MADISON, Wis. – Michigan State was the better team for about 2½ minutes Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.
To be precise, the Spartans prevented No. 8 Wisconsin from scoring on its opening series of the game for the first time all season.
After that? The Badgers were the superior team on both sides of the ball and remained unbeaten with a 38-0 victory in front of an announced crowd of 80,470.
The shutout was the fourth this season for Wisconsin, which has outscored its opponents by a combined, 255-29, AND COUNTING.
Wisconsin wide receivers Quintez Cephus (87) and Kendric Pryor celebrate after a touchdown catch by Cephus during the first half against Michigan State at Camp Randall Stadium. (Photo: Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
The Badgers had five shutouts in 1930 – against Carleton, Chicago, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Ohio State (scoreless tie).
Paul Chryst wasn’t born in 1930 but on Saturday he saw his football team use a ball-control offense and another remarkable defensive performance to improve to 3-0 in the Big Ten and 6-0 overall. The Spartans (4-3, 2-2) played hard on defense but their offense was overmatched from start to finish.
Wisconsin rebounded from not scoring on its opening series with a pair of 75-yard touchdown drives and a 52-yard field-goal drive to build a 17-0 halftime lead.
That pushed its first-half scoring advantage this season to an incredible 152-3.
Quarterback Jack Coan completed 3 of 3 passes for 47 yards on a 12-play, 75-yard drive in the opening quarter to help the Badgers take a 7-0 lead. He then hit Quintez Cephus for 19 yards to cap a five-play, 75 yard-drive for a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. Coan helped cap the first-half scoring by completing 5 of 6 passes for 32 yards, which led to Collin Larsh’s 29-yard field goal with 4 minutes 30 seconds left in the half.
The first-half numbers were brutal for Michigan State fans and beautiful for Wisconsin fans.
The Badgers gained 198 yards compared to 38 for Michigan State; had 13 first downs to one for the Spartans; and held the ball for 23:26 compared to just 6:34 for the Spartans.
Tailback Jonathan Taylor had to fight on almost every play but capped Wisconsin’s first scoring drive with a 1-yard run. He was held to 80 yards on 26 carries — the first time he has failed to reach the 100-yard mark this season. Taylor needs 4 yards to hit the 5,000-yard career.
Coan finished 18 of 21 for 180 yards, with one touchdown. His numbers through six games: 103 for 135 (76.3%) for 1,119 yards, with eight touchdowns and just one interception.
Wisconsin’s offense sputtered a bit after halftime but a mammoth 15-play, 92-yard touchdown march helped push the lead to 24-0, Zack Baun’s 24-yard interception return for a touchdown helped the Badgers push the lead to 31-0 and Kendric Pryor’s 66-yard dash on a jet sweep left Michigan State staring at a 38-0 deficit with 10:52 left.
Baun’s touchdown was the fourth this season for the UW defense, which did not record a touchdown in 13 games last season.