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Sunday, December 03, 2023

Quintez Cephus has already had a huge impact on the Badger offense after being forced to sit out for a year.

Big win against Central Michigan gives Badgers momentum going into tough game against Wolverines

There was visible excitement and emotion shown from the Badgers after their dominant performance for a second straight week, and the team had all the reason to be ecstatic. 

Wisconsin played at Camp Randall for the first time this season, and showed just how good they can be. 

In the days leading up to the showdown with Central Michigan at Camp Randall, players were already getting pumped. 

”It’s electrifying. It should be really fun. Been waiting for it for nine months. Finally, get to come back home to our fans in camp Randall. It’s one of the best stadiums in the world,” said running back Jonathan Taylor. 

The Badgers were excited to return to Madison after a disappointing 2018 season in which the team went 8-5 overall, but 5-2 at home. 

With far fewer expectations this season, Wisconsin has raised a few eyebrows and shocked people on the outside, as the Badgers have been completely dominant through two weeks. 

The defense opened the game allowing a three-yard pass that would go for a first down, but the Chippewas first drive would end on a Zach Baun sack just three plays later. 

That first down throw from quarterback Quinten Dormady would be one of just three the Badgers gave up all afternoon. 

The offense joined in on the fun and put on a show of their own. They easily drove down the field going eight plays for 83 yards capped off by a familiar sight as Heisman hopeful, Jonathan Taylor got into the end zone on a four-yard run.

On the drive, the offense had no negative yardage. Jack Coan who had been scrutinized throughout the whole offseason went 3-for-3 for 27 yards, while Taylor had five carries for 36 yards and a catch for four yards.

Those two would have their way all game on an afternoon where the offense could do no wrong. 

The guys on the offense all made it clear the importance of becoming more balanced, because of how much more dangerous that would make Wisconsin. 

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“We want to be more versatile and balanced this year” said offensive lineman Tyler Biadasz.

Kendric Pryor continued to harp on that over the offseason adding, “In order to be a great team, we have to be able to run the ball and pass the ball. When people look at the Wisconsin schedule, they think OK, how are we going to stop JT. We kind of want to change that to how are we going to stop Wisconsin’s offense, not just JT…  If we can do that, we have something special”

Jack Coan was more than Central Michigan could handle and was special all game. 

Coan threw for 363 yards and 3 touchdowns, which is the fifth most passing yards thrown in a single game in UW history, leaving any quarterback controversy in the past. He led the offense to a day in which they were one yard short from a 600-yard day. 

“He’s a baller,” said Graham Mertz of Coan.

After hearing all about the two deep balls they missed, Coan and Cephus were able to connect on not one, but two deep balls that went for touchdowns. 

Cephus had a triumphant return to Camp Randall, having the game of his life after hauling in 6 catches for 130 yards and two scores. 

Taylor noted that he’s better than he was in 2017, and it was fully on display. But Taylor noted how impressive the receivers have been all year. 

“They haven’t seen a receiving core in Wisconsin like this in a long time, probably ever,” he said.

While the offense was clicking all day, the defense pitched another shutout, and is now the only FBS team to not allow a point. Wisconsin is also first in total defense, second in pass yards allowed and second in rushing defense after two weeks. 

Even with three starters out this week, the defense did not miss a beat. “We know we can kind of plug and play anybody we’re gonna get the same results,” said linebacker Noah Burks. 

The leader in the middle, Chris Orr added, “whoever is rotating in, you want to make sure to keep that zero up.” 

“Zero is a lot different from a three to us,” linebacker Jack Sanborn said.

The defense was busy all afternoon forcing a turnover and allowing only 58 yards of offense to the Chippewas. However on the bright side for Central Michigan, punter Brady Buell won special teams player of the week in the Mid-American Conference after he put up 407 total punting yards.

Looking ahead, the competition gets stiffer as Wisconsin opens up Big Ten play in two weeks by welcoming the Michigan Wolverines to town. UW plays it’s next four games at home, three against powerhouses Michigan, Northwestern and Michigan State. 

“It’s definitely going to be fun, we can’t wait to show everyone who we are,” Chris Orr said when asked about the challenge of welcoming Michigan to Camp Randall.

The Badgers will be tested but if the team wants to contend for a Big Ten Championship, they’ll have to show everyone they can win in big games. With a bye week ahead, Wisconsin should have plenty of time to gear up for an upset win September 21st.

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