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Grading Wisconsin’s jaw-dropping 38-0 victory over Michigan State

Were the Badgers dominant enough to earn an A+?

Michigan State v Wisconsin Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Rubric - Wisconsin Football Unit Grades

Grade Description - accounting for degree of difficulty
Grade Description - accounting for degree of difficulty
A Excellent: Top-5 level performance
B Very good: Top-tier Big Ten performance
C Acceptable: Average for the Big Ten
D Unacceptable: Below average for the Big Ten
F Failure: Rutgers level performance
N/A Insufficient evidence for a grade

Who saw that coming?

The Michigan State Spartans, a typically feisty foe, had its back against the wall after a loss against Ohio State last weekend and needed a big day at Camp Randall.

Instead, the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers (6-0) slapped the desperate Spartans silly to the tune of a 38-0 shutout victory. Let’s take a look at how the Badgers grade out after this key win and what it might mean for the future.

Offense: A

O-line: A


Michigan State sold out on stopping Jonathan Taylor, and it didn’t work. Wisconsin gained 6.0 yards per play even though Taylor was held to 3.1 yards per carry.

The Badgers offensive line played its best game of the year, and Jack Coan put his best performance of the season forward. Statistically, it was not as strong as his game against Central Michigan, but 8.6 passing yards per attempt against MSU is admirable.

Jake Ferguson was a significant factor in the victory, catching four passes for 62 yards.

Oh, and the jet sweep is back!

Defense: A+

Pass rush: A+
Pass coverage: A+
Run defense: A+


I have no words to describe how great this defense is.

Wisconsin held MSU to 2.92 yards per play and 2-for-14 on third down. Zack Baun’s interception return gave the Badgers their fourth defensive touchdown of the season.

Four shutouts in six games just doesn’t happen. This is special; enjoy it.

Special Teams: B-

Kicking: B
Punting: C
Returning: B
Coverage: C


Once again, special teams were not a factor in this one. Aaron Cruickshank had a 38-yard opening kickoff return which set the tone for the entire game.

Zach Hintze continues to excel on kickoffs, and Anthony Lotti hit a few good punts. His bad punts were in garbage time, so I don’t ding him that much.

Jack Dunn was knocked out early in the game, and Danny Davis III took over on punt returns. Davis did not seem to be much of an improvement over Dunn, but I will give him the benefit of the doubt on a windy afternoon.

Coaching: A

Strategy: A
Adjustments: N/A
Play-calling: A


Paul Chryst’s offensive scheme flourished in spite of Taylor being limited to 3.1 yards per carry. He has the weapons offensively to make the opposing defense pay for selling out on Taylor, and his play-calling has made it a reality.

Jim Leonhard completely baffled Michigan State’s QB Brian Lewerke. Wisconsin has been blessed with brilliant defensive coordinators the past six years, and Leonhard is hitting his stride right now. Not only are his schemes effective and confusing to the opposing team, but he also is effectively teaching his players to execute the scheme every single play.

BYU v Wisconsin Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Overall grade: A+

Unit Grades: A
Big plays: A
Game Control: A+
Penalties & Discipline: A


I don’t care what you say, the Ohio State Buckeyes are the best team in the NCAA right now. It beat MSU 34-10. Wisonsin beat MSU 38-0.

As of writing, 59% of B5Q followers on twitter say Wisconsin deserves an A+. I agree.

Combined with the excellent play throughout the year, this performance cements Wisconsin as a national championship contender. UW deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Ohio State. I can’t wait for Oct. 26.

Bonus grades

No. 3 Georgia: F


Georgia should be given four losses for that game. I swear, if Georgia stays in the top ten this week... I probably will write a sassy tweet and move on.

Scoring as many defensive touchdown as the defense allows: A

Well, the defense could have more touchdowns to earn an A+. The unit has given up four touchdowns and has also scored four touchdowns.

Betting the Under: C+

The over / under was 40. Wisconsin scored 38. However, the under hit. I don’t know how you do it, Tyler, but you did!

Mark Johnson: A+

Women’s hockey completed the sweep of No. 8 OSU after a 7-3 victory. UW’s sixth consecutive win of the season gave Mark Johnson career win No. 500. It’s not football, but it’s still awesome.

(Author’s note: apologies to those viewing this on mobile. You may have more luck reading the table directly from the source.)

2019 Wisconsin Football Grade Book

Category Mich NW MSU @ Ill. @ OSU Iowa @ Neb Purdue @ Minn B1G Championship Rose Bowl
Category Mich NW MSU @ Ill. @ OSU Iowa @ Neb Purdue @ Minn B1G Championship Rose Bowl
Overall A- C+ A+ D- B- B- C B- A- B- C-
Unit Grade Composite A C+ A D B- B- C+ B B+ B- C+
Big Plays A- B A D C+ B- C B A C D
Game Control B D A+ F N/A C D- C A D D
Penalties & Discipline C- C+ A F C+ D C+ C- A B+ N/A
Offense A D A D+ C+ B B+ B+ A- B- C+
QB B D A D N/A C C- B- A B- C
OL A+ D+ A D- C+ B- A- B B+ B- C+
RB / FB A+ B B+ C N/A A A A B B+ B-
WR / TE B D A B N/A B+ B+ A A B C
Defense A A- A+ D- B C+ D+ C B B- B+
Pass rush A- A+ A+ D+ B C+ C+ C+ B+ B B+
Pass coverage B+ B+ A+ F B C- D+ D B- C+ A-
Run defense A+ B+ A+ F B B F B+ A+ B- B+
Special Teams C+ D B- C+ B C- B+ A+ B+ F A- & F
Kicking C- B+ B C B C- B A+ B D+ D+
Punting B C C B- B C- B- N/A C- F F
Returning C+ F B C+ B C- A N/A A D A+
Coverage C- B C C+ B N/A B N/A B+ D N/A
Coaching A C A F N/A B- C- C+ A B- N/A
Strategy A+ C A D N/A B- D+ C B+ B N/A
Adjustments B C N/A F N/A B C B A F N/A
Play Calling A C A F N/A B- C B- A+ B N/A