It didn’t take long to learn that Central Michigan couldn’t back up some pregame bluster. The Chippewas not only couldn’t hang with Wisconsin, but also couldn’t prevent being steamrolled by the Badgers.
Wisconsin’s second nonconference game went even better than its first. After beating South Florida on the road 49-0, the Badgers followed it up with a 61-0 domination of Central Michigan at Camp Randall Stadium.
The offense clicked on all cylinders, racking up 599 yards of offense – the most in a game since 2014 – and converting on an impressive 11 of 13 third-down attempts.
Jonathan Taylor had another big game. Although his stats weren’t eye-popping (102 yards on 19 carries, 17 yards on three catches), he scored Wisconsin’s first three touchdowns and had four overall again – the first player since at least 2000 to open a season with back-to-back four TD games.
But this one wasn’t just about running the ball. Wisconsin threw for 400 yards, its third-highest total in a game but most in a win, and had three scores through the air.
Meanwhile, the defense clamped down, limiting Central Michigan to 57 yards, the second-lowest total in a game in Badgers history. The Chippewas crossed midfield only twice: In the second quarter after a short punt gave them the ball at the Wisconsin 41 (three plays later, CMU turned the ball over with an interception) and at the end of the game when they just ran the clock out and got to the 43.
As we said, a domination.
So much for the preseason, let Big Ten play begin (with one October exception in Kent State).
Here's a recap of Saturday night’s game (Story | Photos):
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jack Coan’s first home start was indeed memorable. The junior quarterback completed 26 of 33 passes for 363 yards with three touchdowns. The passing yards were the fifth-most in a game in UW history and the first 300+ yard game for Wisconsin since Joel Stave had 322 vs. Purdue on Oct. 17, 2015. Coan’s 276 yards in the first half were the most by a Badgers QB after two quarters. His passer rating was an impressive 201.2. How impressive? Since 2000, Coan is only the second Badgers QB to have a passer rating of above 200 with 25+ pass attempts. The other was Russell Wilson against FCS South Dakota on Sept. 24, 2011 (231.5, 25 attempts).
DON'T FORGET ABOUT ME
While Coan was making his first start at Camp Randall, Quintez Cephus hadn’t appeared in a home game since Oct. 14, 2017. Like Coan, his day was memorable. Cephus set career highs with six catches and 130 yards and had the second two TD game of his career. Both scores were on long pass plays, going for 36 and 46 yards. The 130 yards were the second-most for a Badgers receiver since the 2015 season. Not a bad homecoming, indeed.
With Wisconsin leading 7-0, Central Michigan readied to punt on its second possession from its own 17-yard line. Except punter Brady Buell dropped the ball, literally. Buell muffed the snap then as he tried to pick up the football got hammered by John Chenal, the ball squirting into the end zone where eventually the Badgers were awarded a safety. The Badgers then drove down the field on a 10-play, 71-yard drive for another score. Just like that it was 16-0 and midway through the first quarter this one was already feeling like a blowout. That blown punt perfectly encapsulated the day.
0 – number of points Wisconsin has allowed this season. We’ve given a bunch of numbers above, but how about one for the defense, which has been stifling so far in 2019. It’s the first time Wisconsin has had back-to-back shutouts since 2013, when UMass and Tennessee Tech were blanked to open the season. The last time the Badgers posted two straight shutouts against FBS/Division 1 teams was in 1958 when they started the year keeping Miami and Marquette (yes, Marquette) of the scoreboard.
THEY SAID IT
"I don't think that anything he's done has surprised us, but I am impressed — I mean, he went through a lot, and everyone did, right? He certainly gives us a great energy. There is a reason why the linemen absolutely love and appreciate him. Every down, first game, you know, couple of those screens that we hit, he was a big part of that. You saw a little bit different today, and I think that he gives — he missed a year playing with a group that he loves and in a game that he loves. When you get it back — there is a spirit about him that we would all be crazy not to see and appreciate and learn from." -- Head coach Paul Chryst on Quintez Cephus
"I would be lying if I said it didn't motivate us a little bit. All it did was add extra fire and we didn't really take it like too crazy, but me personally, definitely for sure." -- linebacker Chris Orr regarding some comments he saw from Central Michigan during the week
"He is well-deserving to be in that Heisman race. " really like the way he plays the game. I think he's a good player, and people in the Big Ten are going to have to wrap him up." -- Central Michigan head coach Jim McElwain on Jonathan Taylor
"You love to see the zero on the scoreboard. “That is the goal every week keeping our opponents to as minimal as we can, whether that’s stopping the run stopping the pass, or even keeping a zero on the scoreboard. You love to see that.” -- linebacker Zack Baun
Jeff HanischJeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Wisconsin is off next week before hosting Michigan on Sept. 21 at 11 a.m. The Wolverines also will have a week of rest, but unlike the Badgers, Michigan were fortunate to win tis game Saturday. The Wolverines needed two overtimes and a defensive stop at the end to get past Army at home, 24-21. The 2-0 Wolverines thumped Wisconsin 38-13 last year in Ann Arbor. The Badgers won in 2017 at Camp Randall, 24-10.