Michigan-Wisconsin grades: Defense powers Wolverines to win

The biggest takeaways and highest-graded players from Michigan's win over Wisconsin.

| 3 weeks ago

Michigan-Wisconsin grades: Defense powers Wolverines to win

Michigan Wolverines 14, Wisconsin Badgers 7

Here are the biggest takeaways and highest-graded players from the Wolverine’s 14-7 win over the Badgers.

Michigan Wolverines

Quarterback grade: Wilton Speight, 62.6

Speight continually puts ball in harm’s way

If Michigan is looking for a “game manager” to pair with their dominant defense, Speight wasn’t that against Wisconsin. He had the one interception, though he had two more that clanged off defenders hands and should have been picked — including one in the endzone. He did get some redemption though with his fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Amara Darboh that was easily the best throw for either QB on the day.

Top offensive grades:

G Kyle Kalis, 79.5
C Mason Cole, 70.9
RB Ty Isaac, 69.7
WR Grant Perry, 69.5
WR Amara Darboh, 68.6

Offense makes just enough plays to get the win

It wasn’t always pretty, but Michigan got enough standout performances from some unlikely sources to grab the win. Ty Isaac was fantastic spelling De’Veon Smith with a handful of superb cuts that found daylight from a struggling Michigan offensive line. Then there was Amara Darboh, who despite a drop, still led the Wolverines in receiving yards while seeing over a third of Speight’s targeted passes on the day.

Top defensive grades:

CB Jourdan Lewis, 87.0
DT Ryan Glasgow, 86.4
CB Channing Stribling, 82.1
DE Chris Wormley, 75.9
DE Taco Charlton, 75.8

Business as usual for the Wolverines’ defense

It was a true team effort, but two players stood out above the rest for the Michigan defense. Ryan Glasgow was the definition of unblockable and took the Wisconsin interior to task. If you want to know the correct way to play double teams as an interior lineman, watch Glasgow’s play from Saturday. He may have only had two run stops, but ruined multiple run plays by eating up both ends of a double team and stalling it at the line of scrimmage. Cornerback Jourdan Lewis was the other standout and there’s not much more to say about his performance that wasn’t obvious live. Zero catches on two targets and a game ending one-handed interception.

Wisconsin Badgers

Quarterback grade: Alex Hornibrook, 47.1

Hornibrook’s accuracy all over the place

That was about as ugly a quarterback matchup as you’ll see in high-level college football. Hornibrook simply couldn’t hit any sort of receiver open down the field. He went 2-15 on passes targeted 10+ yards down the field and Hornibrook’s adjusted completion percentage of 50 was among the worst marks in college football this week.

Top offensive grades:

RB Dare Ogunbowal, 64.6
RB Corey Clement, 56.6
WR Robert Wheelwright, 55.4
WR Jazz Peavy, 51.5
T Ryan Ramczyk, 49.1

Little success to speak of for Badgers’ offense

While Hornibrook’s shortcomings obviously stand out the most, it was most definitely a group effort offensively. The line couldn’t block, the running backs couldn’t make people miss (two broken tackles on 24 attempts), and the receivers couldn’t catch (three drops on 10 catchable passes). It was a trifecta of offensive futility.

Top defensive grades:

ILB Jack Cichy, 86.8
S Leo Musso, 82.1
S D’Cota Dixon, 81.6
DT Chikwe Obasih, 78.0
OLB Garrett Dooley, 77.9

Linebackers key defensive dominance

For as unimpressive as the Wisconsin offense was, the defense was equally impressive. They put the clamps down routinely in third-down situations and ended the game with four sacks. The key to the defense, as it’s been all season, was their fantastic linebackers. Garrett Dooley and T.J. Watt would set a hard outside edge and then Jack Cichy and T.J. Edwards would clean it up inside. The group combined for 19 stops and four sacks on the day.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Michigan Cornerback Jourdan Lewis

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

  • Michael Burry

    Is Wisconsin for real, or are they a fraud like all the other Big Ten teams that aren’t Ohio State and Michigan?

    • Joe Doe

      As a UW alum, I am asking that question anytime they make it to the top 10. They got some help from the Michigan kicking game but surprisingly kept it close without their best player.