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Grading No. 14 Wisconsin’s win over Nebraska

Someone tell the Badgers that tackling is also allowed on first, second and third down.

Wisconsin v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/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

What is with this team and tackling on the road? Goodness.

Nebraska probably played its best game of the season; therefore, I had a rather stressful morning. When that “Minnesota clinches the B1G West with a win and Wisconsin loss” graphic flashed on the screen, I must admit that I panicked on the inside a little.

Moral of the story? A win is a win, but I will join Badger nation in elevated nerves as I turn my attention to the Iowa Hawkeyes and Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Offense: B+

QB: C-
O-line: A-


Jack Coan was inconsistent but avoided major mistakes. He uncharacteristically struggled with slants over the middle, and his completion percentage was atypically low at 61.9%. He did hit one to A.J. Taylor for a 55-yard touchdown, but he also threw several feet behind his target on similar routes.

Speaking of A.J. Taylor, he and the other receivers played very well. If Coan hits a few more passes, the crew could have had another touchdown or two. Also, the receivers added 67 rushing yards on six carries.

In the end, Wisconsin’s offensive line wore down Nebraska’s thin defensive front, and Jonathan Taylor punished the Huskers on several key runs, often dragging blackshirts 5-to-10 yards to finish the play.

Defense: D+

Pass rush: B-
Pass coverage: D+
Run defense: F


Nebraska QB Adrian Martinez looked great. While his completion percentage was rather low at 56.5%, he averaged 9.6 yards per completion. He also ran for 123 yards when you discount his 34 sack yards.

The pass rush had its moments of excellence, such as this sack by Zack Baun.

The defense also seemingly went through long stretches without much of a pass rush at all.

The big story here was Wisconsin’s weak rush defense. The Huskers averaged 7.4 yards per rush and they also seemed to break three tackles per play.

Several key fourth-down stops in Wisconsin territory kept Nebraska’s score artificially low. Nebraska could have easily scored 10-to-20 more points in this one. I certainly credit Wisconsin for forcing so many turnovers on down, but it also found itself in too many precarious situations.

This is a high D+. Overall, this performance was unacceptable due to poor tackling, but I admit that there were several positive moments.

Special Teams: B+

Kicking: B
Punting: B-
Returning: A
Coverage: B


Between a 3-for-3 field goal day by Collin Larsh, a decent punting performance by Anthony Lotti and a kickoff return by Aron Cruickshank, this is the best special teams performance by the Badgers in a loooooooooong time.

Coaching: C-

Strategy: D+
Adjustments: C
Play-calling: C


The Badgers were not ready to face a mediocre team, and the Huskers ran all over Bucky. The defensive scheme did not handle the read option very well, but the offense was okay.

Overall grade: C

Unit Grades: C+
Big plays: C
Game Control: D-
Penalties & Discipline: C+


While Wisconsin lead throughout, it should have blown the doors off of the Huskers. Nebraska is one of the weaker teams in the conference, and Wisconsin edged it out. It was fine—on to Purdue.

Bonus grades

Not being able to think of a good bonus grade: F

I’d rather just be honest with you rather than try to make something up here. I’ll do better next week.

(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