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)

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers: Studs and Duds

The Wisconsin Badgers narrowly escaped the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday afternoon. In a low-scoring defensive battle, the Badgers were able to come out on top due to a late touchdown drive.

While the victory wasn’t the prettiest, Wisconsin did just enough to keep the Freedom Trophy and become bowl eligible.

Here are the studs and duds from Saturday’s win:

Studs:

The Wisconsin Badgers’ rushing attack

The Badgers received some reinforcements after Chez Mellusi returned from injury. In his first game back in action, the senior back played a significant role in the run game.

Altogether, Wisconsin’s running backs logged 232 yards on the ground. Mellusi led the team in rushing yards with 98 after splitting reps with Braelon Allen. Allen also made a significant impact as he rushed for 92 yards. Additionally, Isaac Guerendo posted 42 yards on the ground. Guerendo also made a significant play as he hauled in a 27-yard catch with just over a minute left.

https://twitter.com/BigTenNetwork/status/1594059718879649792?s=20&t=TvbaVvuzE-4vLAGNXzZR5g

The Badgers’ tailbacks were the focal point of the offense on Saturday afternoon. The rushing attack came up big when Wisconsin needed a win, making the running back room one of the studs this week.

The Wisconsin Badgers pass rush/run stoppers

The Badgers needed a strong game from the big men up front, and they got it.

The Cornhuskers struggled to move the ball on the ground, with their quarterback, Casey Thompson, leading the team in rushing. The Badgers allowed just 65 rushing yards, effectively shutting down Nebraska’s run game.

The defensive line also came up big for Wisconsin as they sacked Thompson three times. Even with the loss of Nick Herbig due to an ejection, the Badgers’ pass rush was still able to get into the backfield and make plays.

The defense played well enough to keep the game within reach for the Badgers offense, landing the group as a stud for week 12.

Duds:

Wisconsin Badgers receivers

Although the Badgers running backs were significant contributors in this game, that can’t be said for the wide receivers.

Graham Mertz passed for just 83 yards against the Cornhuskers, but the receivers struggled with drops. One of Mertz’s favorite targets, Chimere Dike, was targeted three times but couldn’t haul in a completion. Dike also had two drops on the day, but he was not the only one, as Keontez Lewis also had a dropped pass.

The Badgers’ receivers struggled to haul in Mertz’s passes this week. Wisconsin was able to come away with a win despite the drops, but the receivers will end up as a dud this week.

Wisconsin’s discipline

The Badgers did come out with the win, but mistakes began to mount as they fell behind.

Wisconsin finished the game with five penalties. The most significant penalty was a targeting call on Nick Herbig, which he was ejected for. That penalty will roll over into next Saturday’s matchup against Minnesota, where he will be held out of the first half of the game. Additionally, Herbig was flagged for running onto the field without a helmet after a touchdown reception from Skyler Bell.

Another crucial mistake came on a play where fullback Jackson Acker committed a false start at the one-yard line. The Badgers were able to connect on the field goal, but the penalty potentially cost them six points.

Wisconsin has been a relatively clean team for most of the season when it comes to penalties, but the poor discipline lands as a dud this week.


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 news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Jake Maier on Twitter. @JakeJMaier.

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

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.


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 news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Jake Maier on Twitter. @JakeJMaier.

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

*Chat about this article over at Badgers After Dark