It was a slow start for the Wisconsin offense, as the Badgers only managed to find the end zone once against the porous Running Rebel defense in the first half. Donovan was held in single digits passing until he broke loose on Wisconsin's last drive of the first half, completing six passes for 86 yards.
Unlike last week, P.J. Hill was the major workhorse of the offense, carrying the ball 30 times for 147 yards. Hill didn't shy away from contact either, constantly using his large physical nature to pound into the smaller Rebel secondary. Although he didn't make it into the end zone, Hill was the hands-down star of the game.
The bottom line is that Wisconsin was ten times better than the UNLV defense and simply did not perform like they did last week against Washington State. The Badgers did run the ball with a lot of success (racking up 213 yards on the ground), but simply could not cash in on scoring chances. With less than 30 seconds remaining in the first half, the Badgers had three golden opportunities to put a touchdown on the board and couldn't cash in.
For an offense that has averaged 32.5 points per game since the start of the 2005 season, 20 points against the porous Rebels is a step backwards.
If it wasn't for Tyler Donovan's 29-yard naked bootleg, Wisconsin wouldn't be 2-0.
Final Grade: C -
Two first quarters equals two bad starts. Wisconsin's defense looked dismal again against another mobile quarterback in week two. Redshirt Travis Dixon torched the Badgers for 258 passing yards. Wisconsin also could not contain junior Casey Flair, who caught 10 passes for 126 yards. The Badgers went up against a one-dimensional team in the desert and struggled to shut them down.
Wisconsin's defense was able to force one turnover for the second-straight game, when junior Shane Carter intercepted his first collegiate pass. In the long run, the Badgers continually failed to stop the Rebels on third down (7-for-15 on third down), allowing UNLV to make 16 first downs – 12 through the air – and rack up over 300 yards of total offense. Wisconsin needs a better effort next week against The Citadel, a team that won 72-0 this week.
Final Grade: C
For the first time in their last 24 attempts, Ken DeBauche and Taylor Mehlhaff failed to convert on an extra-point attempt. The snap from Dave Peck hit DeBauche right in the hands, but the senior punter fumbled the ball as he went to transfer the ball to the ground.
DeBauche punted better against UNLV in much windier conditions than last week, averaging 37.8 yards on five punts, but still is not up to the same form he was as a sophomore.
Mehlhaff connected on his first field goal of the season, a 27-yard chip shot at the end of the first half and nailed a 51 yard field goal (one away from his career long). Mehlhaff's opening kickoff traveled through the end zone, marking the senior's fifth kickoff to be downed for a touchback since the kicking tees were moved back five yards.
Freshman David Gilreath looked sharp in his second week returning kickoffs. Gilreath fielded two kicks for 49 yards with his longest return going for 38. Senior Luke Swan improved from his week one punt return performance to average nine yards on three punt returns.
Wisconsin's special teams, especially Taylor Mehlhaff, won this game for the Badgers.
Final Grade: B