Battling through key injuries to Braelon Allen and Chimere Dike, the Badgers just didn’t have enough offensive firepower, although their defense mustered together an impressive performance to keep Wisconsin in it.
Here are the offensive grades for the Badgers against Ohio State.
When you look at the stat sheet, it may not seem that pretty for Braedyn Locke, who completed 18/39 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown.
But, there is much-needed context attributed to it, as Locke had a few crucial drops from receivers, including some on third downs, while the playcalling didn’t do him favors in certain situations, as the Badgers went away from the run early.
But, Locke did miss high a few times, while missing with timing on another throw to the outside, killing some drives.
The grade gets boosted due to Locke’s best drive of the game, Wisconsin’s seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, where he took a quarterback draw 29 yards, completed a pass to Bryson Green for 26 yards, and fired a 16-yard pass to Will Pauling after stepping up for the touchdown.
Running Backs: D+
It was a tough start for the Badgers on the ground, as Braelon Allen coughed up a fumble on each of the first two possessions, although only one was lost.
Still, despite that, it was clear that the Badgers were going to need a balanced approach to win this game, which is why I wasn’t pleased with offensive coordinator Phil Longo’s choice to go pass-heavy after those issues. You need to trust your players in big-time situations.
Allen finished the first half with 10 carries for 50 yards, but an injury on the final offensive play kept him out for the entire second half.
His backup, Jackson Acker, had just 34 yards on nine carries in a tough day on the ground.
In a game where contributions were much needed, there wasn’t enough from the running backs in this one.
Wide Receivers: C-
Like I said above, there were some crucial drops by Badgers receivers, including ones on third down from Skyler Bell and Will Pauling, with the latter being a close one.
There were also some major plays, as Bryson Green broke a number of tackles on a physical 27-yard catch-and-run, with head coach Luke Fickell noting the team needs to target him more after the game.
Will Pauling was the top receiver once again with four catches for 51 yards and a touchdown on a team-high nine targets.
The receivers were the bread and butter of the game for the Badgers, but it was a bag of mixed results.
Tight Ends: D
As the weeks have gone on and the Badgers have begun to figure out their personnel, it’s been less and less of the tight ends in the passing game and more four-receiver sets.
That was the case on Saturday, as no targets went to tight ends, despite 39 dropbacks from Braedyn Locke and seven different players seeing action.
They still have a prominent role in the offense as blockers, but their receiving impact has clearly diminished, and the run game was a much smaller factor on Saturday.
Offensive Line: C+
I honestly thought the offensive line didn’t play as bad as many assumed on Saturday.
To be frank, Ohio State purely has more talent along their defensive front than the Badgers do with their offensive line, given they have J.T. Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer, among others.
But, the Badgers were able to hold up, giving up just two sacks, while there was enough time for Braedyn Locke to throw, and the quarterback improvised when needed.
I do think Wisconsin should’ve relied more on the run, even with the mistakes, early, which could’ve presented more opportunities to be physical at the line of scrimmage, but this was always going to be a hard-fought game, and I thought this unit came to play with their effort.