“The play before that he actually broke my tackle; I armed tackled and he kind of fell forward,” Dixon said. “I was kind of mad. As soon as I seen him get the ball, I just shot (the gap).”
That thirst for revenged flipped the game in Wisconsin’s favor, as Dixon’s forced fumble led to a 66-yard fumble-recovery touchdown by free safety Leo Musso that propelled No.11 Wisconsin to its 30-6 win over No.8 Michigan State Saturday.
With the Badgers leading 13-6 early in the third quarter, Dixon and inside linebacker Jack Cichy went low on Scott, with Dixon putting his helmet into the sophomore’s check. That jarred the ball loose and bounding forward. Musso picked it up on the second bounds and made his break.
Defensive end Chikwe Obasih delivered the first critical block, sealing left guard Brian Allen at UW’s own 40. Michigan State quarterback Tyler O’Connor cut off Musso at the Spartans 43, but the former prep tailback from Waunakee put on the breaks, delivered a right stiff arm and a spin move to dispatch O’Connor to the turf.
“Flash backs from back in the day for sure,” Musso said. “It was fun to get the ball in my hands.”
Clear sailing for the next 40 yards, outside linebacker Vince Biegel dispatched the final chance – fullback Prescott Line – at the Spartans 8 to clear the path for Musso.
“I was really happy for Musso,” Dixon said. “I was real happy for us, just real happy.”
Not as happy as redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook. Having a chance to push the lead to two possessions to start the third quarter, Wisconsin’s offense went three-and-out inside its own 15, giving the Spartans great field position at midfield. Had the Spartans found the end zone on that drive, the sellout crowd is back in the game.
“That was one of the best offensive plays we had in the game,” Hornibrook said. “I was pumped up about that. For moose to get that big touchdown, that was huge for us.”
Endicott bounces back
Andrew Endicott desperately wanted to nail the 55-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first half.
Finding out on Thursday that kicker Rafael Gaglianone would miss the game with a back injury, Endicott wanted redemption after missing an extra point in the second quarter by kicking in the same direction where he hit a 53-yard try in warmups.
But with UW leading by seven, getting the ball to start the second half, Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst opted for a Hail Mary play, especially when the Spartans put a player on the end line to possibly return the kick should it end up short. The attempt failed tremendously, with Hornibrook’s throw being intercepted well short of the end zone.
“You don’t want to see a kick-six situation,” Endicott said. “Just the scenario of the game, it wouldn’t be smart to do it. I was a little upset. I kind of wanted it. I wanted to beat Raf’s (career) long.
The senior – who had lost his kickoff duties to sophomore P.J. Rosowski - rebounded by making his next two extra points and nailing a 41-yard kick with 4:58 left in the third quarter that gave UW a 23-6 lead.
“Obviously, it’d be great to have that extra point back,” he said. “There’s nothing I can do about it now. … It looked like I was just kicking not to miss. They all trust me enough to just kick it. If I hit a good ball, it’s going to go in. So that’s when I really clicked that I don’t need to try to just push it through. If I hit the ball that I know I can hit, then it’s going to go in. That 41-yarder definitely felt a lot better.”
Clement Not Discouraged
Although listed as questionable on Wisconsin’s depth chart, and unable to discuss his tender left ankle with the media during the week, tailback Corey Clement said there was no doubt he was playing in the conference opener.
Saying he practiced “at 100 percent” all week, Clement had touchdown runs of 1 and 5 yards, the highlights of a day where he grinded for 54 yards on 23 carries with a long of 22.
“The defense is very stout,” Clement said. “Hats off to a great defense. I’m pretty sure I’ve got many more games to break out, but this game is really all about getting the ‘W.’”
Clement didn’t call anybody out as to why the running game didn’t function (UW ran for 122 total yards on 41 attempts) but said his ankle was fine after missing last week’s game against Georgia State. He said he probably could have played against the Panthers but that “playing last week would have slowed me up this week.”
“I think I made the best decision,” Clement said. “Now I’m leaving Michigan State 4-0. It’s an awesome feeling.”
Extra Points: The Badgers are the first Big Ten team to tally a pair of top-10 wins by Oct. 1 since Penn State turned the trick in 1999 … The last time Wisconsin opened its Big Ten schedule with a road win was a 38-20 win at Illinois to begin conference play in 2003 … Wisconsin claimed its first road win over a team ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll for the first time since a 20-17 win at No. 5 Purdue on Oct. 16, 2004 … Junior LB Jack Cichy recorded six tackles, including one tackle for loss. He now has six TFLs in his last five games dating back to last season.