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)

Wisconsin Football: Report Card for Week 5 loss vs. Illinois

Wisconsin Football: Report Card for Week 5 loss vs. Illinois

Wisconsin football suffered a horrific defeat on Saturday, falling 34-10 to the Illinois Fighting Illini on Saturday.

This one stings quite a bit and should leave many fans of the program physically ill.  To lose like this to the Buckeyes is one thing, but against a fellow Big Ten West team, a team Wisconsin should’ve used as a bounce-back game, is rotten.

Credit should be given to Bret Bielema and Illinois, however.  They came into Camp Randall Stadium and handled business across the board.  Bielema’s first return to Madison since 2012 was an extreme success for the Illini and leave the Badgers in one of the worst spots the program has been in, in years.

This loss leaves the Badgers with an 0-2 record in conference play, and 2-3 overall.  That’s good enough for dead last in the Big Ten West standings.

Grading out the Badger Football team shouldn’t be too tough, as not many positives came out of this game, or many of the recent ones.  Below is the report card for week 5.


Offense: F

The opening drive to this game was not an accurate reflection of how this game would turn out in any way, shape, or form.  Quarterback Graham Mertz took the offense down the field and connected with running back Isaac Guerendo with a beautiful pass for the touchdown.  All is well so far.

Things would then take a turn for the worst.  The offense would total 208 yards for the game, which includes the stellar opening drive.  Even more upsetting, the Badgers rushing offense would total just 2 (!) yards.  No one in the backfield would have more than 8 rushing attempts, with Braelon Allen leading the way.  He would only have 2 yards gained by himself, however.

The rushing attack is usually a strength for the program, and a good amount of credit is usually given to the offensive line.  Against Illinois, however, they looked very different, and did not play a complete or effective game.

With the line not playing up to standards, and the rushing attack stalled, it was only a matter of time for the passing attack to slow down.  Exactly that happened, with Mertz finishing the day with a total QBR of 30.4, completing 17-of-31 throws for 206 yards, the lone touchdown on the opening drive, and 2 interceptions.

The receiving core may have been the only spot to smile at, but even they can’t take away the sting.  Wide receiver Chimere Dike and tight end Jack Eschenback would both haul in 5 passes, with Dike leading the charge with 76 receiving yards.

The cherry on top of this abysmal grade goes along with the backfield, again.  It’s hard to imagine things could get worse when they totaled two yards with a backfield led by Braelon Allen, one of the top backs in the country coming in to the season, but it does.  Running Back Isaac Guerendo added to the turnover count, fumbling, and losing, the ball.


Defense: F

The Wisconsin Badger defense, led by Jim Leonhard, was not any better for the overall grade of the team.  While having three turnovers on offense won’t do the defense any favors, this unit still underperformed on a massive scale.

Illinois quarterback Tommy DeVito had a nice day, finishing with a QBR of 86.6.  This came from a day where DeVito went 18-of-24 with 167 yards and three rushing touchdowns.  No passing touchdowns came with this, but neither did any interceptions.

The Illini rushing attack also had a nice day, with running back Chase Brown doing the most damage.  Brown would carry the ball 25 times for 129 yards and a touchdown.

Wisconsin’s defense was not able to force any turnovers on the day either.  Hard to come out with a win losing the turnover battle 3-0.


Coaching: F

The matchup came with emotions on both sides of the field.  Bret Bielema was coming back to Madison for the first time since his departure, and Wisconsin was coming off an embarrassing loss to the Buckeyes the week prior.  Both were motivated to come into this matchup and perform.  Bielema just so happened to be the winner here and did so in convincing fashion.

Coach Paul Chryst was outperformed in every aspect of the game.  His players were undisciplined, unmotivated, and seriously lacked any creativity or drive.  This game was a sure-fire stamp that his seat should be hot.  The Badgers program looks bad, and the outlook can only be described as stale, at best.  The boos in Camp Randall Stadium should’ve made that loud and clear.


Overall: F

There is nothing positive to come out of this game.  Everything was bad.  Something needs to change.


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