Upon Further Review: Badgers vs. Michigan

It was supposed to be a street fight between two teams hoping to establish their presence in the Big Ten this year. Instead, it was schoolyard bullying.

Wisconsin ran roughshod over Michigan at Camp Randall Stadium, racing out to a 28-0 lead before winning 35-14. And the score was closer than the game actually felt.

More Badgers coverage

The Badgers came out running, opening the contest with a 12-play, 75-yard drive, culminating in the first of Jonathan Taylor’s two touchdowns. Of those 12 plays, 11 were rushes, including a fourth-and-1 carry from their own 34-yard line in which Taylor gained three yards.

In all, Wisconsin ran for 359 yards, the most the Wolverines have given up in a contest since 2015.

The beating of Michigan wasn’t just on offense. Wisconsin held the Wolverines off the scoreboard until late in the third quarter as Michigan failed to gain any steam after its first play went for 68 yards (the Wolverines would end up fumbling, one of four turnovers on the day).

With both teams coming in trying to make a name for itself as a contender for the conference title, one clearly emerged from the fracas.

Here’s a recap of Saturday’s game:


Wisconsin’s strategy from the start was plainly clear: ride the back of running back Jonathan Taylor. In the above-mentioned opening drive, Taylor ran the ball eight times. Taylor finished with 203 yards on 23 carries (8.8 average), setting a mark for the most rushing yards by a Badgers player against Michigan (James White held the mark with 181 in 2010) and the ninth time he’s reached 200 yards in a game. Taylor’s 72-yard touchdown early in the game was a momentum shifter (see below) as he quickly established he wouldn’t be held in check. That scamper was one of five runs of 10+ yards he had on the day.


Jack Coan’s numbers aren’t eye-popping – he threw for just 128 yards and ran for 12. But Coan did what he had to, namely not turn the ball over, find his receivers (he completed 13 of 16 passes) and take what the defense gave him, like running for a 25-yard score. Coan also ran it in on a 1-yard sneak earlier in the game, becoming the first Wisconsin quarterback with a rushing touchdown in a regular-season game since Joel Stave vs. Troy on Sept. 19, 2015. He became the first Badgers QB with two rushing TDs since John Stocco did it in a win over Minnesota on Nov. 6, 2004.

Badgers all-time databases


Early in the game, when it was still only 7-0 Wisconsin, Michigan wide receiver Ronnie Bell made a diving catch for a first down. However, the replay official overturned the call and called it incomplete. From these eyes, it was a tough decision and the fact it was called a catch lent belief the play would stand. And, let’s face it, if the shoe was on the other foot Wisconsin fans would have been outraged. Following the now-incomplete pass, Wisconsin held on third-and-5 and forced a punt. On the Badgers’ first play on the ensuing drive, Taylor ripped off his 72-yard run. The Badgers had already been dominating early on and this shift in momentum was palpable. After Taylor’s long TD, there seemed little doubt this was to be the Badgers’ day.


0 – number of third-down conversions for Michigan. (Yes, the Wolverines converted thee fourth-down plays, but it was late with the game out of hand and Wisconsin down its starting safeties.) It was the first time Michigan was held without a third-down conversion since at least 1995. Through three games, Wisconsin has held opponents to just four successful third-down conversions on 38 attempts (10.5%).


“I think we made (a statement). It’s going to be tough to come into Camp Randall and come out with an easy win. You have to play for 60 minutes. You have to play until the clock hits zero in the fourth quarter.” — running back Jonathan Taylor

“Certainly this isn’t cutting edge: we’re a better offense with J.T., yet I thought it was really good. I didn’t get any sense that we had to change anything, change the approach and guys made plays when he wasn’t going. It was great to get him back in and get him going. That’s what it’s going to take. That’s a scenario we are continuing to work on and improve. We are fortunate to have a back like J.T., everyone knows that. But if we’re going to be the best offense we can be, it’s going to take a lot more than that.” — head coach Paul Chryst

“He’s as good as advertised. We weren’t doing a good job tackling.” — Michigan safety Josh Metellus on Taylor

“I think one of his best traits as a quarterback is his willingness to compete. I thought he did that unbelievably well. He gave guys chances to make plays, and our guys believe in him, and they appreciate who he is and they know why he does all that he does and that’s for them.” — Chryst on Jack Coan

“After the first two games, I feel like the world didn’t want to say we were the best defense in the country. (They said) we didn’t have the best running back in the country and we didn’t have the best O-line in the country. And we really made an effort to make a statement this game.” — linebacker Zack Baun


It’s a third straight home game for Wisconsin, which will host Northwestern next week. The Wildcats are 1-2 after suffering a 31-10 loss at home to Michigan State. Quarterback Hunter Johnson, a transfer from Clemson, has struggled. The Badgers will be without starting safeties Eric Burrell and Reggie Pearson in the first half, after both were called for targeting in the third quarter against Michigan.