When will it end? That’s what Michigan fans must be wondering after seeing yet another embarrassing loss. Wisconsin’s No.13 defeated Michigan 49-11 at The Big House on Saturday night. It was a game that seemed to be over within minutes of starting. The beleaguered Michigan defense managed to force a Wisconsin punt on the game’s first possession, but the Wolverines returned the ball in their opener of the night. Joe Milton’s pass was hijacked before it was picked. A few games later, Wisconsin took a 7-0 lead.
Milton was intercepted again on Michigan’s second possession.
It was his fault, however, as he failed to locate Wisconsin linebacker Leo Chenal and shot a pass straight into his numbers. Chenal’s return set another score in Wisconsin soon after.
Fortunately for Michigan, they would no longer spin the ball. At least not in the traditional way. Unfortunately, taking care of the ball wasn’t enough to put the Wolverines back on the line.
Badger’s assault would continue with Wisconsin leading 28-0 at halftime.
It was Michigan’s biggest halftime home game since 1927. The Wolverines would show signs of life in the third quarter, putting 11 points on the scoreboard, but it was a short-lived flurry. Wisconsin would respond by burying the Wolverines more in the fourth quarter with two more TDs.
The Badgers go 2-0 this season with the win and prepare for a huge game against the 4-0 Northwestern next week. The two teams are the only ones to remain undefeated in the Big Ten West division. As for the Wolverines, they are now 1-3 in the season and will face another team 1-3 at Rutgers next week.
Here are the four highlights of another great Wisconsin victory over the Wolverines.
1. Graham Mertz was not sharp, but it didn’t matter
This is not surprising considering the time Mertz must have wasted due to the positive result for COVID-19. It was also no surprise that the rest of the Badgers looked a little rough at the start of the game before Michigan made their lives easier and gave them time to settle into the game. However, when we first saw Mertz early in his career against Illinois, he tore through Illinois with surgical precision. Mertz looked like the best quarterback ever, completing 20 of his 21 passes with five touchdowns.
It wasn’t like that on Saturday night.
Mertz completed just 12 of his 22 passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Even through the night, as the rest of the Wisconsin attack found a rhythm, Mertz felt like a slow half-step. It was inaccurate with some rollovers and slow with readings on others. But, again, that was to be expected with the long layoff and lack of time for rehearsals. Chances are, the real Graham Mertz is somewhere between this Illinois game and this Michigan game, and I bet it’s closer to how Illinois performed.
2. Wisconsin still dominates Michigan on the court
Efficient ground play helped overcome Mertz’s fragile play. The Badgers racked up 341 yards on Saturday night, averaging 6.7 yards per carry and five touchdowns. It was a dominant performance from a Wisconsin offensive line that only allowed two tackles per loss on the night.
3. This confusing statistic
Michigan did not record a layoff or turnover in the first half of the game, which meant the Wolverines defense had gone through five consecutive halves of football without one. According to ESPN Stats and Info, this was the first time a Big Ten defense has gone so long without layoff or turnover in the past 15 seasons.
Now, it’s not all bad news as the Wolverines would record a second-half layoff. Of course, everything went well after the decision of the match, but it still matters! It didn’t help that the Wolverines were deprived of their two best defensive linemen Aidan Hutchinson and Kwity Paye tonight. While honestly how the Wisconsin offensive line dominated this, I can’t say for sure that their presence would have mattered much.
4. Harbaugh’s speculation will only increase
I’ve said several times that I don’t think Jim Harbaugh will be fired, especially during the season. Michigan doesn’t like to fire coaches all the time, let alone