If you had the opportunity to watch the University of Michigan Wisconsin game, you probably thought it was October 31st because there was a massacre at Camp Randall. The Badgers put an old school stomping on the Wolverines which may well have declawed them for the rest of the season. This game was a story of the haves and have nots and not the historical spin so many college football fans who live in Ann Arbor would want to put on it. These two top-tier B1G teams seemed to be trending in opposite directions headed into the season, and then something happened……they played, and in Week 4 Michigan was exposed. Rather than go on and on about the huge discrepancies, let’s just explore the takeaways from the game.
1. Michigan has no Identity
The Wolverines “revamped” their offense to utilize the weapons they have particularly at WR, but at this point of the season, the newness has not been fully revealed; unless its randomness that is meant to confuse both players and coaches. The tempo has shown itself to be belabored to Nascar fast with the same lackluster results. After the win against Army, the consensus from fans was that with two weeks to prepare for Wisconsin a more diverse offense would be revealed. A balanced attack with a vertical passing scheme would be showcased take advantage of the multiple mismatches receivers create. The Wolverines seemed to be unprepared and unwilling to modify past practices to test the theory of insanity, doing the same things yet expecting a different result. Injuries in the backfield didn’t help matters at all as the first rush in the game was by reconverted FB Ben Mason, which was fumbled. The offensive line appeared to be confused by simple stunts and failed to communicate too many times to mention as their quarterbacks ran for their lives with Patterson and McCaffrey getting injured. There appears to be a level of distrust between Coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Josh Gattis; either Gattis doesn’t have full play-calling control or Jim has too much control in the weekly game planning. Sadly, the lack of identity is not applied to the offense alone, the defense has a set of issues of their own. The defense which many thought would big one of the best in the country again has shown itself to be porous at best. Army exposed weaknesses in the defense that the Badgers figured they could exploit because they did to the tune of 359 yards. It was a dominant performance by the Badgers, but the Wolverines made it much easier than it should have been. A variation of missed tackles, broken containment, and outright confusion added salt to the deep wound Wisconsin running backs dished out. The young defensive backs found themselves in numerous situations where they had to make the perfect plays due to misreads, bad angles, and miscommunication. The season is young enough for gameplans to be developed to match the players on the field, but in order for that to occur every member of the program must take a hard long look in the mirror to check to see if they fit the mold of a Michigan Man, if that’s the identity they are striving for.
2. Wisconsin is Legit
Going into the season the Badgers were ranked in the top 25, but they were the big unknown based upon last season’s disappointing record. The dark horse of the B1G West was Nebraska and the most dominant team in the division’s history had been written off for dead….apparently someone didn’t tell the Badgers. Going into the game against Michigan, they had allowed zero points while scoring 110 points; that trend continued as they didn’t allow points until the 3rd quarter. Jonathan Taylor reestablished himself as a true Heisman candidate rushing for 203 yards rushing for more than half of that in the 1st quarter, not to mention he missed almost half the game with a nagging injury. The improvement of quarterback Jack Coan in the passing game has given the Badgers the balance is has been searching for and could be the missing piece that could elevate them to finally winning a B1G Championship and potentially a playoff birth. The defensive performance to start the season has been of legendary proportions forcing 7 turnovers over the first 3 games while allowing only 81 rushing yards on the season. A stout defense with a methodical ball-control offense could have Badger Nation changing their New Years plans.
3. The Race is not Over
With the talent, the B1G has Wisconsin could be knocked off by a 2nd or 3rd tier team while Michigan could upset the likes of Michigan State or Ohio State. Neither scenario is probable, but stranger things have happened in recent years. Wisconsin could lose to MSU or Ohio State and still make the B1G Championship game while Michigan would have to run the table in orde to secure a spot. The B1G football season is long and full of ebbs and flows which will lead the 2nd half of the B1G season to be amazingly exciting. Circle your calendars for October 26th and November 30th respectively.