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Grading Wisconsin’s thorough 48-0 win over Kent State

33 yards on fullback dives isn’t the most important story-line, but it is my favorite. Oh, and JT scored five TDs.

@B5QPhotos; Matt Fleming

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

A wet and chilly Saturday afternoon couldn’t cool down Jonathan Taylor and the Wisconsin Badgers (5-0). It was Wisconsin’s fourth dominant win of the year against three (or maybe four) poor teams. I’m excited to be done with the MAC until September 11, 2021 when Wisconsin plays Eastern Michigan at Camp Randall.

Fair note, I missed the entire fourth quarter. There’s a lot of debate in football analytics about garbage time, but that fourth quarter was, indeed, garbage time.

Offense: B+

QB: B-
O-line: B


Kent State’s defense is so terrible that I cannot justify anything above a B+ for this performance. Wisconsin gained 6.9 yards per play, which is very good (Editor’s note: or nice?), but it is not quite elite given the level of competition.

Taylor, however, is elite, but you knew that. He ran for 9.8 yards per carry and also lead the team in receiving with three catches for 29 yards.

Also, who doesn’t love a total of 33 rushing yards on fullback dives between Mason Stokke and John Chenal?

Jack Coan did a nice job. I know the B- grade seems harsh for a 12-for-15 performance and two passing touchdowns, but I didn’t see anything particularly excellent that deserved anything higher than a B-. Even Graham Mertz’s 5-for-5 day does not move the needle for me.

The offensive line did what it was supposed to do.

Defense: A

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


The defense recorded nine sacks, held Kent State to 2.8 yards per play and did not allow a single point.

Special Teams: C

Kicking: C+
Punting: N/A
Returning: D+
Coverage: N/A


Special teams were simply not a factor in this one. Zach Hintze nailed seven touchbacks out of eight. The one that wasn’t a touchback was the best kickoff, too, as the coverage team pinned Kent State within the 15 yard line.

Collin Larsh missed an extra point. Jack Dunn muffed a punt and made a lot of fair catches. Nakia Watson had a nice return.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 05 Kent State at Wisconsin Photo by Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Basically, I almost put N/A for this whole section, but enough happened to give it a score.

Coaching: B

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


All Paul Chryst needed to do was get the ball in Taylor’s hands. He gave Taylor the ball, and the Badgers rolled.

NCAA Football: Kent State at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Overall grade: A-

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


Wisconsin had a much-needed pallet cleanser after a typically ugly win over Northwestern. It controlled the game from start to finish and avoided even minor lapses in discipline. A workmanlike victory earns Wisconsin its third A- of the year.

Bonus grades

Flash the Eagle: F

It was bound to happen when you have a series called “your mascot sucks.” One of the opposing mascots is going to fight back. And, rightly so, because we claimed that Flash the Eagle didn’t have a Twitter account. An honest mistake, no?

You know when you take a joke a little too far? Yeah...

Flash the Eagle is the Buster Bluth of MAC mascots.

Also, where were you today? Why didn’t you make the trip to Madison? Here’s an idea: ask your 2500 followers to pitch in a quarter so you can take a plane to Madison. Or, you could just fly there since you’re a bird.

Seriously, though, I’ll miss sparring with the Flash the Eagle on twitter. Maybe this week we can have some fun with Sparty. Please have a week-long twitter beef with us, Sparty, and don’t wait until Ryan roasts you on Friday.

Finally making good predictions: B

After predicting Hunter Johnson would be really good, I’m happy to announce I got a few things right this week. Hey, I’m almost never right with my predictions unless it’s Wisconsin women’s hockey, so I will take this moment to gloat.

My correct predictions this week were:

  • Wisconsin would score 48 points;
  • Jonathan Taylor would have 20 carries for 180 rushing yards (he had 19 for 186).

Weather: D+

Weather, you are why I missed #MertzTime.

(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