Last week Wisconsin came out in Chicago and put together quite a poor performance, but the end result looks a lot worse than it was. Wisconsin was WINNING the game to start the fourth quarter, but a special team's touchdown and two pick-sixes made the margin look like a blowout.
It was still embarrassing, to say the least, but now that game has to be behind you because the schedule does not get any easier as the No. 14 ranked Michigan Wolverines enter Camp Randall Stadium. If Wisconsin football wants to turn this thing around, it has to start right here, and once again the Badgers will be faced with a tough test in terms of opponent, AND not beating themselves.
Here’s what Wisconsin needs to do to pick up a much-needed W against the Wolverines.
Make the damn quarterback beat you
This contest will feature two sides with dominating units at this point in the season. Coming into this weekend Wisconsin ranks as the top run defense in the country, allowing just 23 yards per game and one rushing touchdown. This unit has been fantastic. On the other side, Michigan enters this game with one of the top rushing offenses in the country, ranking No. 5 in the nation with 290 yards per game on the ground.
Something’s gotta give here, but I can pretty confidently say the Badger run defense is not going to be the unit that does. Michigan has had a good ground game, but they have not faced a run defense like this yet. Last week, they played a good front seven in Rutgers (No. 39 in rush defense) and the numbers came back down to earth, picking up just 112 yards on the ground.
If Wisconsin is able to stuff the run the way I think they will Michigan will be forced to win the game on the arm of their quarterback, something they have not had to do yet. So far this year Cade McNamara has been a game manager, completing 62% of his passes and taking care of the football by not throwing any interceptions.
I believe that Wisconsin will take away the run and make McNamara be the guy to win the game for them. If you’re able to do that, I like your chances to stay in the game...but you’ve still got the great equalizer of Wisconsin’s offense having to play.
Hang onto the damn ball
As I said above, due to the rules of football, Wisconsin will be forced to play offense. Not fair, in my opinion. The offense so far this season has flat-out stunk in a lot of ways. However, it’s one thing to be poor in execution, but it’s another thing completely to set up other units for failure by turning over the football.
If you look at Michigan’s season, they have gotten to 4-0 by simply running the ball, playing defense, and taking care of the football. They are the ONLY TEAM in the country to not turn the football over yet. Zero fumbles and zero interceptions. That is impressive. The same can’t be said for Wisconsin who ranks No. 116 in turnovers lost with nine. Those turnovers have lost the game for the Badgers, plain and simple.
I know the fourth quarter last week was horrendous, but the Badgers were WINNING to start it. If Wisconsin can simply keep the ball in their hands and just punt it away rather than turn it over you probably still have a fighting chance in this game, but if you’re going to just give the ball away again and again you’re setting the defense up for failure and wasting a dominating unit.
Have some damn pride
Last week the fourth quarter was a travesty to everyone who is a part of Wisconsin football. After that game, players were apologizing and saying that they were flat out embarrassed by the result. That stings, but hopefully, it’s a serious wake-up call to this team because, despite the bleakness, the Badgers can still turn this thing around or at least give it a shot.
Yes, Wisconsin has two losses, but they still can make a run at a Big Ten West title but you’ve gotta turn it around right here. If you’re embarrassed by the effort you put out last week the only way to fix it is to turn around and play better the next time out in front of your home fans.
Best comments from #Badgers came from S Collin Wilder/TB Chez Mellusi. Wilder said the players need to apologize to all alums. Said it was an embarrassing finish. Said the finish was atrocious. Mellusi said game was within reach. "That shit is embarrassing."— Jeff Potrykus (@jaypo1961) September 25, 2021
That brings me to my next point. This game is in Camp Randall Stadium and will be Michigan’s first road trip of the season. The Wolverines have jumped out to 4-0 but each game has been in the comfort of the Big House. That same luxury won’t be afforded them this week.
If Wisconsin wants to quiet the doubters they need to have some pride and come out and defend their home turf. Barry Alvarez will be honored at the game so you know the crowd will be even more lively. if you want to turn this thing around, here’s your chance to right the ship and quiet some of the naysayers, at least for now.