Badger Musings: Wisconsin’s Offense Goes Silent in Happy Valley
After Saturday’s 22-10 defeat by Penn State, Wisconsin is now a four loss team. It is the first time in the Paul Chryst era that this team lost four games, and the first time Wisconsin reached four losses since 2013. The offense became the major issue on Saturday. Even though Wisconsin’s defense did everything they could to win this game, they could not put together anything sustainable on the other side of the ball. The only reason the Badgers scored seven points was due to Jonathan Taylor breaking off a long run. This is not an encouraging sign for Wisconsin moving past Alex Hornibrook.
Face it, Hornibrook matters this team more than you want to believe – There is no reason Wisconsin should have only had 10 points. Penn State is not the same defense they were last season. Nittany Lions have allowed 21 or more points to Appalachian State, Iowa, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio State, Illinois and Michigan State. Almost all of their games featured a defense that got gashed at some point. It didn’t happen against Wisconsin because Jack Coan could not find an open receiver. He made Wisconsin one-dimensional, and Taylor could only do so much out there.
Impressive outing by Wisconsin’s defense – I’ve been hard on Jim Leonhard in year two, but this was one of the best defensive performance of the year for Wisconsin. They recovered two fumbles, three sacks, seven tackles for losses and one pass deflection. Wisconsin did really well to limit Penn State’s potent offense. If you want to poke holes, their run defense still continues to be a problem as Miles Sanders rushed for nearly 7 yards per carry to the tune of 159 yards. Still, I’d like the aggressive nature of this defense.
Big Ten West dreams are dashed – For the first time ever, Wisconsin or Iowa will not be playing in the Big Ten Championship representing the Big Ten West. That role will belong to Northwestern. Wisconsin likely did not want in knowing they would see Michigan again who beat them up pretty good earlier this year. But now, Wisconsin has to continue to win for better bowl positioning. Badgers are all over the map right now from bowl projections standpoint. They’re likely looking at the third tier of games for Big Ten teams.
Next up: It doesn’t get easier for Wisconsin with a road trip to West Lafayette to play Purdue. Boilermakers are in must-win mode after a shocking blowout loss to Minnesota last week. It’s going to be an awkward week for Purdue with questions about Jeff Brohm potentially going to Louisville after the firing of Bobby Petrino over the weekend. Jury is still out whether Alex Hornibrook will be back for the Badgers.