The Wisconsin Badgers (1-3, 0-2 Big Ten) fell to No.9 Michigan (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) by a score of 38-17 at Camp Randall on Saturday.
The 1-3 start to the season is the Badgers’ worst start since 1990.
In terms of performance, Wisconsin looked just as they have in their other big matchups against Penn State and Notre Dame. The offense was lethargic in every aspect, unable to link together solid drives consistently.
While fans have gotten used to the woes of the passing game, the struggles of the rushing attack have been hard to believe.
Head coach Paul Chryst tried to get the running game going with different backs but not much seemed to change. The Badgers leading rusher was freshman Braelon Allen, the presumed third running back, with just 19 yards on five carries.
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Though the offense struggled, the defense kept the Badgers in the game early on. Michigan’s strong rushing attack was held in check to an extent, with neither of their dynamic duo able to find much room. The Badgers had the defense to thank for going into halftime with just a three-point deficit.
While Graham Mertz struggled early on, he started to get into a rhythm at the end of the second quarter. Mertz led the Badgers on two scoring drives to end the half, including a 63-yard drive in just 20 seconds to cut the lead to 13-10.
Receiving the ball out of halftime, it appeared the Badgers had all the momentum, but it evaporated quickly. Mertz took a blow to the midsection on their first possession which knocked him out of the game.
The Badgers groove was disrupted and not seen for the rest of the game.
Chase Wolf struggled taking over for Mertz and the offense came to a halt. While the defense battled through the game, they gave up a few big plays that the offense was unable to match.
Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara was efficient with the football yet again, with another turnover free game and two touchdown passes — one of them being a 56-yard bomb on a flea flicker. The Badgers kept their focus on Michigan’s run game, which opened up some nice chunk plays downfield and McNamara delivered.
What was a close game at halftime turned into an avalanche of Michigan points that the Badgers had no answer for. Jake Ferguson also left the game due to injury — both he and Mertz are questionable for play next week.
A 1-3 start for the Badgers was not in the cards for most fans to start the season. The team will travel to Illinois (2-4, 1-2 Big Ten) next Saturday to try to save the sinking ship that is this 2021 season.