The Wisconsin football team had its first test on Saturday night in a raucous Pullman, Washington. The Badgers were given the chance to exact revenge on the same Cougars team that upset them 17-14 at home last season.
Unfortunately, Wisconsin football couldn’t take advantage. What was supposed to be a close Wisconsin vs Washington State matchup devolved quickly for the Badgers. Washington State’s offense was rolling on all cylinders from the jump and Wisconsin couldn’t slow down Cougars quarterback Cameron Ward. With two rough showings in the first two games of the Luke Fickell era, Wisconsin football will need to rebound quickly for the Big Ten season.
Wisconsin Football Falls to Washington State, 31-22
Offensive Line is a Massive Liability
Last year, one of the biggest problems with the Wisconsin football team was their offensive line. Although analysts are always quick to praise Wisconsin’s offensive line, it was clear it was nowhere near up to par. Against Washington State, the line (especially the left tackle) was completely exposed by the Cougar defensive ends.
Just like last year, the Badgers struggled to run the ball. That was thanks to an offensive line that couldn’t push back the defense. A year has passed since that game and the line looked just as inept. Without much of a push, there were no lanes for Braelon Allen or Chez Mellusi to run. Although they got the passing game going late, they should’ve easily put up more than 22 points against this defense.
Offensive Grade: C-
Wisconsin’s Defense Can’t Produce Pressure
Games are won and lost in the trenches, and the Badgers lost on both fronts. Luke Fickell is a great coaching mind, but there wasn’t a single thing he could do defensively for much of the game. With the Badgers’ line unable to produce pressure, they had to decide between sending a blitz and leaving the passing game open, or sitting back in coverage and giving Cameron Ward all day to throw the ball. While the Badgers’ defense stepped up late, when it mattered, they couldn’t get the job done.
Once again, Washington State is not your normal Big Ten team. Wisconsin will go up against a ton of solid fronts offensively and will need to find a way to win upfront or die trying. The secondary can be filled with all-conference selections, but if opposing quarterbacks have all day in the pocket, the coverage will eventually break down. It’ll be very interesting to see how the Badgers find a way to generate pressure moving forward, because the current group up front is just not getting it done.
Defensive Grade: D+
Week 3 Preview: Georgia Southern vs Wisconsin
Next week, the Badgers have to take out their anger on Georgia Southern. Just like with Buffalo, the Badgers have to show their muscle. Georgia Southern is not up to the standard of the Badgers and they need to get some momentum as they move into the Big Ten season.
Georgia Southern decimated The Citadel, 34-0, in Week 1 before winning a shootout with UAB in Week 2. It’s tough to get much of a read of their talent based on the lack of opposition they’ve faced, but they will certainly come into Madison riding high with no fear. Their offense is led by senior quarterback Davis Brin, who has passed for over 550 yards and four touchdowns this season. If Georgia Southern can keep the pressure off of him, he could do some damage against the Wisconsin secondary.