Braelon Allen and the Badgers were reminded of the difference a week — and a new opponent can make — during Week 7.

First, let’s take a trip back in time, all the way to Week 6. Okay, that was just a week ago, but it’s still worth revisiting.

Yes, Allen had 100+ yards rushing, but he was far from the main storyline offensively in the win over Northwestern. Chimere Dike had 3 touchdowns, Graham Mertz threw for 5 scores and Allen’s highlight of the day came as a passer while throwing a touchdown to Chez Mellusi.

There was just one small problem with that 42-point outburst against Northwestern. It was Northwestern.

Okay, back in the present and during Week 7, Allen was phenomenal against Michigan State. Unfortunately, the Badgers did not have much help to go with his work and that ultimately proved costly.

Let’s revisit Mertz. For as inconsistent as he has been, Mertz had just one game under 200 yards passing this season entering Saturday’s game against Michigan State. That outing came in the blowout loss to Ohio State.

After his best outing of the season, Mertz crashed back into reality with less than 150 yards passing. He finished with 131 passing yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception against Michigan State.

What’s the problem with that? It was Michigan State. You know, the same Spartan defense that is allowing opposing QBs to complete nearly 70% of passes and roughly 290 yards per game through the air?

If ever there was a great road trip opportunity for Mertz to keep things rolling, this should have been it. Instead, the Badgers were hampered offensively by the air attack with Dike serving as the teams leading receiver with 4 catches for 45 yards. Things would have been even worse for that Wisconsin passing attack had it not been for a 25-yard touchdown pass in overtime to force double overtime.

As for Allen, he was really the star of the show. He carried the ball 29 times for 123 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. He also produced 3 catches for 33 yards in the game.

What do those numbers mean? Allen accounted for 156 of Wisconsin’s 283 total yards of offense. Or, roughly 55% of Wisconsin’s total offense against one of the worst defensive units in the B1G coming into Week 7.

And yes, it was a fumble by Allen in the second overtime period that set Michigan State up for the win, but bringing up that fumble feels like almost a slap in the face. It was a mistake, but it is one that could have been avoided had the offense come alive during regulation.

And if nothing else, the Week 7 loss to Michigan State illustrates just how tough the job is right for Jim Leonhard — or anyone else, really — who dare take the helm in Madison. Injuries or not, if the Badgers cannot ride Allen’s work to a win against Michigan State’s defense, where can they?

The Badgers must still face the high-flying offenses of Purdue, Maryland and Nebraska. While Iowa and Minnesota have been offensively challenged lately, those two teams provide good defenses to try and work against.

At 3-4 on the season, the Badgers need 3 wins in the final 5 games to avoid missing a bowl game. The last time that happened was in 2001.

And while Leonhard might not need to make a bowl game in order to land the permanent head coaching job, he’ll want to at least show more growth than was on display in Week 7.