The Wisconsin Badgers continued their historic start to the 2019 season with a 48–0 victory at home against the Kent State Golden Flash.
The statistics from the game are obviously impressive, yet again, but what stands out more from Saturday’s victory is where this team — the defense specifically — stands among the all-time great Badger teams.
Here are five notes on how historically dominant this team has been:
Saturday’s game marked the team’s third shutout victory of the season, the first time they’ve shut out their opponent three times in a season since 1937, and it’s only taken this year’s team five games to reach that mark.
The Badgers are now the last team in the entire Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) to not trail for even a single second this season.
Their 28–0 lead at halftime Saturday moved their first-half point differential on the season to 135–3, or an average halftime score of 27–0.6 in favor of Wisconsin.
The Badgers have only given up three points in the first quarter this season and have yet to give up any points in the second quarter. In all, they’ve only allowed an average of 5.8 points per game.
The Badgers are ranked fourth in ESPN’s overall efficiency rating — first defensively and ninth offensively — as they sit behind only Oklahoma, Alabama and The Ohio State University.
In yet another dominant performance against a poor team, here are three takeaways from Wisconsin’s fifth victory of the season:
First, senior Chris Orr and the linebacking core look as dominant as ever, and Defensive Coordinator Jim Leonhard’s pressure schemes are helping them flourish.
Orr finished the contest with five tackles, two tackles-for-loss and two sacks, while only playing three quarters.
The Wisconsin linebackers finished the game with 10 tackles, five tackles-for-loss, five sacks and a fumble recovery. Credit to Leonhard for not being afraid to blitz his linebackers on any down and distance.
The second takeaway from Saturday is that, as hinted above, this defense is the best in the country.
Yes, it sounds like a crazy proposition. But through five games this season, the statistics back it up.
Leonhard’s unit allows just 3.09 yards-per-play, best in the country, and only 1.8 yards-per-carry, third in the country. They also lead the nation in yards-per-pass (4.2 yards) and opponent completion percentage (44.6%).
Yes, Michigan has been their only true defensive test thus far, but even when the team started 5-0 in 2017, they allowed 14.2 points-per-game through their first five games.
What this defense is doing — opponents aside — is flat out remarkable.
The final takeaway from Saturday’s contest is junior running back Jonathan Taylor’s emergence in the passing game, and how it is turning him into a complete NFL-ready player.
Taylor finished the game with 19 attempts for 186 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, nothing new given his pedigree and success this season.
What was a bit surprising were his receiving stats: three catches for 29 yards and a touchdown.
Taylor finished behind only sophomore receiver Kendric Pryor in receiving yards and tied for the team lead with three receptions.
Taylor spoke during the offseason on how he wanted to add pass-catching to his arsenal, and through five games he has 12 catches for 114 yards and four receiving touchdowns.
There is little doubt that with 859 all-purpose yards through five games, Taylor will be in New York City for the Heisman Trophy presentation come December.
The Badgers will look to stay undefeated when they welcome unranked Michigan State to Camp Randall Saturday.