The biggest story of the day through the Badgers’ two opening drives? Jack Coan. Coan set an incredible pace for the University of Wisconsin offense as he opened the game 7-7 for 88 yards and a touchdown.
This dominant performance from Coan was crucial in giving the Badgers’ their opening lead as Jonathan Taylor rushed for just 58 yards on 17 attempts through two quarters of play.
With a rushing touchdown from Taylor, a one-handed touchdown reception from Quintez Cephus and a 29-yard field goal from Collin Larsh, the Badgers went into the locker room after the first half with a dominant 17–0 lead.
In a post game press conference, Head Coach Paul Chryst knew going in that Michigan would put their best effort forward to stop Taylor.
“It’s no secret that everyone’s plan is going to be how do you stop JT or minimize him,” Chryst said. “You knew that going in and for us to be the best offense you gotta be able to move the ball in multiple ways.”
Despite the numbers, Coan ended up producing on offense with 180 yards passing and one touchdown, the Wisconsin defense stole the show for the day.
Through the first half, they allowed just 38 all-purpose yards to the Michigan State offense. This includes limiting Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke, who found moderate success against a stout The Ohio State University offense, to just four completions on 11 attempts for a total of 27 passing yards.
Zack Baun also managed to intercept a pass from Lewerke and return it 34 yards for a pick-six, Wisconsin’s fourth defensive touchdown of the year. That total is equal to the number of touchdowns they’ve allowed all year.
Michigan State showed some life at the beginning of the second half as they made a quick dash into Wisconsin territory. They were eventually thwarted by two sacks — one from Chris Orr and one from Isaiahh Loudermilk — as well as an illegal substitution play which put them out of field goal range.
Wisconsin then proceeded to get the ball back and drive 92 yards down the field for another touchdown that gave them a lead of 24–0. Michigan State could find no refuge on either side of the ball as the Badgers continued to press the issue. Following the defensive touchdown by Baun and another failed possession from Michigan State, Kendric Pryor went for a 66-yard touchdown on the first play of their drive.
Following this, the game came to a close as both teams’ offenses began to eat clock without much in the way of big yardage gains. At the end of the day, the Spartans’ most successful offensive play was a fake punt that went for 20 yards.
All in all, this was an absolute beat down by the Badgers. Any questions that remained certain areas of play — whether it be offensive line, receiving core or their secondary — were put to rest by this game. The Spartans are by no means the toughest test that the Badgers will face all season.
But they were a battle-tested team that showed their ability to hang with the Buckeyes for at least two quarters of play. They couldn’t hang with the Badgers right from the onset. Between a dominant performance from Coan and yet another strangling outing by the defense, Sparty had little chance to take down the Badgers today.