Wisco Wednesday: Ready or Not, Here Comes B1G Football

So how about that Defense? At least the “No Turnovers” streak is over.

Ready or not should be the expression of the week. Wisconsin has better players than Purdue. But, based on what we saw over the first 3 weeks, the Badgers do not look ready to go on the road in conference. 

Looking Back: A Jekyll and Hyde Defense. Yards and Turnovers.

Georgia Southern 14
Wisconsin 35


They actually got 6!

The streak has ended. After 2 games without a turnover, Wisconsin got six. But, were they earned? Kind of? All 6 turnovers were on Georgia Southern QB, Davis Brin, and I think he deserves blame more than Wisconsin deserves credit. Some were bad throws because the Wisconsin D-Line was generating pressure, and some were just bad throws. 

Brin threw 5 picks and fumbled once. Watching the game, most of the picks were thrown right to Badger defenders. They didn’t so much “make a play on the ball,” it was more “they caught the ball that hit their hands.”

So yeah, 6 turnovers is great, and it takes skill to catch INT’s and secure loose fumbles, but it wasn’t impressive. More so just something you’d expect from a good defense.

So Many Yards

For Georgia Southern, the yards start coming, and they don’t stop coming, and they don’t stop coming, and they don’t stop coming, and they don’t stop… you get the idea. Thankfully for Wisconsin: Yards ≠ Points.

Remember, Georgia Southern is a Sun Belt nobody, and Wisconsin should have a good defense. 

385 yards passing on 52 attempts
94 yards rushing on only 21 carries (ignoring sacks)

479 total yards, in Camp Randall. That’s too much.

Even after factoring in sack yardage, GA Southern’s 455 was better than Wisco’s 451. They outgained Bucky in his own house. 

Against a halfway decent team, Wisconsin gives up 30+ points and loses the game. They probably give up 600+ yards against a Michigan or Penn State quality offense. Missed tackles, poor pass coverage, open running lanes. You name it, and the Badger defense probably screwed it up. It’s a good thing they got 6 turnovers. Let’s pretend GA Southern only gift wraps Wisconsin 2 or 3 INT’s; then this game is way too close, and possibly a loss.

Offense check-in

Watching the game, the offense was inconsistent. At times, they threw the ball better than in previous weeks. Then they would follow that up with incomplete, incomplete, incomplete, punt. 

Slow starts are still a problem. It was 7 to 7 at half. That’s unacceptable. My fix for the slow start: more Braelon Allen. Let’s look at the first Badger drive.

Mellusi – 1 yard
Mellusi – 1 yard
Mordecai – tries to run, but his O-Lineman shoves a defender right in front of him – sack
4th down – punt

So they tried to run. They just ran the wrong guys. Braelon would’ve done better than 1 yard, 1 yard, no yards. 

In the 2nd half, Fick turned on the Brealon switch. Only 12 carries, but 94 yards and 2 TDs is great production for such a low rush count. 

Penalties were a Problem

Penalties are a coaching issue, not an offense or defense issue. They can make a rolling offense come to a halt, and they can keep a tired defense on the field after it appeared a drive would finally be over. So despite me putting penalties in the coaching category, they do hurt the stats for both units on the field. 

The penalties Wisconsin is getting are very coaching dependent.

3 Illegal Formations (1 was declined)
2 Facemasks
3 Offensive Holdings (1 was declined)
1 Defensive Pass Interference
1 Kick Catch Interference

The pass interference I can live with, that was just Maitre playing aggressively. The rest are not okay. Especially the illegal formations, those are 100% a coaching issue.

Wisconsin was credited with 8 penalties for 88 yards in this game. That’s more than their first 2 games combined (7 for 60). For some reason, Wisconsin played sloppy this week. They better fix it. 

Around College Football: 

Washington kicks Sparty while they’re down

Mel Tucker will be fired for cause. That means the university won’t have to pay for his $75 million buy-out. Sparty was in full panic mode going into Saturday, and Washington was just rolling into town. 

What is the #1 strength of Washington?
An unrivaled passing attack led by Heisman hopeful Micheal Penix Jr. 

What is the #1 weakness of Michigan State?
A depleted secondary that gave up 13.4 yards per attempt to OSU in 2022.

Well, that was last year.

You’re right. This year it was 13.7 yards per attempt vs. Washington – AT HOME.

Just in case you missed it, that was per attempt, not per completion. Washington averaged a 1st down plus 3 yards, every time they threw the ball. This was not a fair fight.

The Final Score:

Washington 41
Michigan State 7

My takeaway: Washington will be just fine when they enter B1G play next year. A cross-country flight from Seattle to Lansing, then a short bus ride to Spartan Stadium, and a packed crowd full of undefeated B1G fans. None of it phased the Huskies, not even for a second.

Penn State is for real

Penn State at Illinois was the marquee B1G game of the week. It’s unfortunate this Illinois team isn’t as good as they were last year. The game can be used to represent cars going in opposite directions on the highway. Penn State is rising, and Illinois is regressing to the mean. 

The Final Score: 

Penn State 30
Illinois 13

It was never even that close. 

While this was definitely Drew Allar’s worst performance, it was also the 1st road start of his entire career. Illinois isn’t as loud as The Horseshoe or Kinnick, but the fans have been revitalized since Beilema came to town. This was not an easy place to play; well, it wasn’t until the 3rd quarter that the Illini lost any hope of winning. 

Minnesota and Northwestern add to the B1G West Reputation

Please B1G West, do something to make fans think you aren’t complete garbage. The best non-con win in the west is Iowa over Iowa State. Iowa State man, they just lost to Ohio at home. Yeah, Ohio (Not Ohio State), the Bobcats. 

Minnesota lost 13 to 31 at North Carolina.

Northwestern lost 14 to 38 at Duke.

Both were underdogs, and both deserved to be. But, at the very least make it a game. MN and NW got blown out. The games were unwatchable, and neither team covered. So hometown gamblers likely resent them too. 

At this point, the West will need to knock off some of the B1G East teams to recover any sliver of respect they may have once had.

It’s not him, it’s us. Sorry Graham.

Graham Mertz won. Not only did he win, he looked good doing it.

I picked Florida to lose at home to Tennessee. Instead, Florida won decisively – 29 to 16.

Mertz wasn’t special by any means, but he was way better than what fans were used to in Madison. 19/24 is efficient passing. 166 yards wasn’t much, but it was enough. A passing TD and a rushing TD were more than Tennessee scored the whole game. And 0 Turnovers. Something that felt like it was impossible for Mertz at Wisconsin.

His numbers aren’t eye-popping, yet he looked like a good quarterback for all 4 quarters. Late in the game, his left hand got a pretty deep gash in it. He was bleeding all over – enough to see on TV – and it didn’t seem to phase him. He was poised; he looked like a real quarterback. 

Must be nice Florida.

Looking Forward: Keep the Streak Alive

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

Game Preview: Wisconsin at Purdue


Wisconsin -5.5




Ross-Ade Stadium – West Lafayette, Indiana

Kickoff Time:

Friday – 6:00 PM CT

TV Network:


Evaluating the Purdue Boilermakers.

Changes going into 2023:

New coach, new quarterback, new Purdue.

This isn’t the same team that won the West last year. QB Aidan O’Connell plays for the Las Vegas Raiders now. And their best WR in 2022, Charlie Jones, is with the Cincinnati Bengals. HC Jeff Brohm left Purdue to go to Louisville, his alma mater. 

So who are the replacements?

Head Coach – Ryan Walters – former Illinois DC
Quarterback – Hudson Card – former starter at Texas
WR – TBD – they are very WR by committee right now. 

How they’ve done so far:

Purdue is 1-2 right now, not exactly the start they wanted. What’s even weirder: they are winless at home, and undefeated on the road. It helps that the worst team they’ve played this year was the road game. Sorry, Virginia Tech.

Week 1: Lost 39-35 at home vs. Fresno State
Week 2: Won 27-14 at Virginia Tech
Week 3: Lost 35-20 at home vs. Syracuse

Purdue is the only B1G team to schedule 2 Power 5 opponents in their non-conference schedule. Fresno State is also one of the best lower conference teams in the country in 2023. Purdue scheduled up. Their 1-2 record is not a sign of a hopeless team, it’s the result of playing half-decent opponents. Not cupcakes. 

They are also 1-2 because they aren’t very good. I would’ve expected Wisconsin to go 3-0 with that slate of games. Especially with 2 being at home. 

How they matchup vs. Wisconsin:

So I complained about Wisconsin penalties earlier. Well, Wisconsin is a well-oiled machine compared to Purdue. This game could get really sloppy. 

Wisconsin has had 15 penalties this season – 8 last game.
Purdue has had 22 penalties this season – 11 last game. 

A 20 penalty game is possible and would be nearly unwatchable. I guess both teams are experiencing some growing pains with the new coach and new QB combo. 

Purdue is definitely a pass first team. They didn’t bring in Card from Texas to run a ground-and-pound offense. The Badgers secondary thus far has been a weakness. They likely won’t be gifted as many free interceptions as last week. I expect Purdue will be able to get some points by throwing the ball.

Purdue’s defense is nothing special. The Badgers need to show some improvement in the passing game (or commit to the run and win the old-fashioned way).

What to Watch for the Badgers

The Streak

Wisconsin is destined to win at Purdue. How do I know that? Because all they do is beat Purdue. The current generation of Badger fans does not know what it’s like to lose to Purdue football. It’s inconceivable.

Wisconsin has beaten Purdue 16 times in a row. Sixteen!

The last time Purdue beat Wisconsin – 2003. That was 20 years ago. There are fans that can drive, there are fans that can vote, there are students at Purdue and Wisconsin, and in their entire lifetimes, Purdue has NEVER beaten Wisconsin. One more year and they can drink to the fact that they’ve never won. 

Badgers, keep the streak alive. 

Mordecai makes me Morde-cry

We were told he’d be the best since Russell Wilson. All I see is another Alex Hornibrook. 

There were overthrows, check-downs, some poor scrambling, and some decent throws. It was very much a mixed bag against GA Southern. Against Purdue, I just want him to be better. He has 2 passing TDs and  2 INTs in 3 games. He also has 2 rushing TDs and 2 fumbles. 

Double the passing TDs and have 1 turnover max. This is a request, not a prediction. I don’t actually know how Mordecai will do this week. I can only hope he gets better. 

Keontez Lewis

Lewis has left the building. 

WR Keontez Lewis was in the “top 6” group that OC Phil Longo said he would rotate in and out throughout games this year. 2 games into the season, Lewis had single-digit snaps all in garbage time. 

He decided he was misled and would like to play somewhere he could contribute. He has left the team and will enter the transfer portal at the end of the season. 

I think it would be smarter to ride the pine and wait for the inevitable injury bug to make a spot open up for him. But it sounds like he really doesn’t want to play for the new staff at Wisconsin with how he feels misled and underappreciated. 

Good luck out there.

My Picks*

Two weeks, two correct spread picks, maybe I’m figuring something out. The Georgia Southern game was worse for Bucky than I expected, but they still managed to cover late. If you check my preseason B1G West predictions, I’ve been 3 for 3 on picking Purdue’s games. I feel like I have the Boilermakers figured out. For this game, below is what I would pick – if I had to.


Take Wisconsin -5.5

Wisconsin has been bad through 3 weeks. Thankfully, Purdue has been worse. A win by a TD isn’t a big ask. This isn’t a game Wisconsin should be proud of winning. This is a game they should win comfortably, even with all their faults.


Over 53.5

I have no confidence in this going over. But if the defense is bad, Purdue will score. If Wisco runs the ball, they will score. If both teams score, the over hits. That’s my logic.

How I did last week:

Picking the Winner: Won – Wisconsin won
Picking the Spread: Won – Wisconsin covered
Picking the O/U: Lost – The Under hit

I shouldn’t pick over/unders; I’m clearly struggling in that area.

Season-Long Record Picking Wisconsin Games:

Picking the Winner: 3-0
Picking the Spread: 2-1
Picking the O/U: 1-2

*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.

Optimistic Score Prediction:

Wisconsin 34
Purdue 24

I expect this to look a lot like the GA Southern game. A slow start for Wisconsin, and then they run the ball and handle business. Mellusi inexplicably gets more carries than Allen again, but Allen has more yards. Purdue scores more than GA Southern did last week because Bucky isn’t getting 6 turnovers 2 weeks in a row. But, the Badger defense is okay enough without the turnovers to hold Purdue under 30, and Purdue penalties are a major factor in their offensive ineptitude. 

Keep the streak alive. History is on Wisconsin’s side.

P.S. Jim Leonhard, please come home.


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

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