It was not a good day for Wisconsin Football. In what was the biggest game of the season to date, the Badgers put up an embarrassing performance at home and lost to the Iowa Hawkeyes 15-6. Despite out-gaining the Hawkeyes 332-227 and and allowing 37 yards in the air, Wisconsin committed two late turnovers and was 2-17 on third down.
The loss drops Wisconsin to 4-2 on the season and 2-1 in Big Ten play. Worse yet, Iowa now has the drivers seat to win the Big Ten West, Here are the key takeaways from today’s brutal loss.
Tory Taylor Was the MVP of the Game
Not often is a punter considered the MVP of a game, but Iowa punter Tory Taylor was just that. Already known as the best punter in the country, Taylor bailed the Iowa offense out with some massive punts. Two of his punts today were 62 and 60 yards. Iowa does not win this game without him.
Chimere Dike also struggled returning punts. He muffed a punt and had it recover it at the six yard line. That took away almost 10 yards. As a team, Wisconsin Football was sloppy in the return game with multiple holding calls that resulted in the offense starting drives inside the 10 yard line. These games matter from a special teams perspective. Iowa was better on special teams today.
The Wisconsin Football Offensive Line Struggled Again
No doubt there was going to be growing pains everywhere on the offensive side this year. On the line, a majority of the starters were Paul Chryst recruits. It’s a brand new offense with more tempo and shotgun.
However, this unit has been underwhelming a majority of the year. Tanor Bortolini, who is better at guard, has started at center all year because of the Jake Renfroe injury. His snaps are too slow in the shotgun and it’s disrupting the timing of the play. Add in the lack of accuracy of the snaps at times and it has been an issue all season.
It was also a rough day for tackles Riley Mahlmann and Jack Nelson. Back to back drives in the second half Mahlmann let the edge rusher go. One resulted in a safety and the the other a sack. Nelson, who is arguably the best offensive lineman on this Wisconsin Football team, was guilty of a false start and continues to struggle this year.
The Wisconsin Football Offense Lacks an Overall Identity
It’s going to take some time for offensive coordinator Phil Longo to get this right on offense. Most of these players are not use the uptempo offense. As Luke Fickell said after the Washington State loss, there’s more than enough talent on this roster to compete.
The reason I am hard on the offense is that Fickell wanted to compete now. And he’s right. There is a lot of talent on this offense. There is no reason, despite a fantastic Iowa defense, that this unit could only muster up six points. I know the Tanner Mordecai injury is one thing, but it was ugly even when he was in the game. I don’t want to take anything away from Iowa’s defense. They were dominant and they deserved to win.
It seems as if Longo wants to be a pass first offense and I don’t blame him. However, a majority of players on this offense have a run first background. If you want to compete right away, you have to do what your players are comfortable with. Today, the Badgers got away from the run after it worked on the first drive. It followed up with six straight incompeltions. It’s not fair to throw your defense out there right away after they got stops. I like what Longo will be for this team, but he has to figure what works and stick with it.
The Wisconsin Football Path to Indianapolis is Slim
Wisconsin is only one game back of Iowa because of the head-to-head match-up. With a date against Ohio State in two weeks the Badgers will likely have two conference loses come November. Assuming that’s the case, they would now need Iowa to go at least 3-2 in their last five games for that to happen along with winning the rest of their games. The tough part? Iowa will be favored I assume in all their remaining games.
This could get even worse if Tanner Mordecai is out for a long period of time, We don’t know the extension of the injury, but he was seen in a sling in the second half on his right shoulder. Redshirt freshman Brayden Locke took over in the second half. We will see if he gets the nod against Illinois next week.
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