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Grading No. 13 Wisconsin’s enjoyable win over No. 18 Iowa

Just some good old-fashioned B1G football fun on a Saturday afternoon.

NCAA Football: Iowa at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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

Alright, I have to come clean. I looked back at my grades from a few weeks ago (the loss to Ohio State), and they were trash. I was in a rough spot, mourning the gap between the “have”s and the “have-not”s. However, I’m willing to move on if you’re willing to forgive.

Speaking of moving on from poor performances, wasn’t that a fun football game? I felt like we were all in our own little world reveling in glorious B1G football while LSU and Alabama played what I assume was a ridiculous 46-41 game. And, as we beheld this Wisconsin - Iowa game, we got to see Wisconsin face an appropriately challenging foe.

I feel like this is the tragedy in college football. Yes, there are huge games every week, and the entire season is a single-elimination playoff for any non-blue blood team. However, how many games do we get to watch between evenly matched teams?

Listen, when you zoom out, this 24-22 victory over Iowa is a bit disappointing. The Badgers were cruising towards a potential playoff berth a mere four weeks ago, and now it struggles to beat a decent B1G team at home. We cannot live our lives as Badger fans this way if we want to enjoy things. I recommend we all put on the blinders and enjoy this exciting, although flawed, Badger performance.

Offense: B

O-line: B-


Wisconsin went up against a strong defense that is the best in the country in limiting opponents’ explosive plays, and the Badgers passed this test in a big way. It was generally consistent on offense and hit a few big plays as well.

Jack Coan had a few good moments, particularly with two big passes to Quintez Cephus and one touchdown to Danny Davis. However, he only completed 64% of his passes and let Iowa back into the game late with an interception. His passes to the sideline fluttered quite a bit; even when a receiver was wide open, the defensive backs had plenty of time to close in and limit the yardage gained.

It was nice to see the Badgers stretch the field a bit with Cephus and getting the receivers more involved in the second half. There is a lot of talent there, and Paul Chryst needs to figure out how to get them more involved.

And yes, Jonathan Taylor was excellent again. I was shocked that he gained 250 yards against an Iowa team that simply does not allow those types of performances all that often. The offensive line looked well-rested, too, and it was able to win the battle at the line of scrimmage more often than not.

The inconsistency of the o-line’s pass protection dings the unit to a B-.

Defense: C+

Pass rush: C+
Pass coverage: C-
Run defense: B


Iowa’s offense is not good, and the Badgers again showed periods of poor tackling. Also, this defense continues to show that it gives up big plays late in games.

The defense was close to A- quality in the first half when it only allowed six points with three of those coming on a short field. However, the pass rush generally disappeared in the second half and Iowa QB Nate Stanley found his rhythm late.

Iowa came into this one averaging about 24 points per game, and Wisconsin allowed 22. Any way I slice this one, it was an overall above-average performance.

On the other hand... BUTT TACKLE!

Special Teams: C-

Kicking: C-
Punting: C-
Returning: C
Coverage: N/A


I really don’t want to talk about special teams, but it almost cost the Badgers another one. Props to Collin Larsh, though, for shaking off his early miss and making the key fourth-quarter field goal. Anthony Lotti only punted three times, but he averaged about 34 yards on those punts.

With respect to the return game, it was generally impotent. The coverage unit was barely challenged. Zach Hintze continued to do his job.

Coaching: B-

Strategy: B-
Adjustments: B
Play-calling: B-


I really appreciated the adjustments in the second half that opened up Wisconsin’s offense. In general, the game plan seemed to work. Nothing spectacular here, but the plan was solid.

Overall grade: B-

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


This is a low B-; the Badgers barely edged out an upper-mid-tier program at home. Also, for coming off a bye week, the number of pre-snap penalties Wisconsin committed was unacceptable. Eight penalties is way too much and likely kept this one close.

Bonus grades

Veterans day halftime show: B+

I continue to appreciate how Dr. Corey Pomey has made his mark on the Wisconsin marching band, and this weekend was no exception. The armed forces tribute songs were well done, and the airplane the band made for the Air Force was a “wow” moment in the stands.

Figuring out how to rank Minnesota: A+

The College Football Playoff committee disrespected the Gophers in a big way last week by placing them all the way down at No. 17. It will be really fascinating to see where Minnesota lands when this is all said and done. For what it’s worth, it doesn’t bother me one bit that the fighting Flecks beat Penn State today. If the Gophers want to win the west just to get their collective faces bashed in by the Buckeyes, be my guest.

(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