4. The Really Big Thing Was …
On Wisconsin, On Wisconsin, plunge right through that line …
At least in the rankings – 9th in the Coaches Poll and 8th in the the AP – Wisconsin isn’t quite there when it comes to breaking through that ceiling to be one of this year’s elite of the elites. However, no one so far – not Clemson vs. Texas A&M, or LSU over Texas, or Georgia over Notre Dame, or Auburn over Oregon – has come up with a more dominant performance over a top 15 team than what the Badgers did to then-No. 11 Michigan.
Now the Badgers have their moment. It was the early game on Saturday, almost everyone saw it, and now they have set the expectations at a reasonably high level.
The post-game narrative in Michigan’s 35-14 loss that wasn’t even that close – the Wolverines came up with two late scores when the game was effectively over – was how awful it looked and how ill-prepared Jim Harbaugh’s team was. But Wisconsin had something to do with that.
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Behind a brilliant game from the offensive line, the Badgers had the ball for nearly 25 minutes in the first half, and before a late Dylan McCaffrey run had outgained the Wolverines 200 rushing yards to zero.
How air-tight is Wisconsin after three games? It’s No.1 in the nation in scoring defense, No. 1 in third down defense, No. 1 in time of possession, No. 1 in pass efficiency defense, No. 2 in turnover margin, and No. 2 in first downs allowed.
What’s truly different about this team? Jonathan Taylor and the running game that rolled for 359 yards had the starring role, but QB Jack Coan hit 13-of-16 passes. The Badgers are third in the nation in completion percentage and 15th in the nation in passing efficiency.
Now it’s time to do what the elites do and blast through the supposed layup games with little to no drama. Northwestern is the defending West champ but it’s been awful so far. Wisconsin has to win next week in a walk.
For now, this was a potential signature moment. Wisconsin aced its test.