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Wisconsin football first half grades: B1G Championship formative assessment


NCAA Football: Big Ten Championship-Ohio State vs Wisconsin Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

As the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers (10-2 overall, 7-2 B1G) head into halftime with a __________ the No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes (12-0 overall, 9-0 B1G).

Let’s take a quick look at the first half grades. We will be back with a full set of grades at the end of it, but this first half was too good to not grade.

Offense - A+

Jack Coan was sensational in the first two quarters, throwing for 100 yards and running for 33 yards on four attempts including two touchdowns.

Of course, Jonathan Taylor seems to have solved his OSU curse, as he added 135 first half yards on the ground including this invigorating opening touchdown.

The first half was highlighted by Taylor’s huge answer to an Ohio State touchdown, as he ran for 45 yards the play after Ohio State’s touchdown. A few plays later, Jack Coan hit Quintez Cephus for 24 yards to take Wisconsin to the OSU half yard line.

With no timeouts remaining, Coan snuck into the endzone to give Wisconsin a lead.

In the first half, Wisconsin had incredible success on obvious passing situations, which is one of the principles of an upset I wrote about yesterday.

Defense - A+

The Badgers’ defense has been flying around the field, creating an excellent pass rush and a solid rushing defense. The slight limitations on Justin Fields’ running ability combined with a fresh game plan seems to be enough.

Wisconsin held OSU to a mere touchdown, sacked Fields a ton, and was extremely successful on third down.

The defense withstood a fake punt in the second quarter by forcing a turnover on the Justin Fields fumble in the red zone.

However, with the first half drawing to a close, the defense started to buckle a little giving up a long touchdown drive on the following OSU possession.

Special Teams - C+

Wisconsin gave up a fake punt that sparked a long Ohio State drive that eventually failed due to turnover.

Anthony Lotti was pretty good, averaging 37.5 yards on two punts.

Coaching - A+

On the Fox broadcast, they said Ryan Day told the team they needed to accelerate to the finish line.

When I heard that, I said, “that’s not the message you want to send to your team ahead of a conference championship game.”

You shouldn’t have to talk your team into getting hyped for a championship game.

In contrast, Paul Chryst and Jim Leonhard had Wisconsin completely prepared both on offense and defense heading into the game. Wisconsin’s execution and game plan have been as good as it gets.

Now that we turn to the second half, buckle up. Ohio State will certainly make some adjustments and come out swinging. Can Wisconsin keep the pressure up and win the B1G championship game???