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Grading Wisconsin’s crushing victory over Michigan

Another excellent performance for the 3-0 Badgers.

@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

The No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers brushed aside the No. 11 Michigan Wolverines in a convincing 35-14 victory. For the third straight game, Wisconsin dominated to the point that it made the opponent look atrocious. Here are the grades for Bucky’s performance on Saturday afternoon at Camp Randall. Fair warning, I saw this game from the stands without the benefit of nice TV angles. If there is something I missed, please point it out!

Offense: A

O-line: A+


Once again, Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor proved to be the best player on the field. Putting up 203 yards on 23 carries against this Michigan defense is unbelievable. Taylor wasn’t the only one to contribute from the RB position. The unit did a good job in pass protection and receiving. In fact, Garrett Groshek lead the team in receiving yards with 38.

Considering the competition, and assuming that Michigan’s D is indeed a top-tier defense, the offensive line did a great job in both pass protection and run blocking. This was one of the best offensive line performances I can remember since the 2010 victory over Ohio State when it seemed like John Clay was running seven yards every play without getting touched.

Jack Coan was pretty good, and put in the most Wisconsin QB performance ever, completing 13 of 16 passes for 128 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. Well, it would have been the most Wisconsin QB performance ever if not for a Darrell Bevell-esque 25-yard touchdown run.

The wide receivers were barely needed in this one except for a huge fourth down conversion to Quintez Cephus. The unit seemed to do a good job blocking on screens and rushes.

Defense: A

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


I don’t think this defense has been tested yet given Michigan’s offense was a mess before entering Camp Randall today. Michigan was held to 2.1 yards per carry, and Zach Charbonnet was a non-factor.

Even when things went bad for the defense in the first 40 minutes, they went well. On Michigan’s first play, down seven, it broke loose for a long pass play. However, Faion Hicks hustled and caught Ronnie Bell from behind to keep Michigan out of the end-zone. A few plays later, and the Badgers forced a turnover to keep the shutout streak alive and squash Michigan’s momentum.

Losing Eric Burrell and Reggie Pearson in the third quarter allowed Michigan’s wide receiver corps to get some garbage time stats.I will get to the targeting calls later.

In the end, a No. 11 Michigan team came to down and didn’t score any points until it was down by 35 points. That is an “A”-level defensive effort.

Special Teams: C+

Kicking: C-
Punting: B
Returning: C+
Coverage: C-


Special teams didn’t really factor into this one. Collin Larsh missed another field goal, but it was a long one at 48 yards and it hit the upright.

Anthony Lotti had a nice game averaging 46.5 yards, and Jack Dunn also played pretty well. He was able to get 5-10 yards on most returns, which I will take. However, Dunn almost made a significant mistake by not fair-catching a punt at the 10(ish) yard line, and the punt was downed at the Wisconsin one yard line. Fortunately for the Badgers, this was undone by a Michigan illegal formation penalty.

I’m not sure where to incorporate the Michigan onside kick into the grades, so I put it under coverage. Otherwise, Coverage would have been a B.

Coaching: A

Strategy: A+
Adjustments: B
Play-calling: A


Paul Chryst has reached another level. His team was ready for Michigan in every conceivable way. He went for it on fourth down at the right times, and he dialed up the right play every time. The playbook was wide open, and he even called a speed option.

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

Paul Chryst and the entire staff deserves serious credit for the start to this season and a memorable victory.

Overall grade: A

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


The last 18 minutes of this game was quite frustrating. The Badgers had things pretty well wrapped up, but a pair of targeting ejections really set Wisconsin back. The first targeting call on Burrell was frustrating, but the second one on Pearson was very much correct. Pearson’s hit on Michigan QB Dylan McCaffrey was dangerous for both athletes and unacceptable. It left a foul taste in my mouth and soured an otherwise excellent game day.

Because of that, I dropped Wisconsin’s “penalties & discipline” grade all the way down to C-.

Otherwise, Wisconsin was generally in control of the game, only letting things get weird after losing both safeties. The Badgers forced several key turnovers and had some big plays on offense.

Bonus grades

Stripe-out: B

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

Bob’s secret parking spot: A-

Weather: B-

Michigan coaching staff: F

I don’t know about you, but I am super excited to watch Michigan Podcast this week. Honestly, I love the show and try to listen to some of it every week. Steve Deace is really entertaining. However, I really think he will take the show to another level this week. You just need to skip the two-minute opening sequence.

(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