Erik Buchinger | 51 minutes ago
All is not well in Badger Land.
For the second Saturday in a row, Wisconsin remained competitive against a ranked opponent before the wheels fell in the second half, and this weekend’s result was a 38-17 home loss to Michigan. A week after allowing 31 unanswered points in the fourth quarter against Notre Dame, the Badgers were outdone 24-0 in the second half on Saturday until an insignificant Wisconsin touchdown in the last minute.
Wisconsin (1-3, 0-2 Big Ten) knew they had to start this season with a busy schedule, but they were hugely disappointing from the start. In what was to be an exciting rebound year, Paul Chryst will need to put in some incredible coaching work to keep this team motivated.
As the team prepares for an Illinois side under Bret Bielema next Saturday, let’s take a look at the toll of the loss to the Wolverines.
For the second week in a row, it’s hard to give that Badgers offense anything but an F after another lousy performance. Wisconsin started the game with four three-and-outs with a total of under-7 offensive yards during that span. The Badgers have moved the ball well on each of their last two halftime practices: a 15-game practice resulting in a field goal, followed by a 3-game, 65-yard practice just at the end of the half-time. first half.
On both of those drives, Graham Mertz has looked as good as he has been throughout the season, completing 8 of 10 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. He looked confident, got into the throws and gave his wide receivers a chance to play downstream, especially on Chimere Dike’s last two throws. The second of those went for an 18-yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone.
Unfortunately, that was it for Mertz, who left the game on first possession after half-time with a chest injury and never returned. He ended his day completing 8 of 15 passes for 115 yards with one touchdown and zero turnovers.
Those who wanted to see substitute QB Chase Wolf make the start after Mertz struggles at the start of the season have discovered why the substitute has not been an option so far. Entering the match, he threw 3 interceptions in 12 career pass attempts, and on Saturday he played very poorly in the second half. Wolf lost a fumble on his second possession and ended any chance of a comeback with a bad interception on the first play of his third disc.
Thanks to 20 career assists, Wolf now has 4 interceptions, so let’s stop saying he should take over as number one. It’s Mertz’s job assuming he’s healthy enough to play.
Wisconsin averaged 1.3 yards per carry and the offensive line struggled to open holes and protect quarterbacks. No one in the usual three-way backfield of Chez Mellusi, Jalen Berger or Isaac Guerendo has been very effective, but Braelon Allen is a player to watch for the rest of this season. He’s a 17-year-old physical freak and looked the best of that group of backers on Saturday in a limited 5 carries for 19 yards, which led the team.
Allen has been in three games this season, so it looks like the Badgers have no plans to redshirt him. Expect him to be more involved moving forward to provide a spark. The offense needs it because this is a group that doesn’t have a lot of identity at this point.
The Badgers have been fantastic at this point in the season on defense, but that doesn’t matter when the offense can’t move the ball consistently. This team is so one-sided and that must frustrate the defense. Wisconsin contained Michigan’s heavy offense, allowing just 2.5 yards per carry, but the Badgers were beaten deep a few times, leading to touchdown passes for the Wolverines.
A week after dominating the Notre Dame offensive line for 12 tackles for losses, Wisconsin had only 2 on Saturday with 0 sacks.
Again, the Badgers’ defense received no help. Three turnovers gave the Wolverines the ball from Wisconsin’s 5, 33 and 35-yard line. All things considered, the Wisconsin defense did a good job of limiting damage, allowing just 13 points on possessions that followed.
Michigan aggressively came out in fourth, converting 4 of 5 attempts to extend practices. These conversions were killers for this defense. Wisconsin weren’t that great defensively but played their worst game of the season. If the Badgers let go a bit on that side of the ball, this season could derail in a way we haven’t seen in many years with this schedule.
Special teams: C
The week before, a special teams error sparked Notre Dame’s dominance in the fourth quarter with a kick return touchdown. Against Michigan, the Badgers’ punt return made the biggest blunder. A Michigan punt bounced off Badger Hunter Wohler for a turnaround, putting the Wolverines at the 5-yard line. A field goal gave the Wolverines a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter. With the Badgers’ weak offense, special teams can’t be the reason Wisconsin is allowing points.
Andy Vujnovich had another busy day with 8 punts for an average of 44.9 yards with a 55 long, including 2 inside the 20-yard line. Some of his punches weren’t high enough and led to some decent returns for Michigan. Still, he continues to perform well in a season where position on the pitch is incredibly important.
Collin Larsh scored a 34-yard field goal on his lone attempt and scored the extra two runs. Jack Van Dyke kicked off 4 times with 1 touchback and a kick that went out of bounds.