.co/n7P2IQ8qyM2017-11-18 18:15:51
The Wolverines still managed to tie the score before halftime as fullback Ben Mason powered in from one yard out to finish a seven-play, 84-yard drive.
College GameDay highlighted the TD:
College GameDay @CollegeGameDay
Rollin’ right into the end zone https://t.co/4dv2xzLTHw2017-11-18 18:32:05
Michigan grabbed its first lead on a Quinn Nordin field goal with just under seven minutes left in the third.
Wisconsin quickly regained control, however, as they scored 14 points in a three-minute stretch that also included Peters' injury exit. Aaron McMann of MLive reported sports photographer Mike Mulholland said the QB was taken to a local hospital.
Alex Hornibrook hooked up with A.J. Taylor on a 24-yard touchdown through the air. Then the Badgers used a little misdirection on the ground to extend the lead as Kendric Pryor took a reverse 32 yards to pay dirt for the home side.
Wisconsin Football spotlighted the score that made it 21-10:
Wisconsin Football @BadgerFootball
Going that way? NOPE... going that other way. Kendric Pryor with the reverse 6! #OnWisconsin || #Badgers https://t.co/gizEffdkhi2017-11-18 19:54:20
The Badgers used their advantage in the trenches to drain the clock with their rushing attack and added a late Rafael Gaglianone field goal to cap the win.
Looking ahead, Wisconsin will attempt to complete a perfect regular season next Saturday when it travels to face Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis in the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe. The Badgers have already clinched a Big Ten Championship Game appearance the following week, as well.
Michigan also has a rivalry game on tap next Saturday as it returns home to the Big House for its annual clash with Ohio State, another contest with potential CFP implications. The Wolverines would like nothing more than ending those hopes for the Buckeyes to close their regular season.