Wisconsin’s football program faced a lot of questions after the firing of Paul Chryst, but they got themselves a home run hire in Luke Fickell from Cincinnati. It should be a fun year of Wisconsin football, assuming that they are able to come together as a team quickly.
Saturday marked the start of a new era in Madison, Wisconsin and it got off to a nervy start. Coming into the game as 28-point favorites, the Badgers couldn’t get out of their way in the first half. Luckily, Wisconsin football was able to pull away in the third quarter on their way to an opening game victory.
Wisconsin Football Beats Buffalo 38-17
“Air Raid” Offense Looks Flat
Not many expected the Badgers to immediately come in and throw for 500 yards and six touchdowns. With that in mind, not many expected to see the offense struggle as much as it did. In the first half, receiver Skyler Bell dropped a sure touchdown pass, Tanner Mordecai looked anxious, and there weren’t many shots taken downfield.
It’s a concerning start for Wisconsin’s offense. While they were able to break the game open late, we saw much of the same stuff last year in their opening night win against Illinois State. Outside of some gamebreaking plays by the talented backfield tandem of Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi, there were not a lot of positives from the offense for most of the game. Once Buffalo’s defense was worn down, the running game opened up, but that’s not something that can be counted on from week to week.
Offensive Grade: C+
Wisconsin Football Defense Still A Concern
Multiple times last year, the secondary for Wisconsin was a major liability. Unfortunately, the Badgers defense left a lot to be desired yet again. Senior safety Kamo’i Latu missed multiple tackles, assignments, and couldn’t come down with an interception. Hunter Wohler looked good, but he had to make more plays than usual due to plenty of missed tackles by the defensive line and linebackers.
Buffalo was held to just 17 points, but any Big Ten offense is going to take advantage if given the opportunities Buffalo had. The Badgers struggled heavily to contain the run and often played too soft of coverage on Buffalo, allowing plenty of quick, easy passes. They will have a big test next week containing Washington State on the road.
Defensive Grade: C-
Week 2 Preview (9/9 @ Washington State)
Next week, the Badgers have an opportunity to get revenge for an embarrassing 17-14 loss at home to Washington State last year. It’ll be a very intriguing matchup as Washington State comes into the season with two new coordinators. Offensively, they welcome 27-year old offensive coordinator Ben Arbuckle. He has served as an assistant coach for just one year at Western Kentucky.
Defensively, they bring in Jeff Schmedding to serve as their defensive coordinator after a brief stint in Auburn. Washington State has phenomenal defensive ends, but doesn’t get much interior pressure. This defense will come and go based on their linebacker play.