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Wisconsin Football Venting Session & Illinois Roast

Let’s get sad, Wisconsin football fans.



Wisconsin Badgers Football running back Braelon Allen dropped in the backfield vs. Iowa
Oct 14, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes linebacker Kyler Fisher (37) and defensive back Sebastian Castro (29) force a fumble by Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tork Mason-USA TODAY Sports

I’m going to warn you right now: things down below aren’t particularly positive. I still think that Wisconsin football moving on from Paul Chryst and hiring Luke Fickell was a big upgrade and that things will eventually get better for the Badgers … they are, however, decidedly not better right now.

Continuing to do the same thing year after year was not a viable way forward for Wisconsin, and, well, UW lost to Iowa last year, too, so who even cares who the head coach is?!?

Let’s get sad!

Wisconsin Football (Overall: 4-2; B1G: 2-1)

SP+ rank: Overall 25th, Offense 49th, Defense 13th, Special Teams 11th

Previous week’s result: (L) vs. Iowa, 15-6

Iowa Thoughts: Look, I don’t want to toot my own horn here but…everything I said about this game last week was correct! 

It was awful and maddening and frustrating and infuriating and the Hawkeyes seemed to revel in it while the Badgers couldn’t get out of their own way. GOD, I HATED EVERY SECOND OF THIS GAME! 

Iowa’s QB Deacon Hill attempted four passes in the second half (none in the fourth quarter) and completed only one of them for::drumroll:: one entire yard. AND HE WAS THE QUARTERBACK ON THE WINNING TEAM!

After Iowa’s Leshon Williams burst through the middle of the Wisconsin football defense for an 82-yard touchdown run at the beginning of the second quarter, I jokingly (I think) tweeted that the game was over because it was 7-0.

Well, that was the only touchdown either team scored all day, and the Badgers were only able to muster up six points total sooooo, yeah. The Hawkeyes touchdown came right in the middle of Wisconsin’s four straight three-and-out drives, where they ran the ball two times…for four yards.

Wisconsin’s defense wasn’t great on Saturday, but they played well enough to win most weeks. They had nine tackles for loss, two sacks, held Iowa to nine first downs, and only allowed 37 passing yards all game. Wisconsin football special teams were solid too. Nathaniel Vakos absolutely drilled a 52-yard field goal (his second make of the day), Gavin Lahm kept all of his kickoffs inbounds, Chimere Dike was fine in the return game, and Atticus Bertrams averaged 42.9 yards per punt and dropped three inside the 20. See? That’s all good enough to win a B1G West game!

The Wisconsin Badgers offense, on the other hand, was pitiful.

Inept play-calling (the slow-developing 4th and one run that left Iowa’s Cooper DeJean unblocked to make a TFL was certainly one play Phil Longo could’ve chosen there), a dinged-up Braelon Allen not being available for the whole game, a backup quarterback forced into action while clearly not ready, and ill-timed penalties (often of the pre-snap variety) made for one Very Bad Day at Camp Randall Stadium.

Throw in a pair of turnovers (both by backup QB Braedyn Locke) and a safety, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for Iowa Beats Wisconsin.

While I am loath to “hand it” to Iowa for any reason, their defense (now ranked 1st by SP+) was better than advertised. Sebastian Castro made multiple huge plays, the team forced three fumbles, and they broke up seven passes on the day.

The star of the day, however, was punter Tory Taylor. I know we all like to get our jokes off about “punting to win” in the Big Ten, but he literally was the reason Iowa won. He pinned the Badgers deep so many times that it felt like Wisconsin football would be better served just punting it right back instead of risking a turnover in the shadow of their own goalpost.

On the day, Taylor punted 10 times for 506 yards (50.6 yards per punt) with a long of 62. Six of his punts ended up inside the 20 and three of those were inside the 10. He was a legit weapon and I couldn’t have been more impressed with his performance.

With the win, Iowa not only retained the Heartland Trophy, but they are now in the driver’s seat to claim the final Big Ten West title.

Three of Iowa’s last five games are at home and they should be favored in both of their remaining road contests (at Northwestern, at Nebraska), which leaves the Wisconsin Badgers with the disgusting possibility of an 11-1 Iowa team that averages under 100 passing yards a game and scores 18 points per game. I’m going to throw up.

Also, if you haven’t yet, don’t look up Graham Mertz’s stat line for Florida from yesterday.

Let’s Examine the Wisconsin Badgers Next Opponent, Illinois 

Up next: Saturday, Oct. 21, at Illinois, 2:30 p.m. CT, FS1

Illinois Thoughts: Before the season started, I saw some people point to this game as a potential “trap” since it was between a big rivalry game (Iowa) and the Wisconsin football team’s toughest, most marquee opponent (Ohio State), but I didn’t think so. 

I thought the Illini lost too much talent from last year, and while I think I’ve been correct because Illinois stinks, so does Wisconsin.

The Illini are 3-4 on the season with embarrassing blowout losses to Penn State, Kansas, Purdue, and Nebraska, but they’re coming off a road win against Maryland and probably see a wounded Badgers team coming to Champaign as ripe for an upset.

Wisconsin football got their doors blown off by Illinois last season so they surely won’t be taking this game lightly, but Tanner Mordecai’s injury led to him getting surgery and without a timetable for return. Which begs the question, will the Badgers offense have enough juice to score double digits?

There was a time, merely one week ago, where I thought the Badgers could give Ohio State a run for their money at Camp Randall this year. Now, the Buckeyes look much better and I’m praying to every god out there that Wisconsin football can score a touchdown against Illinois.

Bleak, bleak times.

Fun Tweet of the Week I Wanted to Include Just Because

This is me when my wife is out of town.

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Drew Hamm is a seasoned sports journalist with an extensive background in covering the Wisconsin Badgers. He has previously held positions as the site manager at Bucky's 5th Quarter and founder of Badgers Ball Knower. Currently, he contributes as a staff writer for