Three takeaways from Wisconsin’s blowout win over Illinois

·3 min read

Wisconsin is finally in the Big Ten win column after its 24-0 victory over the Illinois Fighting Illini today.

The team dominated on the ground, held the ball for nearly 43 minutes and was finally able to play an offensive game that can complement another dominant defensive performance.

It was a much-needed win with the Big Ten West still a far-out possibility. Oh, and the team defeated old friend Bret Bielema.

Diving deeper into some individual performances, we continued to see great signs all game long from Nick Herbig and others along the defensive front, the offensive line looked a lot better than last weekend and the run game dominated.

Graham Mertz had a few poor misfires, although some could’ve been due to the core injury he suffered last weekend.

A win is a win. Here are three initial takeaways from today’s contest:

This defensive front continues to be next-level good

Oct 9, 2021; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Wisconsin Badgers safety Collin Wilder (18) and teammate Matt Henningsen (92) tackle Illinois Fighting Illini running back Josh McCray (0) near the goal line in there first half at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois rushed for 336 yards last week and entered today averaging 182 yards on the ground.

The Wisconsin front held them to 13 carries for 26 yards. It was evident from the opening series: Illinois knew it had no chance running against the Badger front. The Fighting Illini started the game with a slew of pass attempts, and couldn’t muster anything on the ground all game.

Well they couldn’t really muster much of anything. But Wisconsin’s defensive front completely dictated the game.

The Badgers entered the contest allowing 45 yards on the ground. That average just got better.

The Braelon Allen game (featuring Chez Mellusi)

Oct 9, 2021; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) runs with the ball as Illinois Fighting Illini linebacker Khalan Tolson (45) pursues in the first half at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

How about Braelon Allen.

The 17-year-old true freshman carried the ball 18 times for 131 yards and 1 touchdown. He was the clear No. 2 running back from the start and looked pretty damn good.

He had speed, vision, burst and strength inside. We saw signs from the youngster today that bode extremely well for his future in the offense.

Then there’s Chez Mellusi who pitched in 145 yards of his own on 21 carries. Both top backs looked the part and made life easy for the struggling quarterback.

Also…we did not see Jalen Berger touch the ball today (for whatever reason). Mellusi and Allen have become the team’s clear 1-2 punch in the backfield.

Wisconsin can physically dominate inferior teams

Oct 9, 2021; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Paul Chryst on the sidelines during the first half of Saturday’s game with the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin’s season can be easily told by breaking up the team’s performances into two categories.

Against poor opponents (Illinois, Eastern Michigan): the Badgers dominate inside on both sides of the ball, run over the opponent and look like a completely different team physically.

Against good teams (Penn State, Notre Dame, Michigan): the Badger offensive line has struggled, the run game hasn’t been great and the offense has struggled as a result.

I mean yea, Wisconsin looked really good today.

But we’re learning who this offense is at this point in the season: a unit that relies on physical domination up front. When they get it, the game is a no-contest. But when they’re met with a stout defense, the group as a whole struggles to maintain consistency.

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