Sep 3, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) celebrates following a touchdown during the third quarter against the Illinois State Redbirds at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 3, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) celebrates following a touchdown during the third quarter against the Illinois State Redbirds at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Badgers Defeat Northwestern 42-7 in Leonhard’s Debut

A dominating five-touchdown performance from Graham Mertz and a terrific showing from the Badgers’ defense gave Wisconsin the 42-7 win over the Northwestern Wildcats in Evanston on Saturday. This was Mertz’s second five-touchdown game in his collegiate career, making him the only quarterback in program history to ever achieve such a feat.

Following the win in Evanston, the Badgers are now 1-0 under interim head coach Jim Leonhard, who took over the head coach position following last week’s firing of former head coach Paul Chryst.

Mertz’s Big Day

Graham Mertz entered Saturday’s game with eight touchdowns on the season.

Mertz nearly doubled that number at Ryan Field on Saturday.

The redshirt junior quarterback finished the day with 299 passing yards and five touchdown passes. He outdueled Northwestern’s two quarterbacks, Brendan Sullivan and Ryan Hilinski, who combined for 261 yards and no touchdowns. Mertz’s totals gave him season-highs in both passing yards and touchdowns, as well as his third-highest passer rating on the year at 212.47 (142.09 in NFL terms).

Mertz connected with junior wide receiver Chimere Dike on three of his touchdowns including a 52-yard reception to begin the second quarter.

Dike’s big game gave him new season and career-highs in receptions (10), receiving yards (185), and touchdowns in a single game (3).

What’s Next?

Following Saturday’s game, the Badgers will head to East Lansing, Michigan to face the Michigan State Spartans. The Spartans sit at 2-4 (0-3 in conference matchups) and are in sixth place in the Big Ten east standings. The game kicks off at 3:00 p.m. CST and will be aired on FOX.


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