Alex Hornibrook


This late in the season, a deep array of statistics is there for the analysts' delight, and the stat book on Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook is that he has a propensity to put the ball up for grabs, topping the Big Ten with 13 interceptions.

But before Ohio State thinks that makes the left-hander shaky in the eyes of his teammates headed into Saturday’s Big Ten title game, Wisconsin left tackle Michael Dieter pointed out the Badgers are unbeaten and No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings. In other words, none of those interceptions led to an implosion.

The reason, Deiter said, is Hornibrook stayed the course.

“I would definitely describe him as calm and confident, even when things aren’t going his way,” Deiter said. “He’s definitely had some moments this year when fans were down on him, maybe he didn’t have his best game, and it didn’t waiver him at all. He stayed focused, and he made big plays in big games when we needed him to.”

The stats also back that up. Hornibrook is second in the Big Ten only to Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett in quarterback rating. Hornibrook has completed 63.9 percent of his passes with 21 touchdown tosses. Ohio State defenders took note.

“He runs the show,” linebacker Chris Worley said. “They have a great running attack, great offensive line, great running back, a run-first offense. But they have a guy at the quarterback position who can make every throw … and when they do decide to pass they have a quarterback that can do it all.”

The Buckeyes will seek to make Hornibrook put a few more up for grabs while also trying to contain the Wisconsin run game led by freshman Jonathan Taylor. But Deiter indicated it will take a lot to shake Hornibrook.

“He leads. … He’s been a really steady figure for the whole offense to look at and say, ‘That’s just how you’ve got to be,’ " Deiter said. “Football is weird sometimes and if you let it get to you you’re not going to play good. And if you think you’re above it you’re not going to play good. I just feel he’s done a very good job of balancing all that.”