The non-conference slate has come and gone with the Badgers finishing off a dominating win on Saturday. What did we learn? Let’s take a look.
Wisconsin’s run game got some things going
While Braelon Allen was held to under 100 yards vs New Mexico State on Saturday, only the third time being held to under 100 as a starter, the Wisconsin Badger's running backs were a dominant cohesive unit vs the Aggies. They ran for a collective 260 yards, 6 touchdowns, and no fumbles on Saturday. Wisconsin football put the run first and established their ground game before opening things up through the air. Three different running backs found the endzone in the Wisconsin win. Allen with three touchdowns, Isaac Guerendo with two, and Chez Mellusi with one. Wisconsin also had four different rushers with yards per gain averaging above five yards.
This was the first time since last season that more than two Badgers scored on the ground on the same day. While it was fun to watch the passing game eventually open up Wisconsin would do its best to stick to this game plan going forward and establish the run to open more things with the pass.
Graham Mertz looked pretty good again, despite some bad reads
New Mexico State is in the bottom quarter of overall defenses in the country. Prior to Saturday, the Aggies had yet to secure an interception on the season. That changed this weekend when Mertz threw a ball into a tight coverage area where it was tipped and subsequently picked off. Look, I know it was tipped and not a true pick but the decision to make the read and put that ball into that position is not something we should still be seeing from Mertz at this point in his career or the season.
However, Let’s look at the positive. Mertz threw for 251 yards while connecting with two different targets, Skyler Bell and Keontez Lewis, for three touchdowns. Minus the two or three poor reads, Mertz had another good day making a good amount of reads to open receivers. The best example of skilled decision-making came early in the third quarter with a 49-yard touchdown pass to Skyler Bell who was free of any coverage jogging into the endzone untouched.
This defense can be elite
I know that New Mexico State did eventually get onto the board but this Badger unit shut them down until the second and third stringers started making rotations into the game. The Badgers scored twice off of defensive turnovers and shut down the Aggies on third down 4 out of 15 times or just under 75%. Wisconsin was also able to hold New Mexico State to under 250 yards total and less than five yards average on both the rush as well as through the air; 4.1 per pass and 3.3 yards per rush. Three games into the season this team's defense is in the top ten in both yards per game and points allowed.