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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