Michigan vs Wisconsin score, takeaway: No. 13 Badgers rob Wolverine for easy road win

When will it end? This is what Michigan fans will have to ask themselves after seeing another embarrassing loss. No. 13 Wisconsin crushed Michigan 49-11 at The Big House on Saturday night. It was a game that felt only minutes after it started. The deranged Michigan defense managed to force a Wisconsin punt on the first possession of the game, but the Wolverines overturned the ball on their first play of the night. Joe Milton had been displaced before he was elected. After a few plays, Wisconsin took a 7–0 lead.

Milton was again stopped on Michigan’s second possession. It was his fault, however, as he failed to spot Wisconsin linebacker Leo Chenel and fired a pass straight into his numbers. Chenel’s return scored another Wisconsin score shortly after.

Fortunately for Michigan, it will not turn the ball over again. At least not in the traditional way. Unfortunately, taking care of the ball was not nearly enough to get the Wolverines back into the game.

The Badgers will continue oncall, racing to halftime with a 28–0 lead at Wisconsin. This was the biggest decrease in halftime of home games since 1927. The Wolverines showed some signs of life in the third quarter, with 11 points on the board, but it was a short-lived burst. Wisconsin would react to bury the Wolverines with two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

The Badgers go 2–0 on the season with a win and it sets a huge game against Northwestern 4–0 next week. Both teams are the only remaining unbeaten in the Big Ten West Division. For the Wolverines, they are now 1-3 on the season, and will face another 1-3 team in the Rutgers next week.

Here are four takeaways from another blowout win for Wisconsin over the Wolverines.

1. Graham Mertz was not fast, but it did not matter

It was no surprise considering how much time Mirtz lost due to a positive test of COVID-19. Nor was it surprising that the rest of Michigan’s Badgers looked a bit rougher in the early stages of the game, making their lives much easier and giving them time to settle into the game. Nevertheless, the first time we saw Mertz at the start of his first career against Irton, he cut Illini with surgical precision. Mertz looked like the greatest QB ever, completing 20 of his 21 passes with five touchdowns.

It was not so on Saturday night. Mertz completed only 12 of his 22 passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Even as the night progressed, the rest of Wisconsin’s offenses got into a rhythm, with Mertz seeming to slow a half-step. He was wrong with some throws and was slow with the reeds at others. But, again, this was to be expected with long layoffs and lack of practice time. Odds are that the real Graham Mertz will be found somewhere between that Illinois game and this Michigan game, and I’d bet it’s closer to the Illini performance.

2. Wisconsin still dominates Michigan on the ground

The effectiveness of the ground game helped overcome Mertz’s volatile game. The Badgers ran for 341 yards on Saturday night, averaging 6.7 yards per yard and five touchdowns. It was a key performance of Wisconsin’s offensive line that tackled only two tackles to deal with the loss on the night.

This was not a new thing. When these teams met in Madison last season, Wisconsin rushed for 359 yards on 57 carries against the Michigan Defense. Therefore, over the past two seasons, Wisconsin has rushed for 700 yards and 10 touchdowns against the Wolverines, averaging 6.5 yards per carry.

3. This adorable idol

Michigan did not record a sack or turnover in the first half of the game, meaning the Wolverines’ defense was without one of five straight parts of football. According to ESPN Stats and Info, it was the first time the Big Ten defense had gone so long in at least the last 15 seasons without a sack or turnover.

Now, this is not all bad news as the Wolverines will record a sack in the second half. Sure, it came well after the game’s decision, but it still matters! It didn’t help that the Wolverines were without their two top defensive linemen Aidan Hutchinson and Quiet Pae tonight. Although, honestly, the way the Wisconsin Offensive Line dominates it, I can’t say that their presence matters much.

4. Harbag speculation will only grow louder

I have said many times that I do not believe that Jim Harbo will be fired, especially during the season. Michigan does not like firing coaches at any time while the season is happening. Neither Rich Rodriguez nor Brady Hawk were let go during the season and both performed far worse than Harborg. Toss in the fact that we’re currently in an epidemic, and I don’t see a scenario in which Michigan just pulls the trigger on prodigal son.

Nor, however, do I see that Harbaugh was fired after the season. There may be a mutual decision to part ways, or maybe everyone of those NFL jobs likes to pretend Harbaugh is interested in him this year. Whatever it is, it is not being removed. But this will not stop everyone from asking if it will happen or talking about the possibility of it happening.

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