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Grading Wisconsin’s win over Army

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Wisconsin won a game that was as beautifully flawed as everyone expected it to be.

NCAA Football: Army 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

Offense: C+

QB: C
O-line: B
RB/FB: B+
WR/TE: B-

Rationale:

Wisconsin did enough to win the game - they had the fumble early, but put together two scoring drives and were opportunistic in the fourth quarter to go ahead by two scores and put the game out of reach.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 16 Army at Wisconsin Photo by Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Graham Mertz wasn’t spectacular, but did enough to win the game and more importantly, not lose it for the Badgers. He started off well, and faded a bit as the game went on, but used his legs for two touchdowns as well as some opportune scrambles to move the chains and sustain drives for the Badgers.

Defense: B+

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

Rationale:

In what is one of the more unorthodox Badger games in recent memory, for the most part the Badger defense was as suffocating as we’ve come to expect from them, with a few exceptions, which is expected given the unique nature of the Army offense.

There was no real pass rush to speak of, but Army threw the ball less than 10 times. Coverage is tough against option teams because they have to be so run-centric at all times and Army hit two big plays through the air, with one setting up a late touchdown.

The run defense was phenomenal, only allowing a couple chunk runs, which is more remarkable considering all Army does is run the ball. For the most part, however, Wisconsin was as advertised on defense.

Special Teams: B-

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

Rationale:

The Badgers had a PAT blocked, but for the most part everything was fine. They recovered the onside kick late in the game, and there was little in the way of return opportunities.

Punting was huge, in particular Connor Schlichting, who had a big pooch punt, which led to the sack fumble and the third touchdown for the Badgers. Special Teams did their job, which is more than we can always say about this unit.

Coaching: B-

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

Rationale:

This is probably a bit of a boring read, but the theme here is the same. Wisconsin didn’t beat themselves. Paul Chryst set up Graham Mertz to get comfortable and settle into a rhythm and leaned on the running game to carry them through.

I thought the offense had a lot more of an identity these past two weeks than it did during the earlier struggles, and maybe some simplicity has forced Wisconsin to go back to basics, which is fine with me.

Defensively, Jim Leonhard is a stud. We all knew that, but it bears repeating on a regular basis.

Overall grade: C-

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

Rationale:

Wisconsin knew they were going to be in a dogfight with limited possessions and they played it that way.

They didn’t do much in the second half, but didn’t need to. They controlled the game in the first half and did enough to close it out. Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi did enough to control the game on offense, and are quickly becoming the identity of the offense. If Wisconsin has to, they will revert to grinding games out and winning ugly.

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

Wisconsin didn’t lose themselves this game, which is more than what we can say about the Notre Dame and Penn State games earlier this season, and it’s a step in the right direction. Playing within themselves is something Wisconsin was always lauded for, and it seemed they got out of that briefly earlier in the year.

There’s a lot going on with the team right now, but it’s pretty clear they’re fighting through it together, which is all you can really ask for. They’ll be just fine. Wisconsin won’t make the CFP, and probably won’t make the B1GCG, but they’ll be just fine.