How Dominant Is The Wisconsin Defense?
By: Tony Thomas October 15, 2019
There are a few teams in college football this season that have pretty good defenses. But one team, in particular, is head and shoulders above all the rest: the Wisconsin Badgers.
Wisconsin, currently ranked #6 in the AP Poll and coached by Paul Chryst, has been one of the most dominant teams defensively we have seen in years. The numbers speak for themselves. In the first 6 games this season, the Badgers:
- Recorded 4 shutouts, outscoring those four opponents 196-0, and allowed less than 3 yards per play.
- Allowed just 29 points scored against them.
- Are ranked #1 in scoring defense at 4.8 points per game.
- Are ranked #1 in rushing defense, allowing just 44 yards per game.
- Are ranked #1 in pass defense, allowing 129 yards per game.
- Are ranked #1 in total defense, allowing just 173 yards per game.
- Are ranked #1 in opponents 3rd down conversion %, allowing opponents to convert only 15% of the time.
- Are ranked #2 in opponents red zone conversion %, allowing opponents to score just 50% of the time.
- Are ranked #4 in turnover margin at +9.
- Have recorded 23 sacks.
- Have recorded 8 INTs.
Case in point, week 2 against Central Michigan. The Chippewas ran 44 plays and gained only 75 yards of total offense, 32 rushing yards, and 43 passing yards, for an average of just 1.7 yards per play. Oh, and they gained only 3 first downs.
To say that teams have had trouble running the ball against the Badgers would be a serious understatement. In 5 of the 6 games this season, Wisconsin has held opponents to 60 yards or less rushing the football:
- USF (26 yards)
- Michigan (40 yards)
- Kent State (60 yards)
- Central Michigan (32 yards)
- Michigan State (30 yards)
Of those 23 sacks listed above, half of them have been made by senior linebackers Zack Baun (6) and Chris Orr (5). And DB Eric Burrell has 2 of the 8 interceptions.
Wisconsin’s toughest games remaining are against 3 teams that are currently a combined 16-2: at Ohio State on October 26th, against Iowa on November 9th, and at Minnesota on November 30th.
If there is a comparable team to the Badgers on defense, it’s Ohio State, which leads the nation in sacks with 28 and ranks in the top ten in most major defensive categories.
When these two teams meet in two weeks, Wisconsin will have to come up with a hell of a gameplan to stop QB Justin Fields and the high-powered Buckeye offense.
Mixed in with those are 3 games against opponents whose combined record stands at 8-11: at Illinois this Saturday, at Nebraska on November 16th, and against Purdue at home to close out the regular season.
Wisconsin has put itself in the college football playoff conversation. The second half of the season should be interesting and we will see if their stellar defensive play can hold up in the coming weeks.
Thanks for reading.