Sep 21, 2019; Madison, WI, USA; A Wisconsin Badgers helmet sits on the sidelines during the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Badgers Football: PFF grades from week 5 loss to Illinois

Wisconsin Badgers Football: PFF grades from week 5 loss to Illinois

Madison, Wis. – Head coach Paul Chryst and the Wisconsin Badgers (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten), in desperate need of righting the ship, were blown out by Bret Bielema and the Illinois Fighting Illini 34-10 at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday. 

The Karma Cup was anything but a competition on Saturday because, after the opening drive where Wisconsin marched down the field and went up 7-0, the Fighting Illini thoroughly dominated the Badgers in front of more than 70,000 fans.

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)

The offense hit a new low against Illinois, mustered up a mere 208 total yards (206 passing, 2 rushing) – which is the Badgers’ worst showing of the season and UW’s lowest offensive output since 2016.

When you supposedly have one of the most talented offensive lines in the country, a two-yard rushing performance feels even more embarrassing than it already is. UW was dominated in the trenches by the Illini and didn’t fair any better in pass protection, allowing five sacks and seven pressures.

It’s hard to point to something that went right offensively, and it begs the question, how does Wisconsin right the ship?

Here’s a look at the five highest-graded offensive players from Wisconsin’s loss to Illinois, according to Pro Football Focus:

  •  QB Graham Mertz (79.1) Good
  • RB Isaac Guerendo (72.9) Above Avg.
  • WR Chimere Dike (70.4) Above Avg.
  • WR Keontez Lewis (63.7) Average
  • LT Jack Nelson (63.4) Average

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)

Under Jim Leonhard, Wisconsin’s defense has been the program’s lifeblood. No matter what they were up against, UW had one of the best defensive units in college football to keep them in the game.

After losing eight starters off last season’s top-ranked defensive unit, I can confidently tell you that’s no longer the case.

Wisconsin’s defense allowed an efficient 307 yards of offense to the Illini (167 passing, 137 rushing). It failed to make life difficult for opposing quarterback Tommy Devito and the nations leading rusher, Chase Brown.

This defense continues to be undisciplined, struggles with tackling, and can’t seem to create pressure – it’s a problem.

UW registered only four pressures all day long, all of which came from Herbig and Benton, who had two apiece. They need help. Period.

It’s hard to take away many positives from this one.

Here’s a look at the five highest-graded defensive players from Wisconsin’s loss to Illinois, according to Pro Football Focus:

  • DE James Thompson Jr. (76.3) Good
  • OLB C.J. Goetz (75.1) Good
  • OLB Darryl Peterson (74.7) Good
  • OLB Nick Herbig (72.8) Above Average
  • S Kamo’i Latu (71.2) Above Average

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