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Tom Oates: Grading Wisconsin Badgers' performance in shutout of Michigan State Spartans
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Tom Oates: Grading Wisconsin Badgers' performance in shutout of Michigan State Spartans

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Zack Baun - UW vs. Michigan State

Wisconsin linebacker Zack Baun celebrates a 34-yard interception for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Badgers' 38-0 win over the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. 

Wisconsin State Journal columnist Tom Oates grades the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers' play in their 38-0 win over the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.

Offense: B-plus

The Spartans defense had a bull's-eye on Jonathan Taylor, yet he managed 80 rushing and 22 receiving yards. Third down? Fourth down? Jack Coan had it handled. Quintez Cephus got his left hand, right hand and then both hands on the ball for a circus touchdown catch. Big game for Jake Ferguson, even if he did trip over the 10-yard line.

Defense: A

UW stuffed the run and had tight coverage on the wide receivers, leaving quarterback Brian Lewerke with few options. No sacks for Zack Baun, but a pick-six will do just fine. Chris Orr has a great feel for delayed blitzes. When Michigan State finally got to UW territory, Orr and Isaiahh Loudermilk ended things with back-to-back sacks.

Special teams: C-plus

UW won the toss, took the ball and Aron Cruickshank returned the kickoff 38 yards. Don't you love it when a plan comes together? The Badgers were fooled badly on a fake punt, resulting in Michigan State's longest gain of the day. Zach Hintze had six touchbacks on seven kickoffs and made the tackle on the one that didn't reach the end zone.

Coaching: A-minus

Paul Chryst was 2-for-2 on fourth-down conversion plays in the first half. He called for play-action on fourth-and-2 at the 28 and got Ferguson all alone behind the defense, then used motion to get A.J. Taylor open for a slant on fourth-and-5 at the 34. Forget about points, Jim Leonhard's defense doesn't like to give up first downs.

Overall: A-minus

You can't lose if you don't let the other guy score and Michigan State became UW's fourth shutout victim in six games. That said, UW got offense from players other than Jonathan Taylor, which bodes well for the future. In a span of a few weeks, UW led Michigan 35-0 and Michigan State 38-0. If that doesn't send a message, nothing will.

Contact Tom Oates at toates@madison.com.

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