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Grading Wisconsin’s 61-0 thrashing of Central Michigan

No need to grade on a curve today!

NCAA Football: Central Michigan 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

Another week, another crushing shutout served by the Wisconsin Badgers. In a stat you are probably aware of, Wisconsin is outscoring opponents 110-0 so far in this young season.

Hard to complain as Wisconsin ran away with this one 61-0 over Central Michigan.

It’s also hard to grade. Central Michigan is in a clearly much lower tier than the Badgers, and the Chippewas made the mistake of giving Wisconsin, favored by well over 30 points, bulletin board material.

To accomplish the task of grading such a blowout, I ask, “would a top-5 team be happy with this performance?”

And the answer is, for most aspects of this game, yes.

Offense: A

O-line: B+


Jack Coan was excellent. He was in complete control of the game, distributed the ball evenly, and went through is progressions very well. Even against weak competition, his passing line of 26 of 33 for 363 yards and 3 TD is one of the best days for a QB in program history.

Oh, and don’t forget Graham Mertz led the Badgers down the field for a touchdown on his first and only drive of his young collegiate career.

The receiving corps was also excellent. They found the gaps in CMU’s zone coverage and gave Coan plenty of options. Further, Quintez Cephus flexed his big-play skills with a pair of long touchdowns on go routes.

Jonathan Taylor, while not putting up gaudy rushing yards, found the end zone four times. Even though the stats were not eye-popping, he was still clearly the best player on the field. And that means something when the QB threw for 363.

The offensive line played well, but may have been the weakest part of the offense.

Defense: A

Pass rush: A
Pass coverage: A
Run defense: A


That’s two shutouts in a row, and the defense is officially back. Wisconsin recorded five tackles for loss, and Jack Sanborn put things away early with a huge interception.

Special Teams: B-

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


The safety was a nice notch in the special teams’ belt, but it was more of an unforced error by CMU. Anthony Lotti barely had to punt, but he did shank one. Similarly, kickoff specialist Zach Hintze had another good game but made an uncharacteristic error and seemingly shanked a kickoff.

However, Hintze was there to make a tackle that probably kept the shutout in tact.

Collin Larsh is finally off the schneid after hitting a short field goal. He missed a 50+ yard attempt to close the first half, however.

Coaching: B

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


Paul Chryst got his team ready to play a weak team, and the Badgers perfectly executed the game plan of scoring a bajillion points and giving up none.

Overall grade: A

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


Wisconsin again dominated from start to finish while also hitting its fair share of explosive plays. These include the two Cephus touchdowns and the Sanborn interception. Again, the Badgers were very disciplined and avoided penalties for the most part.

I don’t think Wisconsin is one of the best five teams in the country, but it has played like it could be. The review weeks of the semester are over now, and Chryst and company turn their attention to Michigan in two weeks.

Bonus grades

Central Michigan Coaching Staff: F

Referees: D+

They weren’t bad for the most part, but they really struggled to figure out what to call after the CMU muffed punt. Then they called it a touchback on accident, which confused everyone at Camp Randall.

Dr. Corey Pompey: B

The band sounded really good, and I thought Pompey did a lovely job in his debut as band director. I think he has some room to grow, but he kept the familiar while also adding his own flair. I want to get a beer with this guy.

Weather: A

It was great—low 70s, cloudy, with a light breeze.

Kent State Athletic Department: F

Are you kidding me?

The dude in lot 60 who confused a Camaro for a Ferrari: D+

(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