Wisconsin Badgers football: four takeaways from the loss to Michigan

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fairly easy
A look back at what stood out from the Michigan game.
Saturday was a day of firsts in many ways. The Wisconsin Badgers (1-3 overall, 0-2 Big Ten) lost to Michigan at home for the first time since 2001. As a result, the Badgers find themselves with a 1-3 record for the first time since 1990.

Interestingly enough, 1990 was the first year under former head coach and athletic director Barry Alvarez, who was honored throughout the game in recognition for what he accomplished to build the Wisconsin program up in both positions.

Beyond the rough start to the season and the festivities surrounding Barry Alvarez Day, there was still plenty to glean from the performance on Saturday.

Let's take a look back at four takeaways from the game.

Improvement from Mertz

Quarterback Graham Mertz displayed measured improvements in this game. Even with the offensive line on skates against the Michigan defensive front, Mertz appeared to get his mojo back in the second quarter.

Mertz led back-to-back scoring drives for the offense and made the types of throws that he missed against Penn State and Notre Dame. For example, Mertz missed Chimere Dike on a four-verts scheme against Penn State to win the game, but he delivered a strike to Dike on the same play for a crucial 36-yard toss to set up a touchdown (also to Dike) late in the second quarter. Those were the types of throws that he has done in practice, and it was promising to see him do it against a tough Michigan team.

Mertz put together a gritty performance that should elevate confidence in him moving forward. Even after the offense stalled the first few drives and got booed, he rallied back and made some tremendous throws. He looked more confident and in control.

Unfortunately, things went sideways in the early third quarter when he sustained what appeared to be a rib injury on a huge hit by Daxton Hill who was left unblocked. Mertz did not return and was sent to the hospital for further observation. His status for the Illinois game is up in the air, but hopefully, he will be…
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