The Wisconsin Badgers (2-2, 0-1 B1G) struggled mightily Saturday night against the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus in a 52-21 loss. It was shades of 2014 in Indianapolis.
There is nothing I can say to make anyone in Wisconsin feel better right now, so I’ll simply suggest beer, sherry, or something stronger.
In order to give yourself a chance to have a chance to win games, especially against a team like Ohio State, you need to play good football and the Badgers didn’t do that Saturday night. The staff and players need to own what happened in Columbus and they need to own their response.
If I slept, I wouldn’t be able to sleep after watching Wisconsin tonight.
The stats aren’t going to be much, but Braelon Allen was really good tonight.
Defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard has hinted that the defense is still not processing everything. It was more than evident against Ohio State as it looked like UW was playing with nine on defense all night.
Watching the game live, the inside linebackers were consistently in the wrong holes. Inexperience reveals itself in space versus an offense like Ohio State. The linebackers looked lost out there.
Wisconsin getting thrown on was expected in this game, especially when Ohio State picks up every pressure that Jim Leonhard sends. The Badgers getting gashed on the ground, though, was really troubling. This defense lacks a true identity through four weeks.
I’m going to get this out of the way right now: Wisconsin will NEVER recruit like Ohio State. Never, never, never. Get it out of your system. If there is a gap to be narrowed, it won’t be because Wisconsin suddenly is recruiting better players.
Ohio has ten times the D1 recruits that Wisconsin does, has more diversity of recruits (skill + line) than Wisconsin does, and Ohio State fandom is never going to be outspent in the NIL world. Ryan Day has touted that their payroll will be $13 million, and it will be paid.
College football has changed in favor of those top few teams and everyone else is fighting an uphill battle. Can teams like Wisconsin compete with Ohio State in a given year or in a given game? Of course, but games like this are not going away. The same can be said for just about everyone else in college football behind a handful of bluebloods. Yeah, it sucks, but that is the reality of college football today.
Now back to the game. Graham Mertz, who has for the most part been very good this season, struggled a little bit tonight completing 11-of-20 passes for just 94 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Mertz wasn’t good Saturday night, but his young receivers did not help him out at all.
How much faith does the staff have in the offensive line right now? Lots of sprint outs for Mertz against OSU, which isn’t his game.
To tell you how bad the game went for UW, even punter Andy Vujnovich didn’t have it tonight. He punted six times and five of them were not good.￼
To make matters worse, Wisconsin tight end Clay Cundiff suffered a left leg fracture during the game. Tough moment for Cundiff, who dealt with a season-ending injury against Iowa last year and worked so hard to return.
If Wisconsin plays their A game, then we have a much more competitive game. When Ohio State plays their A game and Wisconsin plays their D+ game, we have what we had Saturday night.
While tonight sucked, the lousy reality is that it had little to do with the season outlook. All the goals (other than making the CFB Playoff) are still within reach. How the Badgers play moving forward will be the true gauge of this team.
The good news is that there isn’t an unwinnable game on the schedule. The bad news is that the team still has work to do and many of these games are also losable. Beating the Buckeyes during the regular season would be fun, but ultimately meaningless. They need to get them in the Big Ten championship and then land that lucky blow.
Also, those who want Paul Chryst fired, that’s not the answer…
The Badgers will return home to The Camp next Saturday, October 1st where they take on the Illinois Fighting Illini (3-1, 0-1 B1G). Kickoff is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. (Central Time) and will be televised on the Big Ten Network (BTN).
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