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Grading No. 13 Wisconsin’s absolute destruction of a hapless Michigan team

The Badgers steamrolled the Wolverines from the opening kick and didn’t let off the gas until the game was over.

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Michigan Rick Osentoski-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

Offense: B+

QB: B-
O-line: A-


The Badgers and QB Graham Mertz did not air it out like they did in Week 1 against Illinois, and Mertz had a more pedestrian stat line of 12-of-22 for 127 yards and two touchdowns. However, his completion percentage was hampered by a couple of drops and he still looked poised in the pocket. The reshuffled offensive line (due to COVID-19) looked great and opened up some holes that you could drive a tank through.

Loved seeing freshman WR Chimere Dike out there getting some touches. That kid is gonna be good.

Defense: A-

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


Quite frankly, the Wisconsin defense was excellent on Saturday night. Michigan QB Joe Milton never looked comfortable in the pocket and threw one horrific interception (and another one that wasn’t his fault) before being benched in the second half. Hell, the Badgers only allowed one (1) yard in the entire first quarter!

As a team, Michigan ran for 47 yards on 19 carries (2.5 ypc) and only mustered 10 first downs. Backup QB Cade McNamara came in and lit a spark on one drive, scoring Michigan’s lone touchdown, but only completed one pass after that drive.

The Badgers were fast, swarmed to the ball, forced turnovers and kept the Michigan offense off balance all game. A masterful performance from Jim Leonhard’s unit.

Special Teams: B-

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


Andy Vujnovich had two punts downed inside the 20-yard line, including one at the one-yard line. Stephan Bracey had a nice kick return. Collin Larsh made all seven of his extra points. Michigan looked dangerous on their many kick returns, but maybe they’ve just had a lot of practice returning kicks after being scored on.

Coaching: B+

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


Paul Chryst and Joe Rudolph clearly saw that Michigan was vulnerable and overly aggressive on the edges, given the amount of jet sweeps and reverses they called on Saturday night. They mostly worked every time they were called, which was a lot, and Michigan never really seemed to figure it out. As mentioned above, Leonhard’s defense was great.

Overall grade: B+

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


This one was never in doubt and honestly...Michigan looked uninterested for most of the game. I don’t know what’s going on in Ann Arbor but Jim Harbaugh’s seat is going to be awfully hot the rest of the season. The Badgers looked like the second best team in the conference and will get a chance to assert their West dominance against undefeated Northwestern next weekend in Evanston, Ill.

Bonus grades!

Graham Mertz blocking: A+

Jim Harbaugh’s mask usage: F-

Danny Davis III as a pass catcher: D
Danny Davis III as a jet sweeper: B+