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

Report Card: Wisconsin Football Week 7 Loss to Michigan State

Wisconsin Football lost a heartbreaker to Michigan State this past Saturday, losing 28 to 34.

The Badgers just had a bounce back game against Northwestern for Jim Leonhard’s first win as the interim head coach.  That win would be short lived with another bad loss.

The Spartans came in with an abysmal record, only to have Bucky improve it.

The Wisconsin Badgers now own a 3-4 record, and a 1-3 conference record.

Offense: B

The team as a whole looked normal.

The passing game was stagnant.  Quarterback Graham Mertz looked average, throwing 14 for 24 with 131 yards passing and two touchdowns.  He also turned the ball over once via the air.  This gave him a 36.1 QBR for the game, and six picks for the year.

Braelon Allen and the running game looked up to par, although Allen was the only one producing.  He ran for 123 yards over 29 times for two touchdowns.  One of those came from 34 yards out.

Despite a mediocre passing game, the receiving core looked alright.  Chimere Dike caught four balls for 45 yards and a touchdown.  However, only five Badgers caught a pass in this game.  Tough stat to think about when only 14 passes were completed.

The kicker here is the turnovers.  Allen fumbled, and Mertz threw the pick for a total of two.  Mertz also fumbled the ball, but was recovered by the Badgers.

Defense: D

The Badgers were rolling with the previous week’s performance on defense.  Bucky let up only seven points, and Jim Leonhard’s team was proving the team could function with him at head coach.

Turns out, not the case.

Michigan State didn’t blow the doors off anybody, but they were efficient.  Especially in crunch time.

Former Badger running back Jalen Berger hit pay dirt and totaled 59 yards in the game.  He didn’t have a great average, but the points always count.

The biggest threat the Badgers had was Jayden Reed.  He is a legit NFL prospect and showed it against Bucky.  Reed caught 9 passes for 117 yards and a score.

This comes on the feet of Payton Thorne’s day.  While the quarterback didn’t wow, he went 21 for 28, throwing for 265 yards and two scores.  He did not turn the ball over either.  A winning formula.

Coaching: D

This game was all about keeping the momentum rolling, and the Badgers did a fantastic job of letting that go to waste.

The offense had a little momentum, for a little amount of time.  The running game looked back to normal.  And so did the passing game, sadly.

The defense was fine for a minute.  But the one-on-one stuff was brutal.  Reed torched the defense all day, and the culmination was a one-on-one defeat to end the 2OT match.

Poetic justice.

Overall: C-

Wisconsin Football looked good in their best asset, the running game.

The team also produced in the passing game, despite regression.

This defense, however, looked bad.  Jim Leonhard needs a hard look at what is going on.

Last week it was reported Leonhard would allow someone else to control the defensive play calling duties.  The team found out quickly, that isn’t working.

No one expected greatness from this team after the coaching turnover, but a bowl game would be nice.  That is not guaranteed at this point.

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