Leo Musso returned a fumble 66 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter and No. 11 Wisconsin turned its early-season showdown with No. 8 Michigan State into a rout, beating the Spartans 30-6 on Saturday.
Redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook threw for 195 yards and a touchdown in his first start for Wisconsin, outplaying fifth-year senior Tyler O'Connor, his Michigan State counterpart. The Badgers (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) were the better team in the first half and then outscored the Spartans 17-0 in the third quarter.
"We know what we can do and we feel pretty good, and we feel pretty good with our team," Hornibrook said. "I was glad with the way we played today."
Michigan State (2-1, 0-1) was down 13-6 early in the third and had the ball in Wisconsin territory when LJ Scott's fumble bounced to Musso in the secondary. O'Connor was the only player with a decent shot at him on the return, and Musso spun past the quarterback and went all the way to the end zone.
O'Connor finished 18 of 38 for 224 yards with three interceptions.
Wisconsin: Some were skeptical about the Badgers after their season-opening win over LSU, since it wasn't clear if LSU would be as tough as advertised this season. But Wisconsin has now gone on the road and pounded the defending Big Ten champions. Even before the Badgers took total control in the third quarter, they were pressuring O'Connor and preventing Michigan State from doing anything significant with its running game.
Michigan State: A win at Notre Dame last weekend looked like business as usual for the Spartans, but their outlook changes considerably now. This was their most lopsided defeat at Spartan Stadium since falling 42-14 to Penn State in 2009.
"People have been saying a lot of good things about us lately," coach Mark Dantonio said. "And now we'll take some shots."
Wisconsin: This was the start of a brutal five-game stretch for the Badgers. Next up is a trip to play Michigan in Ann Arbor next weekend, followed by games against Ohio State, Iowa and Nebraska.
Michigan State: The Spartans will have to change gears when they play on the road against an Indiana team that likes to move fast on offense.