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Grading Wisconsin’s win over Iowa

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The Badgers made a statement to the Big Ten on Saturday.

NCAA Football: Iowa 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: B

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

Rationale:

Wisconsin did what they needed to do to win this football game offensively. They took the easy stuff, they didn’t turn it over, and ran the dang football, buddy.

Graham Mertz, early on, looked like a completely new quarterback, but as the game scenario changed, he at times looked disjointed. However, he avoided the big mistake, and as long as he can continue to do that he’ll continue to develop and improve as he gains more experience.

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

The passing game either looks completely competent or it looks like Mertz is trying to throw into a defense with 15 players on it. Wisconsin pass catchers have struggled to separate consistently, and that’s still the case, but wasn’t an issue today.

The offensive line, especially early, looked to be more physical and importantly avoided the big negative plays. Iowa is still one of the more sound and solid defenses in the country, so Wisconsin didn’t run for a million yards, but did pretty well considering the opponent. Chez Mellusi was slowed down quite a bit today, but Braelon Allen picked up the running game with 100 plus yards rushing yet again.

Defense: A

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

Rationale:

I mean, this defense is incredible. Iowa’s offense is far from a juggernaut, but to hold any FBS team to one first down in a half is impressive. All facets of the Badgers’ defense are humming right now, allowing them to be as aggressive or conservative as needed given the situation, without sacrificing production or disruption.

Wisconsin had six more sacks today, from multiple guys. The pass rush was able to be extremely aggressive because Iowa was unable to do anything on first downs. The run defense was suffocating, and allowed Jim Leonhard to dial up some of the good stuff, which lets Wisconsin play fast and loose.

Leo Chenal is also playing like a top linebacker in the country right now. He’s been as good as anyone over these past two or three weeks.

Special Teams: B-

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

Rationale:

The best thing special teams can be for a football team is non-descript, and that was the case for Wisconsin today.

Collin Larsh made his two field goals, there were no shanked punts, no bad snaps, and nothing out of the ordinary. Other than a couple decent returns from Iowa, the coverage was solid, and set up good situations for the Wisconsin offense and defense.

Coaching: B+

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

Rationale:

I was impressed with how Chryst called the opening script and got Mertz settled in and in a rhythm early. The game, fortunately for the Badgers, was essentially done once the Badgers got up two scores, but the play calling, to me, was a bit better this week and allowed Wisconsin to maintain some semblance of balance.

Overall grade: A-

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

Rationale:

Wisconsin dominated this game, though it was as much their effectiveness as it was a wreck by the Hawkeyes. Iowa should have never been ranked as highly as No. 2 or even No. 9, but they’re certainly not as putrid of a team as they looked on Saturday.

Wisconsin didn’t do anything super extraordinary, they just didn’t beat themselves, which was essentially all Iowa did, was beat themselves. Mertz was fine, the run game was good enough, and the defense is absolutely vicious.

Wisconsin now controls their own destiny in the Big Ten West, and a spot in Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game.

On, Wisconsin.