The Wisconsin football program lost to the Iowa Hawkeyes in an embarrassing 15-6 fashion. The Badgers are now, for all intents and purposes, out of the race for the Big Ten West after failing to come away with a victory in one of the most pivotal games of the season.
Here are my grades for Wisconsin’s offense, defense, and special teams from the loss to Iowa.
Wisconsin Football Offense Grade: F
This grade should come as no surprise. The Badgers offense was an absolute disaster.
I’ll start with the good. It was nice to see Bryson Green get involved and have a bit of a coming-out party. The former Oklahoma State transfer logged five receptions for 86 yards, leading the way for Wisconsin’s receiving corps. That’s it; let’s move on to the bad.
Of course, Tanner Mordecai’s injury is the biggest storyline coming out of this one. The sixth-year senior injured his throwing hand after colliding with a defender’s helmet on his follow-through. That forced redshirt freshman Braedyn Locke to step in, and while the redshirt freshman looked serviceable in his reps, Iowa’s defense made it impossible to get anything going.
UW fans knew it would be tough sledding against this stout Iowa defense, but the run game was nearly non-existent. Wisconsin mustered up only 104 yards on the ground. Going into Saturday’s tilt, I wrote about how Iowa’s defense is excellent but had a bit more of a weakness when defending the run. Even so, the Badgers couldn’t get the ground game going. Offensive line play certainly played a factor in that, but no matter how you spin it, the offense was a complete failure on Saturday night.
Mordecai’s availability is in question, Wisconsin still doesn’t fully know what they have in Locke, and Braelon Allen was dinged up during the game. Safe to say, this offense has a lot of question marks going forward.
Wisconsin Football Defense Grade: C
I’ll give some credit to the defense. Mike Tressel’s crew did enough to keep Wisconsin in the game, but the offense didn’t do them any favors. Still, some blame has to fall on the defense, especially against the rush.
The Badgers’ lackluster run defense has been a talking point for weeks, but this game really put its weaknesses on full display. It’s bad enough the only touchdown of the game came on the ground, but it’s worse when that touchdown run was an 82-yarder. The Hawkeyes finished with 200 yards on the ground, with 174 of those yards coming from Leshon Williams. It was just a brutal showing from a run defense that was seemingly turning the corner a bit.
Wisconsin had the benefit of going into this game against a familiar face in Deacon Hill. The former Badger QB was making his second career start, so there should have been an emphasis on forcing the inexperienced signal-caller to make mistakes. However, Hill didn’t even need to use his arm often, as he threw for just 37 yards while completing 6 of his 14 pass attempts. UW did have some chances to capitalize and force turnovers, but they just couldn’t execute — a metaphor for Wisconsin’s play as a whole.
The defense didn’t exactly perform above my expectations, but they didn’t completely fall short, either. With a middle-of-the-road performance, I can settle on a C grade for this group.
Wisconsin Football Special Teams Grade: B-
Despite some penalty issues, the special teams unit had a pretty solid night on Saturday. The Badgers committed four penalties in the third phase, costing them some crucial field position. That’s not to say if UW had a better field position, they would have capitalized, but the penalties were a bit frustrating.
Nathanial Vakos continues to be an absolute machine on three-point tries. The sophomore knocked through both of his attempts from 36 and 52 yards out, with the latter becoming his longest of the season. With his perfect game, Vakos is now 10-for-11 on field goal attempts this year.
I thought Atticus Bertrams did a solid job on Saturday night as well. For the most part, he kept the ball out of Cooper DeJean’s hands, which was about all you could ask him to do. Bertrams has been consistent as a true freshman, certainly a welcome sight.
The Wisconsin football program will now regroup as they look ahead to a clash with the 3-4 Illinois Fighting Illini. Let’s hope UW can turn this thing around quickly.
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