10 quick thoughts on Wisconsin’s 35-14 win over Michigan.
Wisconsin 35, Michigan 14
10. Tackles Cole Van Lanen and Logan Bruss, guard Josh Seltzner and Jason Erdmann, and center Tyler Biadasz. The Wisconsin offensive line was pure blocking porn as it put on a clinic in the first half. It was strong throughout – pounding away for over 361 rushing yards and with little pressure in the backfield – but right out of the gate, it took over things right away and set the tone. The coaching staff had no problems going for it on fourth downs – hitting on all three – because of the faith in the line.
9. The Michigan running game went absolutely nowhere. The Wolverine offensive line had an awful day with no push and little protection for Shea Patterson. The Michigan running back situation is an issue, but up until one oh-by-the-way run from Dylan McCaffrey in the final moments, Michigan was outgunned 200-0 on the ground for almost the entire first half.
8. Why is Wisconsin great? The little things. No turnovers and four takeaways. There were nine penalties, but most of them came after the outcome was decided. Third downs? The Badgers connected on 5-of-13 and all three of their third down tries. Michigan? 0-for-10. And the biggest one of all? Over 41 minutes in the time of possession battle. Wisconsin went all Wisconsin.
7. On the plus side for the Wolverines, the receivers looked and played great once they were able to get the ball. They’re big, they’re talented, and they won just about every 50/50 battle. Ronnie Bell got hosed on a big catch in the first half that was ruled incomplete, but he was strong, Tarik Black made a few decent grabs, Donovan Peoples-Jones scored, and Nico Collins caught three passes for 66 yards. They didn’t get enough chances.
6. 35-0. The Badgers getting up 21-0 was fantastic – they dominated out of the gate at home – but they got a shot late in the first half to get a little breathing room, and they put their foot on the gas with a quick touchdown drive on a Jack Coan scramble for a score and a 28-0 lead. Michigan got the ball to start the second half, the Badgers got a stop, and they rolled for 84 yards in 13 plays closing out with another TD to put it away. Wisconsin never let Michigan make it interesting.
5. Shea Patterson didn’t have any time to work. The offensive line didn’t give him any help, and the play calls weren’t doing him any favors. He finished with 219 yards and two scores, but almost all of the production came late. When the game was on, he couldn’t do anything to get the offense moving outside of a few big early plays. Michigan was going for the home run when it needed a few stand-up doubles.
4. Up 14-0, the Badgers were faced with a 4th and 3 on the Michigan 42. They didn’t run, they didn’t check down with a quick route, and they didn’t try to power away. They put the play in the hands of QB Jack Coan, who floated a perfect deep touch pass to Quintez Cephus for the first down. Five plays later, Coan powered it in for the score. Wisconsin has a quarterback – Coan completed 13-of-16 passes for 128 yards, and he ran for two scores. It helps when the offense can rely on the passing game when …
3. Jonathan Taylor had himself a day. Who runs for 200 yards against Michigan? No one, and Taylor pounded out 203 yards and two scores on 23 carries despite missing a good chunk of the game with cramps. He showed power, bounce, deep speed, and the ability to take over a game against a top 15-ranked team almost all by himself …
2. And now comes the screaming and yelling about Jim Harbaugh and big games. There’s a chance that Wisconsin really is just that good, but it doesn’t excuse or dismiss that it’s yet another big game that Michigan got rocked in. The team kept fighting and didn’t quit after the demoralizing start, but it was way, way, way too little, too late. Now there’s a big problem – the Wolverines still have Iowa, at Penn State, Notre Dame, at Maryland, Michigan State and Ohio State to go. Uh oh.
1. So what does this all really mean for Wisconsin? Beating USF and Central Michigan were cute, but total domination of Michigan is a whole other thing. Looking forward, with the way Northwestern is playing, that shouldn’t be a problem next week, and Kent State is a week off to follow.
Then it’s showdown time when Michigan State comes into town, but if the Badger scan keep playing like this, and if they win that, with at Illinois, Iowa, at Nebraska, Purdue and at Minnesota all winnable, it might come down to the date at Ohio State to be perf …
But that’s not the way Wisconsin and this coaching staff like to roll. It’s next play, next game, and never get too high or low. But for the Badgers, this might just be a special team to get that fired up about.