MADISON — Wisconsin threw for 400 yards for the first time since 1993 on its way to a dominating 61-0 win over Central Michigan on Saturday afternoon at Camp Randall Stadium.
The good: QB Jack Coan
Making his sixth career start, but his first at home, the junior quarterback had himself a day. Coan threw for 363 yards and three touchdowns as Wisconsin topped the 60-point mark for the first time in five years. The yards were the fifth-most in school history and the second-most in a game the Badgers won.
It wasn’t just the number of yards, though, it was the way he got them. Inside the hashes, outside the hashes, slants, outs and, yes, the deep ball. After missing on two big shots against South Florida, Coan laid two pretty passes right on wide receiver Quintez Cephus for a pair of touchdowns. He also protected the ball and hasn’t thrown an interception in his last 68 attempts, while throwing five touchdowns in that same stretch.
The offense through two weeks has been what many expected from last year’s group. That didn’t materialize for a variety of reasons, but with Coan’s clear growth the unit has a chance to be a big problem for a lot of teams moving forward.
The not so good: Two-minute offense
Paul Chryst didn’t like how his team ran the two-minute offense at end of the first half against South Florida last week, even though they did manage to get in the end zone. It’s why he was taking timeouts late in the first half on Saturday despite being up 44-0. He wanted to give his guys another chance. They did not take advantage, moving the ball just 25 yards in six plays and having to settle for a 51-yard field goal that Collin Larsh missed.
Prior to the game, two Central Michigan players, along with coach Jim McElwain, said some things that could have been construed as trash talk:
Central Michigan coach Jim McElwain on playing No. 17 Wisconsin:
"Look, they have no idea what's about to come. I feel really good about these guys and the preparation."
— Evan Petzold (@EvanPetzold) September 5, 2019
It turns out, Wisconsin players, including Chris Orr, saw the quotes and it provided some extra motivation.
Chris Orr admitted he’d be lying if he said these comments didn’t serve as some motivation.
“All they did is add extra fire.” pic.twitter.com/RNhCorXsaA
— Zach Heilprin (@ZachHeilprin) September 8, 2019
Several more players took to Twitter after the game to react:
In Case You Missed It
— Former Badgers running back Brian Calhoun served as the honorary captain for the coin toss.
— Former Wisconsin great Joe Thomas was inducted into the Wisconsin Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night and recognized during halftime of Saturday’s game.
— Cephus caught the first two touchdowns of his season. It came roughly 22 months since his last touchdown in November 2017 against Indiana. The junior also set career highs in catches (6) and receiving yards (130).
— Much-hyped freshman quarterback Graham Mertz made his debut in the third quarter. He missed his first throw, but hit on his other four for 35 yards and led the Badgers final touchdown drive of the day. Mertz can play in up to four games and keep his redshirt year. He said that while no decision has been made on that, he does expect to redshirt this year.
— Due to injuries, freshman nose tackle Keanu Benton, senior right tackle David Moorman and junior outside linebacker Noah Burks each made their first career starts.
— Five true freshmen have now played in at least one game: Benton (2), LB Leo Chenal (2), Mertz (1), TE Clay Cundiff (1) and CB Semar Melvin (1).
— Wide receiver Kendric Pryor suffered an upper body injury in the first half and did not return to the game. He was spotted on the sideline in the second half and was dancing when Jump Around was played between the third and fourth quarter.
— Safety Scott Nelson missed the game with a leg injury. He announced on Twitter afterwards that he would miss the rest of the season.
Jeremiah 29:11❤️ On, Wisconsin🦡 pic.twitter.com/4SyI2U8l6O
— Scotty Nelson (@_scottnelson) September 8, 2019
Inside the Numbers
110-0 — That’s how much Wisconsin has out-scored its first two opponents by and are the only FBS team not to allow a single point this season. They are also the first team since 1980 to score at least 100 points and not allow a single point in their first two games.
58 — That’s how many yards Central Michigan had. It’s the second-fewest Wisconsin has ever allowed in a game.
541 — That’s the yardage difference between Wisconsin and Central Michigan — the largest gap in school history.
8 — That’s how many touchdowns Jonathan Taylor has in just two games after he scored another four (three running, one receiving) on Saturday. He’s averaging a touchdown every fifth time he touches the ball.
564 — That’s how many yards Coan has thrown for in the first two games. That’s already more than he threw for in the five games he played in last season.
11 — That’s how many different Badgers caught at least one pass — the most in an single game in at least the last three seasons.
The Badgers (2-0) get a bye week before Big Ten play starts when Michigan (2-0) comes to Madison on Sept. 21.