Michigan rolls to a 38-17 win as Wisconsin’s offense sputters again

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It was only for the briefest of moments, but Wisconsin’s offense finally woke up late in the first half of their 38-17 loss to Michigan. Graham Mertz connected on a pair of long throws to Chimere Dike, the second of which resulted in the Badger QB’s most impressive touchdown since his first career start. Wisconsin had suddenly pulled to within 13-10 just before half with momentum firmly on their side.

Then the second half began. In a similar script to the Notre Dame game, the Badgers fell apart late as Michigan rolled to victory. This time it wasn’t Mertz’s play, but a Mertz injury on the first drive of the second half that changed the complexion of things at Camp Randall. On third down of their first second half series, the Badger QB took a shot to the ribs on a play where TE Jake Ferguson also exited with an injury. Neither would return.

Early on, it was more of the same on both sides of the football for the Badgers. Michigan and Wisconsin traded a series of punts before Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines dialed up some trickery. Michigan opened the scoring on a flea flicker from QB Cade McNamara to WR Cornelius Johnson late in the first quarter.

A Wisconsin special teams miscue handed Michigan three points as Jim Leonhard’s defense held strong in the red zone, and late in the first half the Badger offense found their rhythm. After not completing a pass throughout the entire first quarter, Mertz completed five straight passes to set up a field goal late in the second quarter.

After Wisconsin pulled to 10-3 and the Wolverines responded with a quick field goal drive, the Badgers had just over 40 seconds to go the length of the field. Mertz completed arguably the two best passes of his career, both of which went to Dike, to get Wisconsin within 3 points before half.

Wisconsin had the football coming out of halftime, but the Badgers went three and out as the offensive line struggled to protect Mertz. The final play of the drive resulted in an incompletion and Mertz taking a massive hit to the ribs. The Badger QB would not return and Michigan would control things from there.

With backup QB Chase Wolf in for the Badgers, Wisconsin’s offense failed to move the football aside from a late touchdown throw to Clay Cundiff with the game already decided. Michigan took advantage of two Wolf turnovers as the Wolverines scored 25 unanswered points to open the second half.

Wisconsin fell to 1-3 on the year and remain winless in the Big Ten (0-2). Michigan improved to 5-0, and currently sit at 2-0 in the Big Ten.