MADISON — The scene was all too familiar.
Michigan’s quarterback lay motionless on the turf. The players around him started waiving for the trainers, and as they came running, those within the confines of Camp Randall Stadium began holding their breath.
Finally he sat up, hunched over, while his team knelt on the sidelines — the same team he had helped lead within firing distance of the fifth-ranked Badgers. The cart came wheeling across the field, and onto it the Wolverines’ quarterback went. It was in that moment that Michigan’s sideline stopped kneeling, and instead surrounded Brandon Peters, moments before he was carted off the field.
“It was symbolic,” said sophomore running back Chris Evans of the team’s gesture. “We know what he’s been through throughout the season. He just started a couple games ago, and we were going good.
“… To see him like that was devastating — to see all the hard work and see him go to the ground. He’s a tough guy. He’s gonna fight back. He was standing in the pocket tough.”
The only problem is that Peters was asked to be too tough. The hits kept coming. The pocket kept collapsing.
It was like the sequel to a bad movie, only they had replaced the lead actor.
This time it was Peters. Last time it was Wilton Speight.
The one thing that remained the same? John O’Korn needed to find a quick solution to a catastrophe.
He managed to do so against Purdue. But the magic, it appeared, ran out in West Lafayette — just as it had in State College, Bloomington and against Michigan State. And really, there are only so many times someone can change their narrative.
O’Korn’s first throw was a 11-yard completion to freshman wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones. He only recorded one more for the rest of the game — completing just two of his eight attempts for a meager 19 yards.
In some cases, he didn’t get the help he needed.
With just over nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, O’Korn found sophomore tight end Sean McKeon on a crossing route for what should have been a big gain to open O’Korn’s second offensive series. Instead, McKeon dropped a pass that hit both of his hands.
In others, he didn’t help himself — reverting to escaping the pocket before it even developed and locking in on a single receiver.
The Badgers took full advantage, biting into a lifeless offense that couldn’t manage to run the ball and suddenly lost its best chance of moving the ball through the air.
Peters, meanwhile, had been long gone.
His day ended with just over two minutes left in the third quarter. He took the snap on 3rd-and-5 from Michigan’s own 30-yard line, and looked wide to Evans. As he was, Wisconsin’s Andrew Van Ginkel streaked unchecked through the middle of the line. And just as Peters released the ball, Van Ginkel laid the hit that left the redshirt freshman on the turf.
He immediately motioned for the trainers. The cart came. Peters was taken down the tunnel in a wheelchair and transported to the hospital. As reported by Max Bultman of The Athletic, Peters was knocked out. Now, he is alert but has a headache, and the CT was clear.
But Evans didn’t know that after the game. He said when O’Korn entered the huddle, his message was that Michigan needed to “do it for BP.” The Wolverines, as a whole, agreed they “owed” Peters this game.
The only problem, though, is that they couldn’t deliver.