Sep 7, 2013; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers helmets sit on the field during warmups prior to the game against the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin won 48-0. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Football: Week 5 Depth Chart + Injury Report For Game vs. Illinois

Madison, Wis. — Wisconsin football (2-2) official released its two-deep depth chart and injury report ahead of its fifth game vs. the Illinois Fighting Illini (3-1).

Here is a look at where things stand heading into Week 5:


Offensive Two-Deep

Nov 20, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) hands the football off to running back Braelon Allen (0) during the first quarter against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback

Starter: Graham Mertz (RS JR)

Backup: Myles Burkett (FR) OR Deacon Hill (RS FR)

Running Back

Starter: Braelon Allen (SO)

Backup: Chez Mellusi (SR)

Reserve: Isaac Guerendo (RS SR)

Fullback

Starter: Jackson Acker (RS FR)

Backup: Riley Nowakowski (RS SO)

Wide Receiver 

Starter: Chimere Dike (JR)

Backup: Markus Allen (RS FR)

Wide Receiver 

Starter: Skyler Bell (RS FR)

Backup: Keontez Lewis (SO)

Tight End

Starter: Hayden Rucci (RS JR)

Backup: Jack Eschenback (RS SR)

Left Tackle

Starter: Jack Nelson (RS SO)

Backup: Nolan Rucci (RS FR)

Left Guard

Starter: Tyler Beach (RS SR)

Backup: Joe Brunner (FR)

Center

Starter: Joe Tippmann (RS JR)

Backup: Trey Wedig (RS SO)

Right Guard

Starter: Tanor Bortolini (RS SO)

Backup: Michael Furtney (RS SR)

Right Tackle 

Starter: Riley Mahlman (RS FR)

Backup: Logan Brown (RS JR)


Defensive Two-Deep

MADISON, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 02: Wisconsin defensive coach Jim Leonhard looks on in the fourth quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Camp Randall Stadium on October 02, 2021 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

Defensive End

Starter: Rodas Johnson (RS JR)

Backup: Cade McDonald (RS SO)

Nose Tackle

Starter: Keeanu Benton (SR)

Backup: Gio Paez (RS JR)

Defensive End 

Starter: Isaiah Mullens (RS SR)

Backup: James Thompson Jr. (RS SO)

Outside Linebacker

Starter: Nick Herbig (JR)

Backup: Kaden Johnson (RS SO)

Inside Linebacker 

Starter: Jordan Turner (RS SO)

Backup: Tatum Grass (RS JR)

Inside Linebacker

Starter: Maema Njongmeta (RS JR)

Backup: Jake Chaney (SO)

Outside Linebacker

Starter: C.J. Goetz (RS SR)

Backup: Darryl Peterson (RS FR)

Cornerback

Starter: Alexander Smith (RS SR)

Backup: Ricardo Hallman (RS FR)

Cornerback 

Starter: Jay Shaw (RS SR)

Backup: Semar Melvin (RS JR)

Nickel Corner

Starter: Cedrick Dort Jr. (RS SR)

Backup: Justin Clark (GR)

Strong Safety

Starter: John Torchio (RS SR)

Backup: Titus Toler (RS JR)

Free Safety 

Starter: Kamo’i Latu (RS JR)

Backup: Preston Zachman (RS SO)


Special Teams Two-Deep

Sep 4, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers punter Andy Vujnovich (38) during the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Punter

Starter: Andy Vujnovich (RS SR)

Backup: Gavin Meyers (RS SO)

Field Goals

Starter: Vito Calvaruso (JR)**

Backup: Nate Van Zelst (RS FR)

**Update: On the injury report.  Nate Van Zelst expected to fill in.

Kickoff

Starter: Jack Van Dyke (JR)

Backup: Vito Calvaruso (JR)

Long-Snapper

Starter: Peter Bowden (RS JR)

Backup: Zach Zei (RS FR)

Holder

Starter: Gavin Meyers (RS SO)

Backup: Andy Vujnovich (RS SR)

Punt Return

Starter: Dean Engram (RS JR)

Backup: Chimere Dike (JR)

Kick Return

Starter: Isaac Guerendo (RS SR)

Backup: Keontez Lewis (SO)


Wisconsin Football Injury Report vs. Illinois

Players listed as Questionable:

  • N/A

Players listed as OUT:

  • K Vito Calvaruso – Leg (Right)
  • TE Clay Cundiff – Leg (Left)
  • TE Cam Large – Leg (Right)
  • CB Alexander Smith – Leg (Right)
  • OLB Aaron Witt – Leg (Right)
  • S Hunter Wohler – Leg (Left)
  • QB Chase Wolf – Leg (Right)

 Out for the season:

  • S Travian Blaylock – Leg (Right)
  • DE Mike Jarvis – Leg (Left)
  • ILB Luna Larson – Leg (Right)
  • DE Isaac Townsend – Leg (Left)


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MADISON, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 02: Wisconsin defensive coach Jim Leonhard looks on in the fourth quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Camp Randall Stadium on October 02, 2021 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Badgers: Studs and Duds vs. No. 3 Ohio State

Wisconsin Badgers: Studs and Duds vs. No. 3 Ohio State

The Wisconsin Badgers (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten) were defeated by the Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) in Saturday night’s Big Ten opener.

The Badgers were utterly outclassed in all three phases, suffering a 52-21 loss.

There were very few positives to take away from this matchup, but let’s look at the studs and duds from UW’s week four loss.


Stud(s)

Braelon Allen

Sep 3, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) celebrates after rushing for a touchdown during the second quarter against the Illinois State Redbirds at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

One of the only bright spots on Saturday night was Braelon Allen. The sophomore back posted a stat line of 23 carries for 165 yards and a touchdown. Additionally, Allen notched 3 receptions for 6 yards and even completed a 10 yard pass to Jack Eschenbach. 

The Badgers RB1 did it all in Columbus, but it was not enough to take home a victory or even keep it close. 

While there were few positives to take away, Allen was a glimmer of hope for the Badgers. The 18-year-old continues to show signs of improvement from game to game. The second-year starter will likely continue to be the focal point of the offense.

Allen was the lone bright spot on Saturday night, so let’s take a look at the duds…


Duds

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 30: Head coach Paul Chryst of the Wisconsin Badgers looks on from the sidelines against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl at Allegiant Stadium on December 30, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Badgers defeated the Sun Devils 20-13. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

Defense

To put it lightly, the defense was dreadful on Saturday night. The Ohio State offense, led by CJ Stroud, got everything they wanted. Wisconsin’s defense crumbled right away, allowing 210 yards of offense and a 21-0 deficit in the first quarter. 

There were few adjustments made, and Ohio State just kept pouring it on. By the time halftime rolled around, the Badgers had allowed 328 yards of offense and were trailing 31-7. 

Wisconsin had no answers for Stroud and company, allowing 539 total yards of offense with 281 yards coming through the air.

The Badgers were touted for their defense heading into this matchup. However, UW could not put stops together and allowed Stroud to put together one of his best passing performances of the season with 281 yards, 5 touchdowns, and one interception.

Wisconsin has the defensive talent to rebound from this game and have a solid season on that end. However, the defense ended up as a dud this week.

Coaching

There has been plenty of conversation around Paul Chryst’s job security lately. After an embarrassing loss on national TV, those conversations will likely be reignited. 

After the loss to Ohio State, Chryst’s record against top 10 opponents fell to 5-10. While the talent gap between OSU and Wisconsin is vast, the Badgers hardly put up a fight. 

The entire coaching staff did not seem confident whatsoever in this matchup as the Badgers seemingly waved the white flag very early in the game when the Badgers punted on 4th-and-1 in the first quarter, down 21-0.

While the defensive coaching was the poorest of all, the entire coaching staff was to blame in this one. Wisconsin came out flat on both ends and was simply outcoached on Saturday night.

Adjustments will need to made going forward if Wisconsin is looking to contend for the Big Ten West title.

Graham Mertz

Although Mertz has looked like the most complete version of himself this season, Saturday night was a step back for the third-year starter.

Ohio State marched down the field with ease to go up 7-0 on the first possession of the game. Following that, Mertz threw an interception on his first pass attempt of the game. After that back-breaking turnover, the game was all but over.

The redshirt junior posted a stat line of 94 yards, one touchdown, and an interception. Mertz found Skyler bell four times for 55 yards and spread the ball evenly to his other wideouts. However, the passing attack left plenty to be desired.

While it’s possible to chalk his lackluster performance up to a lack of confidence after an interception on his first pass attempt, the Kansas native just couldn’t find a way to bounce back. 

Mertz now falls to 2-7 against ranked opponents as the Badger’s starting quarterback. Luckily for Wisconsin, no currently ranked teams are left on their schedule. 

The Badgers will move on to face the Illinois Fighting Illini next week, looking to right the ship in their second matchup of conference play.


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Sep 24, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end Jack Sawyer (33) sacks Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) during the first half of the NCAA Division I football game at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch Ncaa Football Wisconsin Badgers At Ohio State Buckeyes

Post Game Recap: Wisconsin Badgers fall to Buckeyes 52-21

No. 3 Ohio State (4-0, 1-0) made Saturday night miserable for the Wisconsin Badgers (2-2, 0-1) as C.J. Stroud, TreVeyon Henderson, Miyan Williams, and Emeka Egbuka led the Buckeyes to a dominating 52-21 victory.

Wisconsin Badgers Crushed in Columbus

Ohio State opened the game with a six-play, 88-yard scoring drive in the first three minutes, which OSU parlayed into a 28-0 scoring run in the first 21 minutes of the game.

C.J. Stroud found the tight end, Cade Stover, in the endzone twice in the first quarter, setting the tone for the entire game. Stover finished with four receptions on six targets resulting in 51 receiving yards and those two touchdowns.

Ohio State’s 539 yards were the most allowed by the Badgers since OSU totaled 558 against UW in the 2014 Big Ten title game.

Coming off a blowout win over New Mexico State last weekend, Graham Mertz and the Badgers’ offense came out flat against the Buckeye defense.

Mertz finished the game with 11 completions on 20 passes, and he passed for a mere 94 yards with two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) and an interception that came early in the first quarter.

Braelon Allen carried much of the offensive load on Saturday, rushing for 165 yards on 23 attempts, including a 75-yard touchdown.

What’s Next?

Following Saturday’s loss, the Badgers will return to Madison to face the 3-1 University of Illinois Fighting Illini on October 1. That game is scheduled to kick off at 11:00 a.m. CST on Big Ten Network.


 

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Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen (0) and the rest of the offensive unit listens to quarterback Graham Mertz (5) in the huddle during their game Saturday, November 20, 2021 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin beat Nebraska 35-28. Mjs Uwgrid21 24 Jpg Uwgrid21

Wisconsin Badgers vs. New Mexico State: What to watch for

Wisconsin Badgers vs. New Mexico State: What to watch for

Madison, Wis. – The Wisconsin Badgers (1-1) will host the New Mexico State Aggies (0-3) on Saturday, September 13, at Camp Randall Stadium.

Following a brutal 17-14 loss against the Washington State Cougars, the Badgers will look to right the ship in their final non-conference matchup.

Here are some items worth watching for in week three:


How will the Badger’s offense respond following a disappointing loss?

In Wisconsin’s week one matchup against Illinois State, the Badgers put together a complete performance on the ground and through the air.

In week two, it was not the same story.

While the offensive stats favored Wisconsin, costly mistakes allowed the Cougars to secure a 17-14 win. The Badgers committed three turnovers last week, with two fumbles and one interception.

The game plan had a few bumps in the road, considering Washington State had answers for the UW’s running back duo of Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi. Furthermore, the wide receiver group struggled after Chimere Dike, and Markus Allen dropped passes.

One group that struggled the most was the offensive line. Left guard Tyler Beach and right tackle Logan Brown notched a top 5 offensive PFF grade, but all and all, the line was disappointing.

Although quarterback Graham Mertz made impressive throws when given time in the pocket, he did not have adequate time on all his dropbacks.

Heading into Saturday’s matchup, the Badgers must come out of the gates firing on all cylinders. The offense will need a big game from their running back tandem, who struggled against Washington State’s sound run defense. Conversely, the WR room must get involved against New Mexico State and limit mistakes when given the opportunity.

After a tough outing last week, how the Badger’s offense responds will be an interesting storyline to watch in week 3.


Will Clay Cundiff become the focal point of Wisconsin’s passing attack?

Although Clay Cundiff coughed up an untimely fumble in the fourth quarter against Washington State, the redshirt junior tight end looked like one of the best receiving options on the Wisconsin offense.

In week two, the Kansas native hauled in four catches for 59 yards and two touchdowns.

Despite the back-breaking turnover, Cundiff received a vote of confidence from his quarterback after a strong performance in week two.

Mertz has favored the tight ends in the passing game in his two years as a starter, and Cundiff looks like a reliable option for the third-year starter.

The 6-foot-3, 236-pound tight end has caught six passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns through two games.

Cundiff has the tools to be a formidable tight end and will be a player to watch as he builds off a strong outing in week two.

If you keep an eye on any one player this week, Clay Cundiff is an excellent place to start.


Will the special teams unit fix the mistakes?

Although there were plenty of concerns coming out of week two, the special teams unit was arguably the biggest.

The special teams unit proved costly in the matchup against Washington State as kicker Vito Calvaruso missed two field goal attempts. The Arkansas transfer is now 1-for-4 on field goal attempts in two games this year.

However, Calvaruso was not the only concern on special teams. At the beginning of the third quarter, Washington State had a significant kickoff return that later set up a field goal to close the gap on Wisconsin’s lead and ultimately allowed the Cougars to notch a three-point victory.

Not only that, but the return game has been a big concern for Wisconsin. In two games, punt returner Dean Engram has posted only two yards in his return opportunities. The Badgers are losing out on field position due to the poor return game, which is becoming costly to the Badger’s success in the third phase.

For Wisconsin to get things back on track and notch a victory in week three, limiting mistakes on special teams will be one of the most critical factors.

Although the offense will need to make strides in week three, the special teams unit may be one of the most important groups to watch.


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Sep 7, 2013; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers helmets sit on the field during warmups prior to the game against the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin won 48-0. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Football: Week 3 Depth Chart + Injury Report For Game vs. New Mexico State

Madison, Wis. — Wisconsin football official released its two-deep depth chart and injury report ahead of its third game vs. the New Mexico State Aggies.

Here is a look at where things stand heading into Week 3:


Offensive Two-Deep

Nov 20, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) hands the football off to running back Braelon Allen (0) during the first quarter against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback

Starter: Graham Mertz (RS JR)

Backup: Myles Burkett (FR) OR Deacon Hill (RS FR)

Running Back

Starter: Braelon Allen (SO)

Backup: Chez Mellusi (SR)

Reserve: Isaac Guerendo (RS SR)

Fullback

Starter: Jackson Acker (RS FR)

Backup: Riley Nowakowski (RS SO)

Wide Receiver 

Starter: Chimere Dike (JR)

Backup: Markus Allen (RS FR)

Wide Receiver 

Starter: Skyler Bell (RS FR)

Backup: Keontez Lewis (SO)

Tight End

Starter: Clay Cundiff (RS JR)

Backup: Hayden Rucci (RS JR)

Left Tackle

Starter: Jack Nelson (RS SO)

Backup: Nolan Rucci (RS FR)

Left Guard

Starter: Tyler Beach (RS SR)

Backup: Joe Brunner (FR)

Center

Starter: Joe Tippmann (RS JR)

Backup: Trey Wedig (RS SO)

Right Guard

Starter: Michael Furtney (RS SR)

Backup: Dylan Barrett (RS SO)

Right Tackle 

Starter: Riley Mahlman (RS FR)

Backup: Logan Brown (RS JR)


Defensive Two-Deep

MADISON, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 02: Wisconsin defensive coach Jim Leonhard looks on in the fourth quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Camp Randall Stadium on October 02, 2021 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

Defensive End

Starter: Rodas Johnson (RS JR)

Backup: Cade McDonald (RS SO)

Nose Tackle

Starter: Keeanu Benton (SR)

Backup: Gio Paez (RS JR)

Defensive End 

Starter: Isaiah Mullens (RS SR)

Backup: James Thompson Jr. (RS SO)

Outside Linebacker

Starter: Nick Herbig (JR)

Backup: Kaden Johnson (RS SO)

Inside Linebacker 

Starter: Jordan Turner (RS SO)

Backup: Tatum Grass (RS JR)

Inside Linebacker

Starter: Maema Njongmeta (RS JR)

Backup: Jake Chaney (SO)

Outside Linebacker

Starter: C.J. Goetz (RS SR)

Backup: Darryl Peterson (RS FR)

Cornerback

Starter: Alexander Smith (RS SR)

Backup: Ricardo Hallman (RS FR)

Cornerback 

Starter: Jay Shaw (RS SR)

Backup: Semar Melvin (RS JR)

Nickel Corner

Starter: Cedrick Dort Jr. (RS SR)

Backup: Justin Clark (GR)

Strong Safety

Starter: John Torchio (RS SR)

Backup: Titus Toler (RS JR)

Free Safety 

Starter: Kamo’i Latu (RS JR) OR Preston Zachman (RS SO)


Special Teams Two-Deep

Sep 4, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers punter Andy Vujnovich (38) during the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Punter

Starter: Andy Vujnovich (RS SR)

Backup: Gavin Meyers (RS SO)

Field Goals

Starter: Vito Calvaruso (JR)

Backup: Nate Van Zelst (RS FR)

Kickoff

Starter: Jack Van Dyke (JR)

Backup: Vito Calvaruso (JR)

Long-Snapper

Starter: Peter Bowden (RS JR)

Backup: Zach Zei (RS FR)

Holder

Starter: Gavin Meyers (RS SO)

Backup: Andy Vujnovich (RS SR)

Punt Return

Starter: Dean Engram (RS JR)

Backup: Chimere Dike (JR)

Kick Return

Starter: Isaac Guerendo (RS SR)

Backup: Keontez Lewis (SO)


Wisconsin Football Injury Report vs. Illinois State

Players listed as Questionable:

  • N/A

Players listed as OUT:

  • OL Tanor Bortolini – Leg (Right)
  • WR Stephan Bracey – Leg (Right)
  • TE Cam Large – Leg (Right)
  • ILB Spencer Lytle – Leg (Left)
  • CB Alexander Smith – Leg (Right)
  • OLB Aaron Witt – Leg (Right)
  • S Hunter Wohler – Leg (Left)
  • QB Chase Wolf – Leg (Right)

 Out for the season:

  • S Travian Blaylock – Leg (Right)
  • DE Mike Jarvis – Leg (Left)
  • ILB Luna Larson – Leg (Right)
  • DE Isaac Townsend – Leg (Left)


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Sep 10, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; General view of Camp Randall Stadium during the second quarter of the game between the Washington State Cougars and Wisconsin Badgers. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Badgers PFF Grades: Top 5 Offensive/Defensive Players In Week 2 vs. Washington State

Madison, Wis. – Weather, as they say, is the great equalizer in football. That held true on Saturday when the No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers (1-1) suffered a sloppy, unacceptable home loss against the Washington State Cougars (2-0) at Camp Randall Stadium.

If you were to only look at the box score, you’d probably be happy with what you saw from the offense. However, if you watched the game, it told a very different story.


A look at the Badgers offense

PISCATAWAY, NJ – NOVEMBER 06 : Head coach Paul Chryst of the Wisconsin Badgers talks with quarterback Graham Mertz (5) during a game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at SHI Stadium on November 6, 2021 in Piscataway, New Jersey. Wisconsin defeated Rutgers 52-3. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Bobby Engram and company produced a balanced offensive attack for the second straight week, recording 401 total yards (227 passing, 174 running) but scoring only 14 points and turning the ball over three times.

At times, third-year starting quarterback Graham Mertz carried the Wisconsin Badgers offense, but his effort simply wasn’t enough to overcome untimely turnovers and sloppy play from all three phases.

Although he was far from perfect, Mertz completed 18-of-31 passes for 227 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Also worth noting is that 10 of his passes went for first downs. The Kansas native appears to have taken a step forward this season.


A look at the Badgers defense

MADISON, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 02: Wisconsin defensive coach Jim Leonhard looks on in the fourth quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Camp Randall Stadium on October 02, 2021 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

Jim Leonhard’s defense was good on Saturday but not as great as we’ve grown to expect.

Wisconsin, still without No. 1 cornerback Alexander Smith and top nickel corner Justin Clark chose to combat the Washington State air raid offense by playing significantly more dime package, deploying six defensive backs throughout most of the game.

Although the Badgers’ defense only allowed 17 points, 253 yards of offense, and forced three turnovers, Wisconsin’s offense couldn’t help get them any additional breathing room.

And when the game mattered most, UW’s defense failed to make a big play to allow the offense one last crack at winning the game. Washington State held the ball for the final 5:14 of regulation.

Overall, Wisconsin needs its defense to be elite for the Badgers to win games consistently, so while they performed well on Saturday, it wasn’t good enough.

I do not doubt that coach Leonhard and the Badgers’ defense will learn from this game and improve as the season progresses.


Top five highest graded offensive/defensive players

Wisconsin will look to get things back on track in a hurry, considering the Badgers are just two weeks away from a trip to Columbus to take on the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes.

Here’s a look at the top 5 highest graded offensive/defensive players from Wisconsin’s 17-14 loss to Washington State, according to Pro Football Focus:

Top 5 offense

  1. Tyler Beach (84.9) Elite
  2. Jack Nelson (76.9) High Quality
  3. Isaac Guerendo (71.1) Above Average
  4. Logan Brown (70.1) Above Average
  5. Keontez Lewis (69.6) Above Average

Top 5 defense

  1. John Torchio (77.7) High Quality
  2. Isaiah Mullens (75.3) High Quality
  3. Cedrick Dort Jr. (74.2) High Quality
  4. Maema Njongmeta (73.3) High Quality
  5. Jay Shaw (69.4) Above Average

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Nov 20, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) hands the football off to running back Braelon Allen (0) during the first quarter against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Badgers Come Up Short in Back-and-Forth Battle, Lose 17-14 in Week 2

Saturday’s football game between the No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers and the Washington State Cougars was par for the course in what the media described as “Upset Saturday.” Wisconsin was among the notable top 25 teams to lose, joining No. 9 Notre Dame and No. 6 Texas A&M.

The back-and-forth contest featured three turnovers from each team: Wisconsin taking the ball away twice via interception and one via fumble. On the flip side, Wisconsin gave the ball away twice on the ground and once through the air.

The comparisons between Wisconsin and Washington State end here, as the box score tells an entirely different story than the outcome.

Stats Favor the Badgers

If you look at the box score, you’d probably assume Wisconsin won, considering the Badgers bested the Cougars in nearly every team stat. UW produced 401 yards on offense, which bested the Cougars by 148 yards.

Wisconsin also came out on top in yards per play (5.3), first downs (23), third down efficiency (7/15), total plays (75), and time of possession (38:04).

New Cougars Play Key Role Against Defense

During the offseason, Washington State brought in two key assets to help improve their offense; quarterback Cameron Ward and former Wisconsin running back Nakia Watson.

Watson struck first against his former team, finding paydirt from two yards out to put the Cougars ahead with 9:47 left in the second quarter.

Then in the third quarter, Washington State’s new playmakers connected for their second touchdown of the day when Ward found Watson on a 31-yard touchdown pass. This score ended up being the difference in the ball game.

One Bright Spot

On a day when former Badgers tight end Travis Beckum was being honored for his induction into the Badger Hall of Fame (class of 2022), current Badgers TE Clay Cundiff had an impressive day of his own.

In the middle of the second quarter, QB Graham Mertz connected with Cundiff on a 17-yard pass to knot things up at 14 apiece.

A little over 6 minutes later, Mertz connected with the 6-foot-3, 236-pound TE on a 10-yard touchdown across the middle of the field.

Cundiff finished the day with four catches for 59 yards and two touchdowns.

What’s Next?

Following Saturday’s game, the Badgers (1-1) will remain in Madison to host the New Mexico State Aggies (0-2). The game starts at 2:30 PM CST and will air on BTN.


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CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – DECEMBER 30: Quarterback Graham Mertz #5 of the Wisconsin Badgers looks to take the snap against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during the first half of the Duke’s Mayo Bowl at Bank of America Stadium on December 30, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Game breakdown and Best bets: Week 2 No. 19 Wisconsin vs. Washington State Cougars

With the opening week of the college football season in the books, it’s time for our week 2 game breakdown and best bets. Make sure to check out all of our content for this week’s game and any Badgers news throughout the season at badgernotes.com

The No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers did precisely what was expected in their week one contest, shutting out the Illinois State Redbirds 38-0. Betting lines for the game became available a few hours before kickoff, with the Badgers covering as 36.5-point favorites (Always remember. Good teams win, but great teams cover).

For their week two matchup, the Badgers will take on the Washington State Cougars on Saturday, September 10th, at Camp Randall Stadium. Kickoff is at 2:30 pm CST(Fox).

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Game Breakdown

Washington State Cougars

Washington State is a step up in competition for the Badgers, taking on a Pac-12 school after playing an FCS opponent.

However, the Cougars also played an FCS opponent in week one and narrowly escaped with a victory defeating the Idaho Vandals 24-17.
Wisconsin is currently a heavy 17-point favorite, but don’t be surprised if that number increases before kickoff.

Washington State runs more of an Air-Raid offense, but former Badgers running back Nakia Watson had an impressive game in week one carrying the ball 18 times for 117 yards. Although, he did lose a fumble, one of three total turnovers by the Cougars against the Vandals.

The two most significant factors for the Cougar offense will be how they hold up against the pass rush of the Badgers (I don’t envision it going well – thoughts and prayers to the big fellas up front, they’re going to need it), and how QB Cam Ward plays.

Ward, who transferred from Incarnate Word (FCS), was one of the most prized quarterbacks in the transfer portal last year after throwing for 4,648 yards and 47 touchdowns, with only ten interceptions as a sophomore.

But his first game for the Cougars left much to be desired. Ward was all over the place throwing the ball, completing just 25 of 40 pass attempts for 215 yards (I almost choked on my white claw when I saw only 215 yards on FORTY pass attempts…yeah, I drink white claws. Sue me.) and three touchdowns.

The Badgers’ secondary looked shaky at some points in week one, but Ward will need to play the game of his life if the Cougars want a chance at winning this one.


Wisconsin Badgers

Nov 20, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) hands the football off to running back Braelon Allen (0) during the first quarter against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

As for the Wisconsin offense, the biggest x-factor of the game is the offensive line play.

The Cougars allowed 62 yards on 34 rushing attempts (1.8 YPC), had seven sacks, twelve tackles for loss, and two interceptions against Idaho in week one.

The talent level was nowhere near that of the Badger o-line (or Braelon Allen, who is a fucking monster), but impressive nonetheless.
All of the Badger o-lineman played at an elite level against the Redbirds in week one.

According to PFF, QB Graham Mertz wasn’t pressured all game, and Wisconsin posted a team total of 221 rushing yards on 37 carries (6.0 YPC).

It should be another great day for the offense if they can repeat that performance.


Best Bets

With a lot more action available on the betting market, here are my best bets for the week two showdown between the Wisconsin Badgers and Washington State Cougars.

  • Wisconsin -17 (-110)* – The Cougars will keep this one close for a little bit, but I’m going to lay the points here. The physicality of the Badgers will be too much for the Cougars to handle.
  • Under 49.5 (-110)* – 7 of the 13 games the Badgers played last year went under the total. Some of that was due to shaky QB play from Graham Mertz, but I’ll chalk most of it up to playing great defense and controlling the clock with the run game. I see the same happening on Saturday.
  • Under 17.5 2nd Half Total (+172)* – If the Badgers are winning the game at the half, I see  them trying to bleed the clock out as much as possible.
  • Defensive or Special Teams TD Scored (Wisconsin +221)** – This is my favorite bet of the week. There’s a great chance the defense will find its way back to the endzone this week. Especially if Cam Ward plays poorly, special teams touchdowns are the most random plays in all of football, so don’t bank on that. But it’s nice to have that as a backup if the defense can’t score.

*odds via mybookie.ag

**odds via DraftKings Sportsbook


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Sep 3, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) celebrates following a touchdown during the third quarter against the Illinois State Redbirds at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 3, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) celebrates following a touchdown during the third quarter against the Illinois State Redbirds at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Football Notebook: What we learned from the season opener

The No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers (1-0) kicked off the 2022 college football season on Saturday night with a 38-0 victory over the visiting Illinois State Redbirds at Camp Randall Stadium.

Although the game was against a lowly FCS opponent, there were still plenty of noteworthy takeaways. Even though nobody asked for my thoughts, you’re going to get them anyway.

Here are a few observations upon re-watching the Wisconsin Badgers 38-0 victory over Illinois State:


Notes on Wisconsin’s offense 

PISCATAWAY, NJ – NOVEMBER 06 : Head coach Paul Chryst of the Wisconsin Badgers talks with quarterback Graham Mertz (5) during a game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at SHI Stadium on November 6, 2021 in Piscataway, New Jersey. Wisconsin defeated Rutgers 52-3. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
  • Graham Mertz looked sharp all night, completing 14 of 16 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown. He looked poised in the pocket, went through his progressions, and threw the ball accurately. Most importantly, he didn’t make any bad decisions. Small sample size against a weak opponent, but I liked what I saw from Mertz in week one.
  • Despite having surgery less than two weeks ago, I thought left tackle Jack Nelson looked rock solid in his first start since moving from right guard, and the Pro Football Focus numbers reflect that. In 47 snaps, the Wisconsin native received a high-quality mark as a run blocker and an elite grade (86.6) in 20 snaps in pass protection. I think he’ll be a significant upgrade at the position this season.
  • Riley Nowakowski played more snaps (14) at fullback than Jackson Acker (10). It might be something, might be nothing, but It’s worth monitoring in week 2. Wisconsin football often plays two fullbacks, so it could have just been a matter of getting them both in-game experience. However, it could also signal that the UW staff views Nowakowski as a superior run-blocker.
  • Clay Cundiff (27 snaps) and Hayden Rucci (34 snaps) were each used extensively on offense, with Jack Eschenbach (13 snaps) clearly behind them on the depth chart. Cundiff will be used in an all-around role, while Rucci has the blocking tight end role in the bag. I’m excited to see how this TE room develops under OC Bobby Engram.
  • Wisconsin’s starting offensive line didn’t allow a single pressure in pass protection, so a tip of the cap to the hogs doing the dirty work that goes underappreciated.
  • Although Chez Mellusi’s stat line of 10 carries for 48 yards isn’t anything special, I thought he ran hard and had a little extra burst – especially for a player returning from a serious injury. He looks healthy and will undoubtedly play an essential role in the Badgers’ offense.

Notes on Wisconsin’s defense

MADISON, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 02: Wisconsin defensive coach Jim Leonhard looks on in the fourth quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Camp Randall Stadium on October 02, 2021 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
  • Wisconsin’s rebuilt secondary had a few moments, but overall, they didn’t look great, and I think that’s fair to say. UW played without its No. 1 cornerback Alexander Smith and Tulsa transfer Justin Clark – so the depth was a bit of an issue. However, given the competition, the secondary came out flat and gave up multiple chunk plays – which was a bit concerning, in my opinion. I thought junior CB Semar Melvin looked good in limited action. It’ll be interesting to see how they bounce back against Washington State on Saturday.
  • With Jim Leonhard as defensive coordinator, Wisconsin football has held opponents scoreless in 15 of 62 games (24%). Coach Leonhard is the best DC in the country, and it’s not even up for debate.
  • Safety Preston Zachman stood out in his 14 snaps on Saturday night. According to PFF, Zachman was the Badgers’ highest-graded defender (91.0), recording two tackles and an interception. With Wohler expected to miss a significant amount of time, the Badgers will get an extended look at the Pennsylvania native.

  • I’ll keep this one short and sweet; Keeanu Benton and Nick Herbig are SO league. The Badgers’ star defenders accounted for eight total pressures – four apiece and were UW’s two highest-graded pass-rushers. You’re watching a couple of All-Big Ten players; that much I know for sure.
  • Wisconsin football has a new starting inside linebacker tandem, and they flashed a little bit on Saturday night. I thought Maema Njongmeta played fast and had a nice game, registering eight tackles, and Jordan Turner got his feet wet and even recorded a sack. There will be an adjustment period, but the duo has a high ceiling due to their athleticism. It’s also worth noting that the top four inside backers all saw snaps.
  • Backup nose tackle Gio Paez played 15 snaps and flashed some playmaking ability. If he can become a consistent rotational player for the Badgers, that would go a long way.
  • Opposite Nick Herbig, I thought C.J. Goetz (31 snaps) and Darryl Peterson (22 snaps) were nearly invisible. On the other hand, Kaden Johnson looked pretty good, registering two tackles and a pressure in just 12 snaps. It’s just one game, and this group is talented, but you’d like to see them applying more pressure against an FCS opponent.
  • Utah transfer Kamo’I Latu looked really good in his 13 snaps. He plays with a full head of steam and will help fill Hunter Wohler’s void while he’s injured. I can’t wait to see him knock someone’s block off.

Notes on Wisconsin’s special teams

Sep 4, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers punter Andy Vujnovich (38) during the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
  • Giving Isaac Guerendo a chance as a kick returner was the right choice. He looked good and broke off an excellent 33-yard return in the second half. His speed makes him a threat to go the distance any time he touches the ball. My gut tells me he will take one to the house before the season ends.

  • Arkansas transfer Vito Calvaruso missed most of fall camp due to injury, but he connected on his lone field goal attempt from 28 yards out on Saturday. I’m intrigued to see Calvaruso show off his leg strength this season.
  • Cornerback Max Lofy looked good on special teams, appearing on kick returns, kick coverage, punt returns, and punt coverage. He also recorded a tackle on special teams. Sometimes you have to make the most of your opportunities, and that’s exactly what he did.

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Sep 7, 2013; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers helmets sit on the field during warmups prior to the game against the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin won 48-0. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Football: Week 2 Depth Chart + Injury Report For Game Vs. Washington State

Madison, Wis. — On Monday, Wisconsin football officially released its second two-deep depth chart and injury report ahead of its weekend match-up vs. the Washington State Cougars.

Here is a look at where things stand heading into Week 2:


Offensive two-deep

Sep 3, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) celebrates following a touchdown during the third quarter against the Illinois State Redbirds at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback

Starter: Graham Mertz (RS JR)

Backup: Myles Burkett (FR) OR Deacon Hill (RS FR)

Running Back

Starter: Braelon Allen (SO)

Backup: Chez Mellusi (SR)

Fullback

Starter: Jackson Acker (RS FR)

Backup: Riley Nowakowski (RS SO)

Wide Receiver 

Starter: Chimere Dike (JR)

Backup: Markus Allen (RS FR)

Wide Receiver 

Starter: Skyler Bell (RS FR)

Backup: Keontez Lewis (SO)

Tight End

Starter: Clay Cundiff (RS JR)

Backup: Hayden Rucci (RS JR)

Left Tackle

Starter: Jack Nelson (RS SO)

Backup: Nolan Rucci (RS FR)

Left Guard

Starter: Tyler Beach (RS SR)

Backup: Joe Brunner (FR)

Center

Starter: Joe Tippmann (RS JR)

Backup: Trey Wedig (RS SO)

Right Guard

Starter: Michael Furtney (RS SR)

Backup: Dylan Barrett (RS SO)

Right Tackle 

Starter: Riley Mahlman (RS FR)

Backup: Logan Brown (RS JR)


Defensive two-deep

MADISON, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 30: Keeanu Benton #95 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates after a fumble recovery during the first half against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Camp Randall Stadium on October 30, 2021 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Defensive End

Starter: Rodas Johnson (RS JR)

Backup: Cade McDonald (RS SO)

Nose Tackle

Starter: Keeanu Benton (SR)

Backup: Gio Paez (RS JR)

Defensive End 

Starter: Isaiah Mullens (RS SR)

Backup: James Thompson Jr. (RS SO)

Outside Linebacker

Starter: Nick Herbig (JR)

Backup: Kaden Johnson (RS SO)

Inside Linebacker 

Starter: Jordan Turner (RS SO)

Backup: Tatum Grass (RS JR)

Inside Linebacker

Starter: Maema Njongmeta (RS JR)

Backup: Jake Chaney (SO)

Outside Linebacker

Starter: C.J. Goetz (RS SR)

Backup: Darryl Peterson (RS FR)

Cornerback

Starter: Alexander Smith (RS SR)

Backup: Ricardo Hallman (RS FR)

Cornerback 

Starter: Jay Shaw (RS SR)

Backup: Semar Melvin (RS JR)

Nickel Corner

Starter: Cedrick Dort Jr. (RS SR)

Backup: Justin Clark (GR)

Strong Safety

Starter: John Torchio (RS SR)

Backup: Titus Toler (RS JR)

Free Safety 

Starter: Kamo’i Latu (RS JR) OR Preston Zachman (RS SO)


Special teams two-deep

Sep 4, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers punter Andy Vujnovich (38) during the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Punter

Starter: Andy Vujnovich (RS SR)

Backup: Gavin Meyers (RS SO)

Field Goals

Starter: Vito Calvaruso (JR)

Backup: Nate Van Zelst (RS FR)

Kickoff

Starter: Jack Van Dyke (JR)

Backup: Vito Calvaruso (JR)

Long-Snapper

Starter: Peter Bowden (RS JR)

Backup: Zach Zei (RS FR)

Holder

Starter: Gavin Meyers (RS SO)

Backup: Andy Vujnovich (RS SR)

Punt Return

Starter: Dean Engram (RS JR)

Backup: Chimere Dike (JR)

Kick Return

Starter: Isaac Guerendo (RS SR)

Backup: Keontez Lewis (SO)


Wisconsin Football Injury Report vs. Washington State

The No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers already have eight players ruled out due to injury for week two and three others listed as out for the season.

Players listed as Questionable:

  • N/A

Players listed as OUT:

  • OL Tanor Bortolini – Leg (Right)
  • WR Stephan Bracey – Leg (Right)
  • TE Cam Large – Leg (Right)
  • ILB Spencer Lytle – Leg (Left)
  • DE Isaac Townsend – Leg (Left)
  • OLB Aaron Witt – Leg (Right)
  • S Hunter Wohler – Leg (Left)
  • QB Chase Wolf – Leg (Right)

 Out for the season:

  • S Travian Blaylock – Leg (Right)
  • DE Mike Jarvis – Leg (Left)
  • ILB Luna Larson – Leg (Right)


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