Tom Oates grades the No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers' performance in their 49-11 victory over the Michigan Wolverines Saturday night at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Graham Mertz wasn't spectacular this time, but he was solid after a slow start. Mertz can block, too. Pressed into duty, true freshmen Jalen Berger and Chimere Dike added intriguing speed. Danny Davis must hold onto the ball because replay won't save him forever. The reshuffled offensive line was better in its second game.
The defense set the tone by intercepting Joe Milton's first two passes. On the first one, Scott Nelson made the pick but it was Eric Burrell who made the play. Leo Chenal showed some running ability on his 31-yard interception return. Isaiahh Loudermilk came in low to stuff Milton on fourth-and goal from the half-yard line.
Special teams: C-plus
Stephan Bracey showed speed and moves on a 33-yard return of the opening kickoff. The only problem was UW gave up a 43-yarder to Giles Jackson on Michigan's first kickoff return. Transfer punter Andy Vujnovich has been a plus. He buried the Wolverines at the 1-yard line when they were showing signs of life in the second half.
UW's offensive coaches were one step ahead of Michigan all night. For that matter, UW's defensive coaches were, too. After the first interception in Michigan territory, Paul Chryst went for the kill shot with a deep ball to Davis on first down and a reverse to Dike on second down that went for 30 yards. Love the aggressiveness.
Despite a three-week pause in football activities due to a COVID-19 outbreak among players and staff and with 10 key contributors not available for the game, UW was the more motivated, efficient team and walked away with an impressive victory. Michigan was a desperate team, but UW took the Wolverines out of the game early.
Photos: Badgers put Wolverines away early
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