Wisconsin Badgers coach Paul Chryst announced Thursday that fifth-year senior Bart Houston will be the team's starting quarterback for the season opener against LSU, ending one of the lengthiest fall camp competitions in the Big Ten.
Houston beat out redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook, who made such a strong case for the job that the two were neck-and-neck for weeks. Hornibrook will serve as the Badgers' backup, though Chryst noted the goal this fall was to prepare both quarterbacks to play.
Chryst informed his quarterbacks of the decision earlier in the day.
"I felt like Bart did everything that he needed to do and earned the right to get the start, and [I] was also energized by what Alex did," Chryst said. "And loved the way that he grew in fall camp. Both need to continue to keep growing. Wanted to get it done as we begin our preparation for LSU and make sure that everyone knew where we were at with it internally, and I'm excited to go forward now."
Wisconsin will play No. 5 LSU at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 3 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. During the Badgers' first open scrimmage of fall camp, Hornibrook clearly outplayed Houston and appeared to take a slight lead in the race. Hornibrook unofficially completed 11 of 15 passes for 119 yards with one touchdown and one interception, while Houston completed 6 of 15 passes for 73 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
Houston, however, made a comeback over the final two weeks of camp and bested Hornibrook during the Badgers' second open scrimmage last Friday. Houston unofficially completed 18 of 27 passes for 212 yards, while Hornibrook finished 16-of-29 for 143 yards. Houston, who is the only quarterback on the roster to have played in a college game, will make the first start of his career against LSU. He has appeared in 15 career games and played in seven games last season, completing 27 of 47 passes (57.4 percent) for 281 yards and three touchdowns.
Houston replaced injured starter Joel Stave against Illinois last October and helped lead Wisconsin to a 24-13 victory on the road, when he completed 22 of 33 passes for 232 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
"His job is to continue to improve and keep going," Chryst said. "Obviously talked about some of the things that I thought he did well and also covered some areas where I think that he can improve and did the same thing with Alex and wanted to make sure Alex knew that I thought he grew a ton.
"The confidence that not only the staff, but I think the rest of the team has in him, it's big. I think there's some specific areas that he knows he can get better at and specific areas he can build on that he does well. They were good conversations, and I'm sure we'll have more."