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UW vs. Kent State

Wisconsin linebacker Jack Sanborn, right, and defensive end Garrett Rand bring down Kent State quarterback Dustin Crum for no gain in the third quarter of the Badgers' shutout of the Golden Flashes on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.

Wisconsin State Journal columnist Tom Oates grades the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers' play in their 48-0 win over the Kent State Golden Flashes on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.

Offense: A

Kent State's defense was overmatched against Jonathan Taylor. He had 186 yards rushing, 29 yards receiving and five touchdowns despite calling it a day after the first two plays of the second half. Jack Coan was supremely efficient and Graham Mertz gave fans a glimpse of the future. Heck of a touchdown catch, Jake Ferguson.

Defense: A

UW pitched a shutout for the third time in five games and allowed only 124 yards. The Badgers had six sacks in the first half — three by Zack Baun, two by Chris Orr — and ended with nine for the game. Baun was the only returning starter at linebacker, but he, Orr, Jack Sanborn and Noah Burks have become a stifling foursome.

Special teams: B

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Zach Hintze had touchbacks on seven of his eight kickoffs. On the short one, Kent State was limited to a 10-yard return. Collin Larsh hit the upright on a failed extra-point attempt. Nakia Watson took a short kickoff back 28 yards. UW didn't punt until 4 minutes remained and Connor Allen, not Anthony Lotti, did the honors.

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Coaching: A

Kent State expected Taylor but Paul Chryst kept throwing on first down. Coan was 6-for-9 for 95 yards on first down in the first half. Kent State's offense is built on movement and deception, but UW never cracked. Jim Leonhard kept it simple, playing almost exclusively nickel and reducing the chance for breakdowns.

Overall: A-minus

The Badgers were expected to dominate the Golden Flashes and that's exactly what they did. The offense had seven scoring drives of 60 yards or more. The defense allowed Kent State in UW territory only three times and no closer than the 20. The preliminaries are over, but the Badgers are going back into Big Ten play on a roll.

Bucky!

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Contact Tom Oates at toates@madison.com.

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