Wisconsin is still in the running for the Big Ten West Division crown as they prepare for a road trip to Penn State this weekend. With the Badgers in need of a win, it remains unknown if starting quarterback Alex Hornibrook will be available.
Wisconsin’s injury report at the beginning of the week listed Hornibrook as questionable for this weekend’s road game against the Nittany Lions. Hornibrook returned to the starting lineup this past weekend at home against Rutgers after sitting out a game two weeks ago against Northwestern due to not passing the concussion protocol. Hornibrook left Saturday’s win against Rutgers with a head injury concern.
If Hornibrook is unable to play for Wisconsin, the Badgers will once again put the ball in the hands of Jack Coan. Coan, a sophomore, completed 20 of 31 pass attempts for 158 yards and a touchdown in a 31-17 loss to Northwestern, and he filled in for the injured Hornibrook on Saturday against Rutgers by completing five of seven attempts for 64 yards and a touchdown.
With Coan at quarterback, Wisconsin should be expected to stick to their running game with perhaps a little more emphasis on the ground with Jonathan Taylor against a Penn State defense that will be looking to bounce back after giving up 35 points to Michigan in a 42-7 loss in Ann Arbor. Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley has also been playing a little banged up in recent weeks as well, although there has been no indication his status will be adjusted this week against the Badgers.
Wisconsin trails Northwestern by one game in the Big Ten West Division standings and would lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Wildcats. In order for Wisconsin to return to the Big Ten Championship Game for a third consecutive season, Wisconsin will have to finish ahead of Northwestern in the division standings. A loss at Penn State would severely hurt Wisconsin’s chances given Northwestern’s remaining schedule (at Iowa, at Minnesota, home vs. Illinois). The Badgers have a road game at Purdue after their road trip to Penn State and then a home game to close out the regular season against rival Minnesota.