Michigan at Wisconsin score: No. 5 Badgers keep playoff hopes alive with grating win

No. 5 Wisconsin isn't ready to let the selection committee ignore it. The Badgers improved to 11-0 on the season, inching closer to a possible Big Ten title as well as a possible College Football Playoff berth by beating No. 24 Michigan 24-10 on Saturday.

Here's what you need to know about Saturday's game in Madison.

1. Wisconsin still needs help to reach the top four this week. Don't get me wrong, if Wisconsin wins its next two games (at Minnesota and the Big Ten Championship), it is going to the College Football Playoff. I just don't know that the Badgers will be in the top four next Tuesday when the newest rankings come out unless Oklahoma loses to Kansas on Saturday. The top three teams all won their games, and even if Michigan is one of the best teams Wisconsin has played this year, I don't think it carries enough weight to launch the Badgers into the top four.

But as I said, Wisconsin's ranking doesn't matter right now. All that matters is Wisconsin keeps winning. If it does that, it'll be just fine.

2. Alex Hornibrook has his flaws, but he makes some great plays sometimes. Trust me; I've been as hard on Hornibrook as anybody. I've been saying for the last few weeks that the one thing that would keep Wisconsin out of the playoff wasn't its schedule, but its quarterback. He makes some questionable decisions that put Wisconsin in a bad spot, but to this point, the Badgers have overcome them.

I want to give Hornibrook credit when he plays well, though, and he played well against Michigan. His numbers weren't eye-popping. OK, that's being generous. They weren't good. He finished only 9-for-19 for 143 yards with a touchdown and an interception. With that being the case, he still made two brilliant throws in the third quarter to help put Wisconsin in the lead.

First, Hornibrook dropped a dime over the shoulder of A.J. Taylor for a 51-yard completion to put the Badgers inside the Michigan 20. A few player later, Hornibrook unleashed a laser to Taylor in traffic for a 24-yard touchdown to give Wisconsin a 14-10 lead. The Badgers would never relinquish it.

3. Wisconsin dominated the second half. It's been a common theme for the Badgers all season, and it was no different Saturday. The score was tied 7-7 at halftime, and Michigan had been the better team in the first half. The Wolverines offense had 169 yards of offense while their defense held Wisconsin to only 99 yards.

The table turned in the second half when Wisconsin held the Michigan offense to only 65 yards despite the fact the Wolverines had the ball for nearly 20 minutes.

4. Michigan had its chances but caught some bad breaks. The deathblow for the Wolverines was probably the loss of quarterback Brandon Peters in the third quarter. Peters took a big hit following a pass and had to be carted off with what seemed to be a head injury. I don't think it's a coincidence that the Michigan offense picked up only 23 yards on 13 plays in the fourth quarter without him.

Of course, long before the injury, Michigan found itself on the wrong side of luck. There was a possible touchdown late in the first half that was ruled incomplete. Upon review, it looked as though Donovan Peoples-Jones may have gotten the toe of his left foot down in bounds just before his right foot landed out of bounds, but replay officials deemed the review inconclusive and stuck with the call on the field. A couple of plays later, Peters fumbled while scrambling on third down and Wisconsin recovered.

Had it originally been ruled a touchdown, things may have gone a bit differently on Saturday.

CBS Sports Writer

Tom Fornelli has been a college football writer at CBS Sports since 2010. During his time at CBS, Tom has proven time and again that he hates your favorite team and thinks your rival is a paragon of football... Full Bio

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