Posted on September 21, 2019, by Travis Pulver
Saturday’s game between the Michigan Wolverines and Wisconsin Badgers held a lot of significance for both programs. The winner would likely move into the top-10 when the new rankings come out, and would also be mentioned as a legitimate threat to make the College Football Playoffs.
However, from the start, it was pretty clear that Michigan would not be that team as the offense struggled, and the defense couldn’t stop Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor.
Last year, the Michigan defense held Taylor to just 101 yards for the game. But this year, the Wolverines defense couldn’t stop him. He ended up rushing for 143 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter alone to help the Badgers take an early 14-0 lead.
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Cramps took him out for the second quarter, but the Wisconsin offense didn’t miss a beat. They tacked on two more touchdowns and led 28-0 at the half.
The Badgers took it easy on the Wolverines the rest of the way and only scored once in the third quarter. Michigan finally got on the board in the third quarter and added another touchdown in garbage time to make the final 35-14, Wisconsin.
“We were outplayed, out-prepared, outcoached, the whole thing both offensively and defensively,” Harbaugh said, via ESPN. “It was thorough.”
The Michigan offense struggled to get started and hold on to the ball in the first (two turnovers; one interception and one fumble). Their issues led Harbaugh to bench quarterback Shea Patterson for Dylan McCaffrey. But Harbaugh had no choice but to go back to Patterson in the second half after McCaffrey had to leave the game following a hit from Wisconsin safety Reggie Pearson.
Patterson’s struggles continued as he ended up going 14-32 for 219 yards and two touchdowns along with one interception.
“We’ve got a lot to fix,” Harbaugh said after the game. “We want to be able to run the ball and throw the ball both equally and efficient. The little things we’ve got to do, we’ve got to do better.”
Taylor did return to the game after dealing with his cramps and ended up carrying the ball 23 times for 203 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Wisconsin ground game ended up racking up 359 yards on the night and accounted for all five touchdowns.
They got enough out of the passing game as Jack Coan completed 13 of 16 passes for 128 yards. He also had two of the team’s five rushing touchdowns.
Any hopes Michigan had of making the playoffs likely died with the loss. While they aren’t eliminated, of course, they would have to beat Penn State, Notre Dame, Ohio State and then record a convincing win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship to have a shot.
But with how they have looked this season, they are more likely to lose all three and not make the Big Ten title game.
Wisconsin, on the other hand, has a shot at making the playoffs if they can beat Ohio State. However, with only two games against ranked opponents the rest of the way, their schedule may not be impressive enough to earn a slot.
Next up for the Badgers will be Northwestern next weekend. Michigan will try to get back on the right side of the scoreboard when they take on Rutgers.