Rapid Reaction: No. 18 Wisconsin leaves Chicago with question marks ahead of B1G play
No. 12 Notre Dame vs. No. 18 Wisconsin was predicted to be a low-scoring game, and we saw why.
The quarterback play was shaky and the defenses were stout — the major ingredients for a grind-it-out game.
But it was the Fighting Irish who came away with the victory. Now, Paul Chryst has to start asking some questions about his offense.
They’ll almost certainly start with the quarterback.
Redshirt sophomore Graham Mertz didn’t look good at all, completing 18 of 41 passes for 240 yards, a touchdown and 4 interceptions.
But Notre Dame’s quarterback situation wasn’t great, either. Jack Coan — remember that name, Badgers fans? — went 15-for-29 for 158 yards and a touchdown before going down with an injury in the 3rd quarter. Redshirt sophomore Drew Pyne looked good as he got thrown into the deep end, throwing 81 yards and a touchdown on 6-of-8 passing.
The biggest takeaway from this game for UW has to be the offense, though. It starts with Mertz, whose decision-making wasn’t great. He also had 5 turnovers — 4 picks and a fumble — which all resulted in Notre Dame scores. Outside of Chez Mellusi, who rushed for 47 yards, the run game wasn’t great, either. That’s a big reason why Wisconsin entered the game ranked 11th out of the 14 teams in the B1G in total offense. If the Badgers want to right the ship, they’ve got to figure out that part of the game plan.
There were some good things for Wisconsin to come away with, though, especially on defense. Wisconsin basically took away Notre Dame’s running game, allowing just 2 Fighting Irish rushers to gain yards and 3 total rushing yards. If the Badgers were going to get beat, it was going to happen in the air. That’s exactly what happened.
It’s not to say the pass rush was bad. The Badgers sacked Coan 5 times and Pyne once, which is a big reason Wisconsin was able to take a 13-10 lead at one point. But Notre Dame found its offense in the 4th quarter, outsourcing Wisconsin 17-3 to hand Wisconsin the loss.
We’re going to see how Chryst and the Badgers address everything as the season goes along. But it’s time for B1G play, starting with Michigan at Camp Randall Stadium next week.
If there’s a time to figure everything out, it’s now.