Aug 31, 2013; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers helmets sit on the field during warmups prior to the game against the Massachusetts Minutemen at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin won 45-0. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Football: Week 6 Depth Chart + Injury Report For Game Vs. Northwestern

Madison, Wis. — Wisconsin football official released its two-deep depth chart and injury report ahead of its sixth game vs. the Northwestern Wildcats.

Here is a look at where things stand heading into Week 6:


Offensive Two-Deep

MADISON, WISCONSIN – SEPTEMBER 17: Braelon Allen #0 of the Wisconsin Badgers scores on a 39-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against the New Mexico State Aggies at Camp Randall Stadium on September 17, 2022 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

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: Hayden Rucci (RS JR)

Backup: Jack Eschenbach (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 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)

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)

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. Ohio State

Players listed as Questionable:

  • N/A

Players listed as OUT:

  • CB Al Ashford – Leg (Left)
  • K Vito Calvaruso – Leg (Right)
  • TE Cam Large – 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)
  • TE Clay Cundiff – Leg (Left)
  • DE Mike Jarvis – Leg (Left)
  • ILB Luna Larson – Leg (Right)
  • DE Isaac Townsend – Leg (Left)


Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin football news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Alex Fletcher on Twitter @AlexFletcher920

Join the Badger Notes watch party and stream Wisconsin games for FREE by clicking this link.

*Chat about this article over at Badgers After Dark

*Subscribe and listen to the BadgerNotes.com podcast (as seen on Apple, Google, Spotify, and wherever you listen to podcasts).

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)

Badger Profile: Wisconsin Football Interim Coach Jim Leonhard

On the evening of October second, the Wisconsin Badgers moved on from head coach Paul Chryst.  The breaking news brought immediate shock, as well as mixed reactions.  Both from the fan base, and from inside the program.

Regardless of how anyone feels about it, the move has been made.  It’s time to move on.  Wisconsin Football still has plenty of season to play, and the change in scenery may spark some more life in to this Badgers program and fan base.  In an effort to push along this effort, lets get to know the new man in charge, Jim Leonhard.


Leonhard is Wisconsin down to his beginning.  The new Badgers head coach was born in Ladysmith, Wisconsin.  He attended Flambeau High School in Tony, Wisconsin and played quarterback and safety for his high school football team.  He continued his safety career during his secondary education at the University of Wisconsin, starting many years for the Badgers at safety after walking on the team.

 

Leonard would go on to set the single season interception record with 11 interceptions, and tie the all-time school record with 21 interceptions.  Additionally, the former defensive coordinator turned interim head coach would claim three first-team all Big Ten honors and three all American honors as well.

 

Despite the impressive collegiate accolades, the Wisconsin native would not hear his name called in the 2005 NFL draft.  Instead, Leonard would have to sign and fight his way on to a roster.  He did so over a 10 year span, for six different teams.  Leonhard retired in 2014.


Leonhard would take a year off from the game before receiving a call from Paul Chryst.  The former all-American would accept the defensive backs coaching position in 2016.  He wasted no time climbing the ranks, taking over as defensive coordinator one year later in 2017.  A Broyles Award finalist in that first year, Leonhard has proven his value to the coaching staff from the very beginning.

 

Wisconsin Football has had a dominant defensive underneath the current defensive leadership.  Over Leonhard’s five years, the team has achieved top five in total defense and top 10 in scoring defense on four separate occasions.  Numerous NFL draft picks have come the Badgers defense, including five in the most recent NFL draft.  Personally, my favorite stat of a Leonhard defense was back in the 13-win season, when the Badgers allowed only 18 touchdowns in 14 games.


Surely there will be some ups and downs.  Mixed opinions are to be expected.  However, there should be no denying Leonhard’s connection to the school’s program and state.  The Wisconsin native has openly expressed his devotion to the program, with his words and actions, after staying with the program amid NFL jobs knocking at his door.  Excitement is in the cool, Wisconsin fall air with Jim Leonhard at the helm.


Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin football news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Alex Fletcher on Twitter @AlexFletcher920

Join the Badger Notes watch party and stream Wisconsin Badgers Football games by clicking this link.

*Chat about this article over at Badgers After Dark

*Subscribe and listen to the BadgerNotes.com podcast (as seen on Apple, Google, Spotify, and wherever you listen to podcasts).

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)

Report: Paul Chryst Out As Wisconsin Football Head Coach

Report: Paul Chryst is out as Wisconsin Football head coach.

After Saturday’s loss to Illinois, Wisconsin Football head coach Paul Chryst was undoubtably moved to the hot seat.  Very hot seat.  This saga has now officially come to an end.  The Wisconsin Badgers fired their head coach Paul Chryst, first reported by Senior Writer Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.

While always shocking, this move has been making waves around the internet as of late.  This year has not gone as expected, and even the blowout loss to Ohio State had people calling for a change.  One embarrassing loss later, and Wisconsin Football leadership agreed.

Chryst made it to his eighth season with the Badgers, going 67-26 during that span.  From 2015-17, Chryst went 10-3, 11-3 and 13-1, which was the best record Chryst would achieve at the program.  Three, four and five loss seasons littered the remaining years under Chryst.  Notable accomplishments include being the third coach in modern Big Ten history to have 50 wins in his first five seasons, and having top ten scoring and total defenses in six of the seven years Chryst was at Wisconsin.

Despite the successes, this is the right move for where the program currently sits.  The team is stale, and lacks creativity.  This has been emphasized this year, enduring a 2-3 record thus far, which includes an 0-2 Big Ten record, and being dead last in the Big Ten West rankings.  Not ideal for a program that, while not on the elite levels of Ohio State, still expected good seasons.  It is time to move on.

In doing so, defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard will assume interim coaching duties.  This is also the right call.  Leonhard has done a wonderful job with the Badgers’ defense.  So much so, he had the NFL knocking at his door, including the Green Bay Packers.  Leonhard decided to stay, and now we get to see what he can accomplish the rest of the way as the head guy.  Based on where the team currently sits, it would be hard to imagine it can get much worse, and the only direction Wisconsin Football can go from here is up.


Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin football news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Alex Fletcher on Twitter @AlexFletcher920

Join the Badger Notes watch party and stream Wisconsin Badgers Football games by clicking this link.

*Chat about this article over at Badgers After Dark

*Subscribe and listen to the BadgerNotes.com podcast (as seen on Apple, Google, Spotify, and wherever you listen to podcasts).

Oct 1, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; The Wisconsin Badgers line up for a play during the first quarter against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois blows out the Wisconsin Badgers 34-10 at Camp Randall

A big day from quarterback Tommy Devito and running back Chase Brown gave the Illinois Fighting Illini a blowout 34-10 victory over the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison on Saturday. Devito rushed for a career-high three touchdowns, while Brown posted one of his own.

Persistent Struggling on Offense…

With one of the best running backs in the country in Braelon Allen, the Badgers did not use him much at all in Saturday’s game. Allen only carried the ball eight times, his lowest amount of carries this season. It wasn’t just Allen not touching the ball, though, as the rest of the running back corps carried the ball a combined nine times for 22 yards. Chez Mellusi lead the rest of the backs with seven carries, also leading the team in rushing yards with a mere 16.

Graham Mertz took over as the primary weapon on offense, going 17-for-32 with 206 yards and a first-quarter touchdown pass to running back Isaac Guerendo, one of two receptions for Guerendo on the afternoon.

The Badgers’ offense posted only 208 total yards of offense on Saturday, a new season low following last week’s loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes.


…and Defense

Normally a powerhouse defense headed by defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard, the Badgers struggled to keep the Fighting Illini out of the end zone. This is partially due to the four rushing touchdowns given up to Illinois quarterback Tommy Devito and running back Chase Brown.

Four rushing touchdowns is the most allowed by the Badgers’ defense this season. The Fighting Illini also rushed for 137 yards, the second highest mark allowed by Wisconsin’s defense this season. Wisconsin also allowed 19 first downs on Saturday, the highest allowed by the team this year, as well as nearly 34 minutes of possession for Illinois compared to the Badgers’ 26 minutes of possession.


What’s Next?

Following Saturday’s loss, the Badgers travel to face the Northwestern Wildcats, Wisconsin’s third different opponent from Illinois this season. The Wildcats enter the game with a 1-4 record this season along with one of the lowest scoring offenses in college football. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. CST and will air on Big Ten Network.


Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin Badgers news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Sam Strash on Twitter @strash_sam.

Join the Badger Notes watch party and stream Wisconsin Badgers games by clicking this link.

*Chat about this article over at Badgers After Dark

*Subscribe and listen to the BadgerNotes.com podcast (as seen on Apple, Google, Spotify, and wherever you listen to podcasts).

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)

BadgerNotes Staff Predictions: Wisconsin Badgers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini

BadgerNotes Staff Predictions: Wisconsin Badgers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini

Madison, Wis. – Head coach Paul Chryst and the Wisconsin Badgers (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten) return home on Saturday to host Bret Bielema and the Illinois Fighting Illini (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten) at Camp Randall Stadium.

Wisconsin is coming off an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Ohio State Buckeyes, losing 52-21 on the road in a game that was over before it even started.

Brett Bielema and company, on the other hand, won 31-0 last week over the Chatanooga Mocs and are beginning to take a noticeable step forward in his second season leading the program.

Here is how our BadgerNotes team sees Saturday’s matchup playing out on the field:


Dillon Graff: Managing Editor

Final Score Prediction: Wisconsin 31, Illinois 20

Head coach Paul Chryst and the Wisconsin Badgers (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten) return home on Saturday to host the Illinois Fighting Illini (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten) at Camp Randall Stadium.

UW, coming off an embarrassing 52-21 defeat at the hands of the Ohio State Buckeyes, enters the Karma Cup as seven-point favorites over Bret Bielema and the Illini.

Although Illinois is trending in the right direction in Bielema’s second season at the helm, this is a game that Wisconsin needs to dominate.

I still expect the Badgers to win the Big Ten West, but ill admit, I’ll feel much better after if Wisconsin wins this game handily – because, in my opinion, they should.

This weekend’s game against Wisconsin is coach Bielema’s Superbowl. Plain and simple. Expect the Illini to pull out all the stops in an effort to steal one on the road.

That said, I think Wisconsin will be in a close game through three quarters before taking control in the fourth and covering the spread.


Brandon Cooper: Staff Writer

Final score prediction: Wisconsin 21, Illinois 17

This game has Big Ten football written all over it. Two teams that can run the ball well on offense and are stout against the run on defense.

Both passing offenses aren’t great, although Illinois leads the nation in pass efficiency defense, so it might be tough sledding for the Wisconsin passing attack.

Like most Big Ten matchups, the game will come down to who can control the time of possession and win the turnover battle.

I think the Badgers make a few more stops defensively than the Fighting Illini do in the second half to come out the win.

With both teams being so evenly matched it should be a great game to watch. An ugly game, but a great game.


Alex Fletcher: Staff Writer

Final Score Prediction: Wisconsin 28, Illinois 14

Most Wisconsin Football fans are probably aware that the response to the beatdown the Badgers endured last week was not good. Many fans were unhappy with how things turned out, with some parts of the internet calling for a change in leadership. While I don’t necessarily share that opinion, the result was a bit of a shock, nonetheless.

With that being said, I believe this plays a role in the overall feel and motivation for this game. Wisconsin needs to bounce back and show, while not on the same level as Ohio State (not many are), they are a top-tier Big Ten team. The perfect way to do that is against a fellow Big Ten West team.

Emotions go both ways in this one, however. Former Badger head coach Bret Bielema is making his first return to Madison since stepping down in 2012. Couple that with running back Chase Brown averaging just north of 150 rushing yards per game, and I don’t expect this team to just roll over.

As of this writing, the number currently sits with Wisconsin being a seven-point favorite, and I think that is an appropriate opening line. However, I also think the Badgers use last week as motivation and cover that number. Look for both the offense and defense to get back on track.


Jake Maier: Staff Writer

Final Score Prediction: Wisconsin 31, Illinois 24

The Badgers were embarrassed in Columbus last weekend and now face their former head coach Bret Bielema in Madison.

Illinois has looked like a well put together team this year. The Illini defense has allowed just eight points per game, putting them in the top 5 of the least points allowed per game. However, the competition Illinois has faced is relatively weak.

I expect the Badgers to have a big rebound game following a blowout loss, and I believe Mertz will regain his confidence and look much better on offense. This game will come down to defense, and the Badgers have the edge in talent on that end. I have Wisconsin winning this one 31-24 and getting back to above .500.


Sam Strash: Staff Writer

Final Score Prediction: Wisconsin 20, Illinois 17

We haven’t seen Wisconsin struggle that much at Camp Randall Stadium in the past, but this year feels a little different.

Washington State gave the Badgers their first loss of the year at home, and I think Illinois stands a good chance to win in Madison, too.

They possess one of the best defenses in the country, but they’ve also played a very weak out-of-conference schedule. Their lone conference game this year was a loss to Indiana, and in this conference game, it’ll be the Badgers coming out on top with a narrow victory.


Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin Badgers news, notes, opinion, and analysis. 

Join the Badger Notes watch party and stream Wisconsin Badgers games by clicking this link.

*Chat about this article over at Badgers After Dark

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.


 

Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin Badgers news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Sam Strash on Twitter @strash_sam.

Join the Badger Notes watch party and stream Wisconsin games for FREE by clicking this link.

*Chat about this article over at Badgers After Dark

*Subscribe and listen to the BadgerNotes.com podcast (as seen on Apple, Google, Spotify, and wherever you listen to podcasts).

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 Badgers Defeat New Mexico State Aggies 66-7 by Offensive Onslaught

An explosive game on offense led by quarterback Graham Mertz and running backs Braelon Allen and Isaac Guerendo gave the Wisconsin Badgers a dominating 66-7 win over the New Mexico State Aggies on Saturday in Madison. The team posted 595 yards of total offense in the game, scoring every quarter.

Mertz Shows Prowess in the Pocket

Graham Mertz only threw 15 passes on Saturday.

That was all he needed to give his team the victory.

Mertz finished the afternoon with 12 completed passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns, only being sacked once. He posted a 273.23 passer rating (approximately 130 in NFL terms) and averaged 20.9 yards per completion. Two of his touchdowns found the hands of redshirt freshman receiver Skyler Bell, including a 49-yard touchdown five minutes into the third quarter. This touchdown is Bell’s first of his collegiate career.

Big Game Braelon

It wasn’t just the passing game that showed up to play Saturday.

Braelon Allen came, too.

Allen broke loose within the first two minutes of the game, taking the ball for a 39-yard touchdown following a great kickoff return by running back Isaac Guerendo. The sophomore from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin finished the game with three touchdowns total to go along with 86 rushing yards. Allen has eight rushing touchdowns through three games this season, nearing his season total from last year (12).

But, it wasn’t just Braelon Allen controlling the ground game on Saturday. He brought his entire running back room with him.

Speaking of Isaac Guerendo, the Badgers’ backup running back posted two rushing touchdowns of his own. He found the end zone late in the third quarter on a three-yard carry, as well as the early fourth quarter with a 30-yard carry. Other backup running back Chez Mellusi took one to the house as well with a two-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter. Junior running back Julius Davis got some action on the field, too, rushing for 45 yards on nine carries, including a 33-yard run.

What’s Next

Following Saturday’s game, the Badgers travel to Columbus, Ohio for their first conference matchup against the Ohio State Buckeyes. The game starts at 6:30 p.m. CST and will air on ABC.


 

Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin Badgers’ news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Sam Strash on Twitter @strash_sam.

Join the Badger Notes watch party and stream Wisconsin games for FREE by clicking this link.

*Chat about this article over at Badgers After Dark

*Subscribe and listen to the BadgerNotes.com podcast (as seen on Apple, Google, Spotify, and wherever you listen to podcasts).

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

Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin Football news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Dillon Graff on Twitter @DillonGraff.

Join the Badger Notes watch party and stream Wisconsin games for FREE by clicking this link.

*Chat about this article over at Badgers After Dark

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.


Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin football news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Alex Fletcher on Twitter @AlexFletcher920

Join the Badger Notes watch party and stream Wisconsin games for FREE by clicking this link.

*Chat about this article over at Badgers After Dark

*Subscribe and listen to the BadgerNotes.com podcast (as seen on Apple, Google, Spotify, and wherever you listen to podcasts).

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).

Join the Badger Notes watch party and stream Wisconsin games for FREE by following this link.


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


You can follow me on Twitter @FrznPizzaCooper
There you’ll find jokes, plenty of music takes, offensive line talk (especially anything Larry Allen related), Larry Bird highlights (I got a thing for Larry’s what can I say), and of course my work for badgernotes.com.

Gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER. Always bet responsibly.

Badgers Country. Let’s ride.