Wisco Wednesday: I Have Concerns

Everything is different, yet nothing has changed. Run the damn ball.

Wisco Wednesday will have a consistent format for most of the season. I’ll start by looking back at what Wisconsin did the previous week. We might also touch on some other games that are of interest to Badger fans. Then, I’ll look ahead to the upcoming matchup of the week. That’s the plan; let’s see how it goes.

Looking Back: Where was the Air Raid?

Wisconsin 38
Buffalo 17

I think some lists are in order, to sum up what should’ve been an uneventful beatdown of a lesser team.

The bad:

  1. Wisconsin had 3 total pass attempts with over 15 air yards. The forward pass is an abomination.
  2. The 2 Mordecai INTs led to 7 Buffalo points (it should’ve been 10, Buffalo missed a 34 yard field goal after pick #1)
  3. Mordecai went 24/31 for 189 yards. That’s a paltry 6.1 YPA.
  4. Wisconsin had 0 sacks, 0 INT’s, and 0 Forced Fumbles.
  5. Wisconsin had 3 TFLs, Buffalo had 5. This wasn’t a good showing for our OL.
  6. Skyler Bell (WR) dropped the only long ball of the day. It would’ve been a 60 yard TD. 
  7. Jordan Turner (ILB) was ejected for targeting in the 2nd half. 

The Good:

  1. Brealon Allen is still that dude. 17 carries, 141 yards rushing, and 2 TDs.
  2. Chez Mellusi is also that dude? 13 carries, 157 yards rushing, and 2 TDs.
  3. Allen caught 7 passes, that’s new and interesting. (For only 25 yards.)
  4. True freshman Tucker Ashcraft might be our savior in an empty TE room.
  5. Hunter Wohler (S) and Gio Paez (NT) were bright spots on a shaky defense.

Got all that?

So, watching the game one thing became clear by early in the second quarter. Nearly every pass in the “Dairy Raid” was a screen. Screens to the left, screens to the right, screens to Allen; too many freaking screens. And they weren’t working. Only 3 downfield pass attempts make me think Mordecai was terrified of making mistakes, so he only threw screens. AND HE STILL THREW 2 PICKS! Obviously, I am frustrated. The coaching staff must’ve been too, because the second half was different.

In the second half, they went back to the OG Wisconsin principle.

Run the damn ball – and it worked.

Mellusi and Allen are 2 of the best backs in the country. The coaching staff recognized that for Allen by including him in the screen game. But this team could have 10 wins this year by running the ball 50 times per game. It’s those other 2 games that are the problem. That’s the hump Wisco wants to get over. The OSU, Michigan, and Penn State hump. Maybe they will figure out how to throw it. But they better do it soon. 

The defense was uninspiring. Under Jim Leonhard, fans would’ve been hoping for a shutout. Under new management, Mike Tressel, we gave up 17 to a bad team. Clearly, we are missing Herbig, Benton, and Torchio more than expected. But the 2023 group is mostly dudes from 2022. They have to be better. 

Around College Football: Things of Interest to Madison

Graham Mertz was Graham Mertz – with more yards

Mertz failed upwards out of Madison and landed with the Florida Gators. Florida was a 6.5 point underdog on the road at Utah. Utah was without QB1 and QB2. Utah won 24-11.

Utah QB3 Bryson Barnes looked better than Florida QB1 Graham Mertz. 

Utah even gave some snaps to QB4 Nate Johnson, I’d take him over Mertz too.

Mertz threw for over 300 yards for the first time in his entire career. But, turnovers were still an issue with an INT and a Fumble. Mertz was sacked 5 times and appeared to have cinder blocks instead of feet for most of the game.

Nebraska and Minnesota played classic B1G West Football

Good defenses? Bad offenses? We won’t know for a few weeks. 

This game brought football back to the 1940s. 

0-3 at Half.

10-3 Nebraska on top with 2:43 left in the game.

But, Nebraska is undefeated at getting in their own way. 

Minnesota scored a TD on 4th down to make it 10-10. Then Nebraska threw a pick around midfield on the following drive. Minnesota kicked a FG as time expired. And that’s a wrap. The Matt Rhule era starts with yet another 1 score loss for the Cornhuskers.

Purdue Embarrassed the B1G and the B1G West

Purdue paid $1.35 Million for Fresno State to come play a game in West Lafayette. The problem: Fresno State doesn’t suck. 

Purdue lost 35-39, notching the only non-con loss for the B1G in week 1.

Looking Forward: Wisconsin travels out West

  • Odds listed were taken from FanDuel at the time of writing.

Game Preview: (19) Wisconsin at Washington State


Wisconsin -6.5




Martin Stadium – Pullman, Washington

Kickoff Time:

Saturday – 6:30 PM CT

TV Network:


Who are the Washington State Cougars?

2022 Season:

  • Washington State went 7-6 in 2022
  • They lost to Fresno State in the LA Bowl to end the season.
  • Their leading rusher was Wisconsin transfer Nakia Watson
  • They beat the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison, WI despite having 150 less yards, 12 less first downs, going 2/11 on 3rd down, and tying the turnover battle with 3 a piece.

How did the Badgers lose this game last year? Every metric says Wisconsin was better, except the score. Well, there is one area the Badgers were worse. Penalties. Wisconsin had 11 penalties, WSU only had 5. So coaching essentially decided the game. The closer you look, the clearer it becomes that Chryst had to go.

What they expect for the 2023 Season:

Washington State is mostly the same team from last year. Same QB, Cameron Ward, same RB, Nakia Watson, and same HC, Jake Dickert. Everyone should be better with another year of experience. 

WSU lost their best defensive player to the NFL draft. ILB Daiyan Henley was drafted in the 3rd round by the LA Chargers. He was a phenomenal coverage linebacker and will be very difficult to replace.

Washington State is expected to be a very middle of the road team in the Pac-12 in the last year of its existence. Nearly every odds book and media outlet has WSU as the 7th best team in the Pac, but they have the ability to knock off one of the teams above them. 

Washington State is currently 1-0 with a win over Colorado State 50-24.

What to Watch for the Badgers

Jordan Turner Targeting

Jordan Turner getting ejected late in a game that was already decided sucks for Wisconsin. Targeting is a rule, and shots to the head need to be taken seriously and prevented. Turner has to sit out for the 1st half of the WSU game because of a mistake he made in week 1, that hurts. 

On the bright side of a bad situation, the Badgers have 3 starting quality ILBs. Jake Chaney should step in for Turner without missing a beat. If the coaching staff is to be believed: ILB will be fine. 

Please run the ball

Wisconsin ran for 314 yards vs. Buffalo in week 1. Most of that was in the second half when the team realized passing the ball wasn’t working. Wisconsin should be the better team. But “should be” is not “will be.” If passing doesn’t work again, don’t force it. Run the ball, and get out with a W. Work on the passing game vs. Georgia Southern in week 3.

Passing Thoughts

Speaking of passing. We have a very small sample size of Tanner Mordecai, but what I’ve seen is not inspiring. I attended the Spring game when he threw 4 INTs, 3 of which were his first 3 drives (this was widely reported). He appeared gun shy in week 1, maybe that’s why there were so many screens. What was not widely reported at the spring game: redshirt freshman Braedyn Locke looked awesome. He has the QB2 spot on lockdown, and summer practice reports make it sound like he understands every facet of the offense.

If Mordecai struggles for a few more weeks, I’ll be one of the first calling for Locke to start. Mordecai has way more experience, but he hasn’t done anything to make me think he’s additive to the offense right now.

I hope I’m wrong and all we saw was week 1 jitters. Here’s to Mordecai lighting it up against the Cougars.

Tucker Ashcraft

On the depth chart, 5th year Senior Hayden Rucci is the starter. On the field last week, it was Ashcraft who shined. He only had 2 catches for 36 yards, but they came on long 2nd downs and were key drive-extending grabs. And, he looked tough to take down with the ball in his hands. 

I expect the true freshman to shine again against WSU, especially with Mordecai preferring the short throws. He should be TE1 soon.

My Picks*

I have no plans to bet on anything involving this game. Last week made me nervous about the offense, and the defense was confusingly bad. I think there’s a chance week 2 looks nothing like week 1, but I just don’t know. Here’s what I would pick –  if I had to.


Take Washington State +6.5

I fear Wisconsin will commit to the passing game for too long even as it continues to not work drive after drive. At some point in the 2nd half they switch back to the run game, the comeback looks possible, and they even take the lead. But, the defense is a letdown 2 weeks in a row. No one talked about the defense after Buffalo, but they will be after WSU. Leonhard is missed greatly. It’s a close win or a devastating loss.


Under 58.5

Neither offense goes off, it’s a tight game where coaches try milking the clock once they have a small lead. The Under hits.

How I did last week:

Picking the Spread: Lost – Wisconsin didn’t cover

Picking the O/U: Lost – The over hit

No one knew anything about Wisconsin heading into week 1, including me.

*These picks are to express my opinion on games from a point spread perspective. I am not advocating for you, the reader, to gamble on any of these games. Please bet responsibly.

Nervous Score Prediction:

Wisconsin 24
Washington State 27

It kills me to predict Wisconsin losing. This is based on the thought that Fickell and Longo are going to force the issue with the new offense and commit to the pass. If (and it’s a big if) the Badgers commit to the run, and Allen and Mellusi get 20 carries each, then the Badgers win by 20.

Hopefully, if things go sideways in the passing game again, the Badgers switch to the running game early enough to save the game.


Want more Walk On Fan? 

Check out our post week 1 top 25 here. We do more than just list the top 25, we talk about the teams that played, and why I have them higher or lower than the other top 25’s out there.

Follow us on Twitter (or X) @here.

This article was written by Cole Tollison and edited by Hayden Breene

Welcome to Walk On Fan

Sign up to receive notifications when new articles go live!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *