The Wisconsin Badgers (3-3, 1-1 Big Ten) earned a hard-fought win over Army (4-2) by a score of 20-14 on Saturday night. While the score appears quite close, the Badgers had control of the slow-paced game for most of the way.
There were not many surprises in this game as we saw both teams play the brand of football we are accustomed to. Wisconsin worked to assert the run game early on and it was effective, creating room for freshman Braelon Allen to rush for a 33-yard touchdown to make the game 7-0 in the second quarter. Allen ran wild on Saturday, totaling 108 yards on 16 carries to pair with Chez Mellusi’s 66 yards.
Army could not find room to run, especially early in the game. The Badgers’ defense was reading the triple option like a book, getting stops for little gain consistently. Junior linebacker Leo Chenal deserves a lot of credit for this, totaling a career-high of 17 tackles with 2.5 TFLs and a sack that led to a forced fumble late in the game. It was a career day for Chenal, who along with Jack Sanborn, made things incredibly difficult for the Army offense.
Wisconsin looked to be in total control at halftime, with a 13-0 lead and a 230-48 total yardage differential. Their foot may have come off the gas a bit, however, as the Army offense settled into doing what they do best. Army found success running the ball and was able to control the time of possession in the second half to give themselves a chance.
With a 13-7 lead and the pressure on the Badgers defense to make a stop, the unit was able to find success in the one area they were lacking. Leo Chenal’s impact on the game was headlined with a strip-sack that gave the Badgers the ball on their opponent’s one-yard line, as well as the elusive turnover the defense was looking for.
Graham Mertz snuck into the end zone for his second rushing touchdown of the day to make the score 20-7. Mertz was solid in the win, connecting with his favorite target Jake Ferguson four times and delivering some big throws when needed.
Though Army’s last-minute touchdown did make the score look closer than the gameplay, Wisconsin still could have played much better in the second half. The Badgers did not run the ball as effectively and gave the Army offense too much time on the field.
Braelon Allen’s big performance and the shutdown ability the defense showcased were enough to earn Wisconsin a win against a solid Army team. Looking ahead, the Badgers play #25 Purdue (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) on the road next Saturday.