Wisconsin kept its conference title hopes alive Saturday, beating Michigan 27-18 in Madison, Wisc. Not only did the Badgers score the win, they secured a must-have bonus point and prevented the Wolverines from getting one.
The loss is Michigan’s first of the season, in conference or out, but with one week left in the regular season, the Wolverines are still in the driver seat to reach the Big Ten Championship Game. If they beat rival Michigan State and score a bonus point in doing so next week, they’ll play Indiana in the conference title game. If Wisconsin bonus points in a win over Iowa next Saturday and Michigan does anything but the same against the Spartans, the Badgers will play the Hoosiers.
“We’re only in control of our games, so we might need a little bit of help next week, but we knew that we had a couple of games left. We knew we had to take care of business last week at Illinois,” said Wisconsin captain Jordi Heginbottom.
“We knew we had to get a win against Michigan, we had to score four tries, get the bonus point and keep them to less than four tries and outside of seven points, and we were able to do that with a late kick today. We got our job done and that’s all we told the team, is we have to take care of our own business and the rest will play itself out.”
The man hitting that late kick to rob Michigan of a bonus point was Heginbottom. The senior flyhalf accounted for 17 points Saturday, with two tries, two conversions and a penalty in his last home game as a Badger. Fellow seniors Kurtis Shepherd, Tony Esealuka, Rob Gorowsky and Neil Warren also played well in their final home games at Wisconsin.
“We have a few guys who were able to go out with a win today, which was great news for us,” Heginbottom said.
Michigan held an 8-7 lead just before halftime, but Wisconsin wing Hunter Crass ran in a try at the end of the half to give the Badgers a lead they’d not relinquish. Wisconsin extended that lead to 17-8 in the second stanza, but Michigan rebutted, and the Wolverines never let the Badgers get more than two scores away from them the entire game.
Tries: Heginbottom (2), Crass, Gaenslen
Cons: Heginbottom (2)
Tries: Kasten, Van Harn, Vecchio