By: Matthew Vayts
The University of Wisconsin football team fell to 5-3 on the season and 3-2 in the Big Ten, after a scrappy loss to No. 3 Ohio State last Saturday. A one possession game until 5:15 in the fourth quarter, there’s a bigger story to tell then what the final score would justify.
Here’s the good, bad, and ugly from the Badgers Loss.
Ohio State quarterback Kyle McCord made sure to test Hallman early, sending many balls his way whenever he was on Marvin Harrison in the first half. It’s safe to say Ricardo passed with flying colors.
An electric pass breakup on Marvin Harrison Jr. in the end zone during Ohio State’s second drive ended up in OSU settling for a field goal. Again at the end of the second half during coverage of Harrison, Hallman jumped the route leading to a Badgers interception resulting in the Badgers putting up their first three points of the game.
Hallman’s dominance early resulted in Kyle McCord not daring to send him the ball in the second half.
Braedyn Locke went 18-for-39, with 165 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. At an initial glance, this doesn’t look too great. However, Locke’s situational ball was quite impressive for a redshirt freshman in the biggest game of his entire career.
Locke’s decision making was on point, and while there were miscues and missed throws, it is crucial to put in perspective that Locke is still under development and has only had two weeks of first team reps. A fantastic 29-yard strike on 3rd-and-6 set up the Badgers for a touchdown, tying the Buckeyes 10-10.
Against a stout Ohio State defense ranked 4th in the nation for yards per game, the praises for Locke should be sung.
Three and Outs
In the game of football there is nothing worse than watching the defense stop a drive and get the ball back in the offense’s hands just to result in the ball being returned a short three plays over. Not only does this kill any momentum, it places a gassed defense right back on the field.
Three of the first five Badgers resulted in a three-and-out, while the first drive was a fumble and the second a missed 54-yard field goal. Until the last drive of the first half, the Badgers had one first down and it was from a defensive holding call.
Two more three-and-outs in the second half marks a total of seven wasted drives if both missed field goal and fumble are included which can not happen if Wisconsin is trying to take a game from Ohio State.
While the quantity of injuries sustained during this game weren’t numerous, the two that did occur hit hard.
Wide receiver Chimere Dike suffered a right leg injury and he entered the tunnel early at the end of the first half. Jackson Acker stated that Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen might have a potential ankle sprain suffered on the penultimate play of the first half. Both players’ availability are up in the air for the next game at Indiana.
Losing a top receiver and the main running back on offense and primary returner is a tough blow for Madison and the lack of their presence was felt at the end of the game. Jackson Acker filled in admirably, but that punch that Allen provided could’ve aided during in that crucial 4th quarter.
In such a tough matchup against one of the strongest opponents in college football, Wisconsin has to leap on any opportunity they can to come out on top. A missed 54-yard field goal was the beginning of missed opportunities.
The biggest standout was three straight shots at the end zone at the end of the first half and having to settle for a field goal. It started with a ball low and behind Skyler Bell, his knee barely brushing the ground to be considered down. Then, a couple of stuffed runs later, including one that injured Allen, and it led to a decision for Luke Fickell, who decided to take the three.
The drop woes also continued this game which hurt multiple first down opportunities, all contributing to what could have been.
There’s no doubt that’s what all the fans and coaching staff are left thinking about after this game.