Wisconsin football: B1G West title still in play for Badgers as divisional play looms
The theme of the Wisconsin Badgers football season now shifts to the “How the West Will Be Won” portion of the schedule.
The date is circled on the calendar: Saturday, Nov. 26. At Camp Randall Stadium. Minnesota at Wisconsin in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Wisconsin and Minnesota will vie for the Big Ten West title in Madison.
Badgers team captains Graham Mertz, Nick Herbig and Keeanu Benton sat before the media on Saturday night and took responsibility for Wisconsin’s 52-21 drubbing at No. 3 Ohio State.
That same trio will be responsible for keeping their teammates focused on the task at hand: Win out to win the West and advance to the Big Ten Championship.
In order to accomplish the task, the Badgers must become road warriors.
Remaining road games at Northwestern (Oct. 8), Michigan State (Oct. 15), Iowa (Nov. 12) and Nebraska (Nov. 19) are all winnable.
Could a second game against Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship be the final reward? Yes. Deal with it.
The Badgers have the unyielding confidence to get the job done.
Take a look at Mertz against Ohio State. He never waivered and showed the ability to shake off mistakes. Mertz, who threw to 8 different receivers, completed 11 of 20 passes for 94 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception on Saturday.
Mertz stayed focused after watching tight end — and campus roommate — Clay Cundiff get carted off the field with what appeared to be a broken left leg in the final minute of the first half.
Through 4 games, Mertz has completed 66 of 102 passes for 885 yards, 8 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.
Running back Braelon Allen continues to perform and lead the run game. Allen, a sophomore, collected his 10th 100-yard game against Ohio State with 23 carries for 165 yards, a 7.2-yard average.
Yes, most of Allen’s yardage at Ohio State came during garbage time with backups in the game, but he’s shown his talent time and again.
Mertz has expanded Wisconsin’s options in the pass game with Skyler Bell, Isaac Guerendo and Chimere Dike.
In order to succeed and win the remainder of the season, the Badgers must place an emphasis on limiting penalties and turnovers.
The Badgers have shown their depth on the offensive line; when a player is sidelined with illness or injury, the next man steps in. But staying healthy is critical for those critical positions.
On the defensive end, Herbig and Benton, along with Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard, need to stress a simple mantra: No more missed tackles.
The Badgers need to put the Ohio State game behind them.
Let’s be honest: Ohio State is clearly superior compared to every team in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes will decimate whichever team is on the field.
Minnesota proved its up to the challenge to contend for a West title.
The Gophers and senior quarterback Tanner Morgan executed an excellent performance in Minnesota’s 34-7 road win over Michigan State on Saturday.
So yes, that Nov. 26 date is definitely circled on Wisconsin and Minnesota football calendars.