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Grading Wisconsin’s bulldozing of Northwestern

The Badgers started slowly, but stepped on the gas and dominated the Wildcats up and down the field.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 13 Northwestern at Wisconsin Photo by Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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+


The offense looked really good on Saturday. Graham Mertz looked like the QB we all want him to be (I used the words SHARP and DEALING, both in all caps, in my game notes) and outside of the interception he threw in the endzone at the of the first half...was just about perfect.

Braelon Allen is an unstoppable killing machine and I love watching him run the football. If there were questions as to why Brady Schipper received so many more snaps than Julius Davis or Jackson Acker, I think the latter two fumbling the ball away on consecutive possessions answered that.

The offensive line was really solid, outside of a number of false starts, and the receivers caught all the balls they should and helped Mertz have one of his better career games.

Defense: A

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


Owen said it last week and I’ll say it this week too: what else is there to say about this defense? They are incredible and we are lucky to get to watch them play every week. Even when they gave up the long opening drive to NU, you just KNEW that someone was going to make a play and, lo and behold, there was Caesar Williams making a pick in the endzone.

When the offense turned the ball over or when a random fumble bounces right to a different NU player who then runs it nearly 50 yards into the redzone, you just KNEW that the ‘Cats still weren’t going to score.

Leo Chenal and Jack Sanborn were everywhere, per usual, and even guys like Jordan Turner (second straight game with an interception) were making plays when given the chance.

Special Teams: C+

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


Not a whole lot to report here. Collin Larsh made all of his extra points. Andy Vujnovich looked solid and no one did anything silly on coverage or while returning the ball. No notes, let’s never discuss the special teams again.

Coaching: B+

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


Paul Chryst called a pretty good game and Mertz made a bunch of correct reads on passing plays, making the play calls look even better. The fourth down decisions by Chryst were maddening to be sure, but they didn’t end up having any effect on the game at all. Hopefully he was taking into account how inept Northwestern is on offense while making those calls.

Taking the backups out and putting the starters back in was a fine choice. You should hold all of the players to the same standard and the second string offense was making laughable mistakes. Get their asses outta there!

Overall grade: B+

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


The Badgers had five (!!!!!) false start penalties on five different players. That is embarrassing. Wisconsin also had two personal foul penalties after making interceptions which, again, didn’t have any effect during this game but could in a more competitive one. This will surely be a point of emphasis this week in practice.