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)


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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.


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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 30: Quarterback Graham Mertz #5 of the Wisconsin Badgers looks on during a time out 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)

Wisconsin Badgers Football: Initial reactions to week 5 loss against Illinois

My thoughts, and prayers, on the Wisconsin Badgers Week 5 performance

It’s been over 24 hours since the Wisconsin Badgers took a 34-10 loss at the hands of the Illinois Fighting Illini and the feeling of disappointment and embarrassment won’t flee me.

Illinois came into Camp Randall and showed the Badgers how to play Wisconsin Football.

In my 29 years of life I have never seen a Wisconsin offensive line dominated the way they were on Saturday. Evidence by the team totaling only TWO rushing yards.

Graham Mertz looked incredible in the first quarter, throwing for 98 yards and a touchdown. A few untimely interceptions and TERRIBLE decisions cost him, and the team dearly after that.

The score at halftime was 14-10 in favor of Illinois. This was the perfect moment for the Badger to define their season and they failed.

Paul Chryst on the hot seat?

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)

The Badgers coaching staff made ZERO halftime adjustments, and weren’t able to lead the team to score a single point in the second half.

Paul Chryst apparently lead an expletive-laced rant directed towards the team at halftime, but it clearly had zero impact.

The Badgers came out looking flat and uninspired. Complete opposite to their foes an the other side of the field, who acted like this was the biggest game of their lives.

The Badgers were undisciplined, physically overmatched, and out coached against the Illini.

Paul Chryst has had great success during his tenure at Wisconsin, but I think every Badger fan is fair in asking if a coaching change is needed.

The program has been on the down-slide the past two-three years. And all signs point to it getting worse.

It seems Chryst may have lost the locker room, with the lack of fire and focus the Badgers are playing with this season.

Chryst’s coaching seat is luke warm at the moment. Knowing Wisconsin’s patience with head coaches, regardless the sport.

But with a few more losses this year and it will red red hot.

Continue reading

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.


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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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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)

Wisconsin Badgers: Studs and Duds vs. Illinois

The Wisconsin Badgers (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten) fell to the Illinois Fighting Illini (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten) 34-10 on Saturday afternoon.

The Badgers looked disjointed all around. Now 0-2 in conference play, Wisconsin is on a backslide.

Here are the studs and duds from Saturday’s loss.

Stud(s):

The Wisconsin Badgers offense (on the first drive)

After being blown out by Ohio State, the Wisconsin Badgers needed to come out swinging on Saturday, and they did just that. While the rest of the game didn’t pan out, the first drive was great for the Badger offense.

Senior running back Isaac Guerendo had a solid opening kickoff return that gave Wisconsin excellent field position. Graham Mertz quickly stepped up, completing all four of his passes for 54 yards on the first drive. The drive was capped off with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Mertz to Guerendo, putting the Badgers up 7-0 in just under a minute.

Quickly after the first drive, UW’s offense began to crash and burn. Wisconsin would only put up three more points in the next 59 minutes.

While there were very few positives to take away from this game, the Badger’s first drive was well put together and looked like something the Badgers could build off of. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Duds

The Wisconsin Badgers run game

Wisconsin is a program built on establishing the run, and they failed to do that on Saturday.

The Badgers running back duo of Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi put up an unbelievably poor performance.

Allen, the Badger’s RB1, put up a stat line of eight carries for two yards. That’s right, two yards, an average of 0.3 yards per attempt. The 18-year-old back was unable to break through the formidable Illini defensive line.

Mellusi was the leading rusher in this game, but his stat line was nothing to rave about. With seven rushing attempts, the Clemson transfer gained only 16 yards on the ground. The Badgers running backs simply had no answers, but it wasn’t entirely on them.

The Illinois defensive line completely outplayed Wisconsin’s offensive front. The offensive line allowed six sacks in this matchup and struggled to give the running backs a hole to run through.

The Illini defense deserves a lot of credit in this one, and the Badgers offense needs a long look in the mirror after a disastrous performance.

Defense

To be fair to the defense, they were put in difficult situations due to the shortcomings of the Badger’s offense. However, the defense could not get out of their own way either.

The secondary was the most concerning group in this one. The Fighting Illini quarterback, Tommy DeVito, threw for 167 yards on 18 completions. While the secondary didn’t allow a touchdown through the air, they made several mistakes that allowed Illinois to keep their foot on the gas. Cornerback Jay Shaw was flagged twice for pass interference, including on fourth down at the one-yard line. That penalty allowed the Illini to score on the very next play. While the call was questionable, it was enough for the official to call it and give Illinois seven points shortly after.

One other group that raised some concern was the Badger’s pass rush. Wisconsin failed to get any pressure on the quarterback, an ongoing theme for the defense. While Keeanu Benton had a great game, he was really the only Badger creating any sort of panic in the backfield. UW will need to find some answers on the defensive front and start to get in the backfield once again.

Wisconsin has matchups against some strong offenses coming up. If the defense can’t get out of their own way, it will be a long season for Jim Leonhard and company.

Paul Chryst

Chryst looked completely disinterested on Saturday. It seemed that every time the camera panned to Chryst, he had his arms crossed or on his hips with a blank expression.

The game plan was one of the most questionable of the year. By that, I mean there was hardly any game plan to be found. It was hard to imagine the Badgers coach stooping any lower after the Washington State and Ohio State losses, but it seems that the Badgers have hit a new low.

Wisconsin played boring and disinterested football. The Badgers were dominated in the time of possession, in the trenches, and on the ground. There were virtually no positives to take away from the matchup, and that starts with the coaching.

As I said earlier, Wisconsin is backsliding. Chryst needs to figure it out now, or UW will need to do some soul searching and really think about the direction of this football program.

Injury luck

While this is completely out of Wisconsin’s control, the injuries were the cherry on top of the disastrous game.

The Badgers, already stretched thin at tight end with the injury to Clay Cundiff, couldn’t afford to lose another tight end. Disaster struck when Hayden Rucci suffered an injury in the second quarter. Now without their top two tight ends, the Badgers will be shorthanded moving forward.

The injuries didn’t stop there, as Guerendo and Keontez Lewis also suffered injuries. Both players seemed to be in a lot of pain when they suffered their injuries, but no updates have been made available yet.

The Badgers now face a challenge with injuries to three offensive weapons. One thing to keep an eye on going forward is how the Badgers will adapt to these injuries.

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.

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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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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.


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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)

Game Breakdown and Best Bets: Week 5 Wisconsin Badgers vs. Illinois

Game Breakdown and Best Bets: Week 5 Wisconsin vs. Illinois

It was an embarrassing performance for myself and the Wisconsin Badgers last week against the No. 3 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. The Badgers got trounced 52-21, and it wasn’t even that close.

I had another 0-4 week, bringing my yearly record to 2-10. I can’t catch a break with any of my bets and honestly have been flat-out wrong about how talented I thought this Wisconsin Badgers team was. 

But I will hold my head high and make four more picks this week that probably won’t hit, sending me into a spiraling depression.

This week the Wisconsin Badgers (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten) will return home to Camp Randall Stadium to take on the Illinois Fighting Illini (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten). Kickoff is at 11 am (CST) on Big Ten Network.

To find all of our content for this week’s game, visit badgernotes.com.


Game Breakdown

Illinois Fighting Illini

Saturday marks Bret Bielema’s first time returning to Camp Randall since he left the program 10 years ago to go and get his ass kicked in the SEC for five seasons.

Credit where credit is due, though. Bielema has the Illini trending up, and a victory against the Badgers would only add to that.

Illinois has deployed a balanced attack on offense this season, attempting 136 passes and rushing the ball 176 times.

Quarterback Tommy Devito has been excellent this season, completing over 68% of his passes for 951 yards, nine touchdowns, and only two interceptions – good for a 151.2 passer rating, putting Devito in the top 50 in the nation.

Isaiah Williams and Pat Bryant have been Devito’s favorite targets through the season’s first four games. The duo has combined for 42 receptions, 522 yards, and four touchdowns.

It won’t be the same challenge for the Badgers’ defense as last week against Ohio State’s elite receiving corps, but it will still be a tall task for a banged-up and struggling Wisconsin secondary.

The fighting Illini’s passing game is solid, but the star of the offense is undoubtedly junior runningback Chase Brown.

Brown leads the nation in rushing, collecting 604 yards on 95 attempts through four contests. However, he has only scored four total touchdowns this season. Regardless, Illinois will certainly look to get Brown going early and try to wear down Wisconsin’s defensive line.

Illinois’ Solid Defense

The Fighting Illini have been nothing short of excellent on defense this season. They rank No. 5 in the nation in yards allowed per game (234.5) and points allowed per game (8). While also leading the country in pass efficiency defense, per ESPN.

Defensive linemen Jer’Zhan Newton and Keith Randolph Jr. will be the biggest x-factors for Illini this week. The dynamic duo has been wreaking havoc on opposing offenses this year, combining for 42 total tackles, five sacks, and one interception this season.

If the Badgers’ offensive line struggles to block Newton and Randolph Jr., it will be a long day for Wisconsin.


Wisconsin Badgers

The Badgers desperately need a win this week after the ass-whooping they took at the hands of the Buckeyes last week, and it won’t come easy against the Illini this Saturday.

As mentioned earlier, Illinois brings one of the best defensive units in the country into the contest, which is bad news for a Wisconsin offense that looked lost for a majority of their matchup last week.

The good news for the Badgers is that starting left tackle Jack Nelson is expected to return to the lineup this week, which is a massive boost for the offense.

Right tackle Riley Mahlman wasn’t on the initial injury report this week, but all signs point towards the redshirt freshman missing his fourth consecutive game due to injury. In Mahlman’s absence, Trey Wedig has stepped up big time and played some great football, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets the starting nod or rotates snaps with Mahlman down the road.

I say this every week, but the offensive line will be a major factor in the Badgers winning this game. Illinois only allows 87.3 yards per game rushing, so the big fellas up front and Braelon Allen could be in for a long day if they don’t play to the best of their abilities.

Graham Mertz and the passing attack also face a huge challenge this week against Illinois’ elite secondary. Mertz played terribly last week, and if he doesn’t get off to a solid start, I’m afraid the results could be the same this week.

To make matters even worse, the Badgers lost tight end Clay Cundiff for the season to a left leg fracture last week. Cundiff had been a favorite target for Mertz and was really coming into his own in Bobby Engram’s offense.

Badgers’ Defense

The Badgers’ defense was outmatched last week against the more talented Buckeye offense; they will need to bounce back in a big way this week and keep this game close enough for Wisconsin to have a chance at victory.

Someone on the defensive line besides Nick Herbig and Keeanu Benton needs to make an impact this week to try and slow down Illinois’ impressive running game. If the Badgers can take away the run, it will make life much more difficult for the Illini.

That said, the Wisconsin secondary is a little banged up at the moment and let C.J. Stroud do whatever he wanted last week. If they repeat that dreadful performance, the same result may hold true for Tommy Devito.


Best Bets

It’s been a terrible year for yours truly, but I’m back again with my best bets for this week’s contest.

Best Bets Season Record: (2-10…fucking yikes)

  • Illinois Fighting Illini +7 (-110) – It pains me to say this is my favorite bet of the week. Illinois has looked strong this season, and although I believe the Badgers will win, this should be an extremely close game.
  • Game total under 43.5 points (-110) – In our staff predictions article, I said this will be a classic low-scoring Big Ten football game. I see a lot of work for the punters this game and not a whole lot of touchdowns.
  • Will there be a scoreless quarter? Yes (+145) – Continuing with the close game, low-scoring trend. It’s very realistic that 15 minutes goes by without either team moving the ball much, let alone score.
  • Braelon Allen to score 2 touchdowns (+150) – As mentioned in my earlier picks, there won’t be many points to go around, but if the Badgers do score, it’s likely to come from Allen.
  • Defensive or special teams touchdown by either team (+203) – I can’t give this bet up; it has to cash for me one of these weeks.
  • Will there be overtime, yes (+800) – This will not go on my record (unless it hits, then of course I will act like the smartest gambler of all time), but if you’re feeling dangerous, throw a few bucks on this game going to OT with both teams so evenly matched.

To place your own bets with BadgerNotes partner – MyBookie.AG – Click here


 

You can follow me on Twitter @FrznPizzaCooperThere 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.

How to watch: Wisconsin Badgers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini

How to watch, listen, and stream Wisconsin Badgers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini

On Saturday afternoon, the Wisconsin Badgers (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten) will head back to Madison to face the Illinois Fighting Illini (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten) in the second conference matchup of the season.

The Badgers head into Saturday’s game off of a 52-21 blowout loss to Ohio State in Columbus.

This will be the second Big Ten matchup for Wisconsin and Illinois, and both teams are looking for their first win in conference play.

UW is looking to rebound following a tough loss on the road. The Badgers came out flat in all three phases and ultimately suffered a demoralizing loss. Wisconsin will need to find some answers after losing their starting Clay Cundiff due to injury. The junior tight end was a key contributor in the receiving game, and the Badgers will now need to find an alternative in Hayden Rucci or Jake Eschenbach.

Illinois comes into Saturday off of a win over the Chattanooga Mocs. The Fighting Illini have found great success through the air with their quarterback Tommy DeVito. The Syracuse transfer has looked like a reliable singal caller, and it will be key for the Badgers to force DeVito to make mistakes.

Let’s take a look at where you can watch, stream, and listen to Saturday’s matchup:


Where: Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin

When: Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, at 11:00 a.m. CST

Where to watch: Big Ten Network

Where to stream: Fox Sports App or foxsports.com/live

Other streaming options:

Badger Notes has joined forces with Playback Sports

This streaming service allows fans to join in a watch party that enables them to enjoy games among other fans in a virtual bar-like setting that also includes live message boards.

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

Where to listen: Badger Sports Network on the iHeartRadio app or Sirius Satellite Radio XM 195

Play-by-play: Matt Lepay

Analyst: Mike Lucas


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.

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