The disappointing season for the Wisconsin Badgers continued on Saturday as they fell to 1-3 on the season and 0-2 in Big Ten play with a 38-17 loss to the Michigan Wolverines.
The same themes from the first three games continued this week: poor offensive line play, a lack of a running game, not enough big plays, turnovers, and a strong defense that holds up well but falters late to put the game further out of hand.
Badgers QB Graham Mertz started off rough, not completing his first pass until the second quarter. But he got in a little bit of a groove towards the end of the first half, finding receiver Chimere Dike for 36 yards over the middle, and then Dike again in the corner of the endzone for an 18 yard touchdown pass. That brought the Badgers deficit to just 13-10 going into the half with Wisconsin receiving the second half kickoff.
However, that momentum was brought to a swift halt in the third quarter. On the first possession of the half, Mertz was hit hard on a sack and left the game with a chest injury. He would not return. Star tight end Jake Ferguson also left the game with a chest injury and did not return.
After losing those two key offensive starters, the Badgers offense stalled. Backup QB Chase Wolf came into the game and had some good throws, but also had a fumble and threw an interception.
Michigan continued to pile on and while the Badgers defense held up well in the first half, they buckled in the second half and just couldn't hold the Wolverines back any longer as they pulled away.
Towards the end of the game, Wolf threw a beautiful pass over the middle to tight end Clay Cundiff for a touchdown to bring the game to 38-17, and while it's a nice confidence booster, it was too little, too late.
This is the first time the Badgers have started a season 1-3 since 1990.
Next week, Wisconsin takes on Illinois and hopes to stave off a 1-4 start.