It was terrifying but at least Wisconsin walked away with a W and more importantly the Freedom Trophy. We’re one for two in this trophy SZN. The most important battle has yet to be played but let’s take a look at what we learned after Wisconsin secured this victory.
Mertz did just enough to help secure the win
The entire day Mertz was staring down a scoreless game with nothing but an interception and 39 yards to show for it. Social media was buzzing, again, about the disappointment that this Badger season has produced. Then the 4th quarter came. Over a quarter of his completions, his touchdown, and over half yards on the day, three of eight for 44 yards, happened in that final quarter.
Sure weather had a big impact on the game but Mertz still seemed to be out of his element. I’m not expecting him to play out of his mind but too many of his passes seemed to be made out of a lack of understanding of what the defense was giving him and what the reads showed. There’s still a lot of progress to be made but there’s not much time considering there’s one game left in the regular season.
The Wisconsin rushing attack is as complimentary as ever
.225 yards rushing on the day rushing between the three backs of Allen, Mellussi, and Guerendo. Wisconsin collectively rushed for more as a team than Nebraska’s total yards on the day. The Badgers three-headed monster may not have broken through the goal line but they sure carried the team to the win. It was Mellussi’s most productive game of the year, eating up 98 yards on just under five yards a carry.
Allen was just eight yards short of racking up his seventh 100 yard plus game of the season picking up 92 yards on the day at just over five yards a rush. Allen should be back from his injury in time for next week’s Axe game but it’s reassuring to know that should things go south for Allen again next week these two will be there to step up.
The job is Leonhard’s and he has his work cut out for him
As of Saturday evening, the Wisconsin Badgers have officially posted the opening for the job of head coach. Look, there are a lot of candidates who could theoretically be more than able to take over in Madison and produce success. But we all know that it’s now Leonhard’s job. Six weeks into his takeover of the Badger football program Leonhard has more wins than losses, taken home a rivalry trophy, and Badgers have secured bowl eligibility.
It should also be noted that as long as Leonhard is the guy Wisconsin could secure more than just bowl eligibility and a coach; Wisconsin may have secured its players from being poached. There's also concerns on the recruiting front. Collin Dixon and Jamal Howard both de-committed from the Badgers earlier this week. The Badgers are now working with less than
15 commits. Horrifying! I know the Athletic Director wanted to take his time with this decision but it appears that the damage from not naming Leonhard earlier is already done. While the security of having a spring and summer to prepare for ‘24 will no doubt help Leonhard show if he’s really ready to run this team, the lack of confidence shown by the school has made the job he’ll soon be tasked with much harder. With one more week left Leonhard will hope to build a plan that can help the Badgers win back the Axe; hopefully he can win back some recruits too. On Wisconsin!