Jim Polzin grades the Wisconsin Badgers’ performance Saturday in their 20-14 win over the Army Black Knights at Camp Randall Stadium.
Graham Mertz’s fumble on the opening series of the game was his 10th turnover of the season and he nearly threw an interception in the third quarter. Freshman tailback Braelon Allen ran hard and went over 100 yards for the second consecutive week. Bottom line: Five punts and a turnover in nine full possessions isn’t going to cut it most weeks.
The Badgers held Army to 48 total yards in the first half, but the Black Knights ran to the outside more after halftime and it gave UW fits. Inside linebacker Leo Chenal had an all-time performance, finishing with 17 tackles, 2½ tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble that made life for the Badgers much less stressful late in the game.
Special teams: C+
Dean Engram’s decision to fair catch a low punt at the 5-yard line in the first quarter was a poor decision. UW also had an extra point blocked in the second quarter and that could have proved costly. The Badgers executed a fake punt in the second quarter, with linebacker Jack Sanborn picking up 8 yards on fourth-and-1. Sanborn also recovered Army’s onside kick late in the game.
Paul Chryst was getting booed when he sent the punt unit on the field in the second quarter. But Chryst redeemed himself with his decision to call a fake. Bonus points to defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard for a solid performance by the Badgers against a rare offense.
The Badgers appeared to be on their way to an easy win but let Army back in the game in the second half. All in all, it was another less-than-satisfying showing from UW.
BY THE NUMBERS
UW’s opening scoring drive covered 95 yards, the program's first scoring drive that covered at least 95 yards since going 96 yards on six plays against Minnesota in 2019.
Tight end Jake Ferguson extended his record for consecutive games with a reception when he hauled in a Mertz pass in the first quarter. Ferguson has caught a pass in 40 consecutive games.
Army did not attempt a pass in the first half. The Black Knights’ first attempt came less than a minute into the third quarter.
Opponents went 113 minutes, 45 seconds between scores against the Badgers. The streak started in the fourth quarter against Michigan, continued through the shutout of Illinois and ended with 11:22 left in the fourth quarter against Army.