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Wisconsin Football: Three Things We Learned from Illinois and beyond

What a crazy few days.

Illinois v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

Good God that was painful. First losing to former Badger coach Brett Bielema, to realize it’s the worst loss to Illinois since 1988 (I wasn’t even born yet), and then to watch Paul Chryst get terminated? Sheesh. Chryst gave Wisconsin some phenomenal years, but the game passed him by, and he couldn’t keep up with the new order of the NCAA’s NIL and adapting offenses. We wish him the best of luck and thank him for his dedication to his alma mater.

The offense can’t get any momentum

Graham Mertz threw two interceptions before the first half was even over and was sacked five times. The Illini scored 17 points off their 34 off turnovers. Yes, half their points were directly off of Badger mistakes. I can’t even get mad, that's just impressive. We were never even in the game really. We were out Wisconsin’ed by one of the most successful Badger coaches to lead here in Madison.

Illinois v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

Wisconsin was absolutely shut down on offense. In fact, it was so bad the Badgers couldn’t even get double-digit success on the ground. Are you sitting down? They rushed for two. That’s two yards. As in more than one yard but less than three yards. That’s not how this is ever supposed to work. For context, Wisconsin rushed for 319 yards last season against Illinois. Mertz had a QBR of 30.4...Yikes! Braelon Allen couldn’t get anything going. The line looked weak and out-maneuvered. The receivers and ends couldn’t find any space to get open.

The entire offense is lost, and I don’t know that coordinator Bobby Engram or anyone can help them find something that works before the season ends.

It’s not just the offense underperforming

If you thought the offense was bad, the defense wasn’t much better. The Badgers gave up 129 yards on the ground and 167 through the air...TO ILLINOIS! I know they’re better than last year. But this Badger team should be better too. The defense has always been reliable going back the previous 5 years. This year Wisconsin looks like it can’t stop anything that comes down the field. It’s not so much that the defense is bad as much as it’s about how They are just no longer looking elite.

To be fair, as we mentioned earlier the Illini scored half their points against the Badgers off turnovers. The defense was almost set up to fail. But it shouldn’t be this bad. Ohio State and Illinois are good programs this year. But this defense should be able to prevent these types of numbers from getting put up in back-to-back weeks. Whatever game plan was put together didn’t do anything in the way of stopping or slowing down Illinois.

Things really are bad

Well, Wisconsin twitter you got your wish, Chryst is gone. So now what? Leonard? Things aren’t looking that good in his department this year either. Even if he fails to win a game as head coach the rest of the season, I also don’t think it would be fair to write him off as having failed this experiment by the Wisconsin Athletic Department. He hasn’t been given a fair chance to build an identity and plan over an offseason.

Illinois v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

But who are we going to get if Leonard doesn’t work out? I think many fans agree it’s Leonard’s to lose, right? Who else is being floated? the most mentioned name that’s coming up is Wisconsin native and former Wisconsin-Whitewater Head Coach/Current Kansas Coach Lance Leipold. He’s been successful at every program at every level of the college football tiers. Winning National Championships with Whitewater, Conference Titles with Buffalo, and bringing Kansas into the national spotlight.

It’s bad though. How dark will it get before we’re back to where we’re supposed to be? Hopefully, this isn’t the start of a revolving door. I’m hoping the Athletic Department has at least some sort of structured plan in place for not just who will be in charge but a plan to maintain and improve on what positives are already there, albeit, not a lot to find right now.