PISCATAWAY, NJ – NOVEMBER 06 : Head coach Paul Chryst of the Wisconsin Badgers talks with quarterback Graham Mertz (5) during a game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at SHI Stadium on November 6, 2021 in Piscataway, New Jersey. Wisconsin defeated Rutgers 52-3. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Football: Report Card for Week 5 loss vs. Illinois

Wisconsin Football: Report Card for Week 5 loss vs. Illinois

Wisconsin football suffered a horrific defeat on Saturday, falling 34-10 to the Illinois Fighting Illini on Saturday.

This one stings quite a bit and should leave many fans of the program physically ill.  To lose like this to the Buckeyes is one thing, but against a fellow Big Ten West team, a team Wisconsin should’ve used as a bounce-back game, is rotten.

Credit should be given to Bret Bielema and Illinois, however.  They came into Camp Randall Stadium and handled business across the board.  Bielema’s first return to Madison since 2012 was an extreme success for the Illini and leave the Badgers in one of the worst spots the program has been in, in years.

This loss leaves the Badgers with an 0-2 record in conference play, and 2-3 overall.  That’s good enough for dead last in the Big Ten West standings.

Grading out the Badger Football team shouldn’t be too tough, as not many positives came out of this game, or many of the recent ones.  Below is the report card for week 5.


Offense: F

The opening drive to this game was not an accurate reflection of how this game would turn out in any way, shape, or form.  Quarterback Graham Mertz took the offense down the field and connected with running back Isaac Guerendo with a beautiful pass for the touchdown.  All is well so far.

Things would then take a turn for the worst.  The offense would total 208 yards for the game, which includes the stellar opening drive.  Even more upsetting, the Badgers rushing offense would total just 2 (!) yards.  No one in the backfield would have more than 8 rushing attempts, with Braelon Allen leading the way.  He would only have 2 yards gained by himself, however.

The rushing attack is usually a strength for the program, and a good amount of credit is usually given to the offensive line.  Against Illinois, however, they looked very different, and did not play a complete or effective game.

With the line not playing up to standards, and the rushing attack stalled, it was only a matter of time for the passing attack to slow down.  Exactly that happened, with Mertz finishing the day with a total QBR of 30.4, completing 17-of-31 throws for 206 yards, the lone touchdown on the opening drive, and 2 interceptions.

The receiving core may have been the only spot to smile at, but even they can’t take away the sting.  Wide receiver Chimere Dike and tight end Jack Eschenback would both haul in 5 passes, with Dike leading the charge with 76 receiving yards.

The cherry on top of this abysmal grade goes along with the backfield, again.  It’s hard to imagine things could get worse when they totaled two yards with a backfield led by Braelon Allen, one of the top backs in the country coming in to the season, but it does.  Running Back Isaac Guerendo added to the turnover count, fumbling, and losing, the ball.


Defense: F

The Wisconsin Badger defense, led by Jim Leonhard, was not any better for the overall grade of the team.  While having three turnovers on offense won’t do the defense any favors, this unit still underperformed on a massive scale.

Illinois quarterback Tommy DeVito had a nice day, finishing with a QBR of 86.6.  This came from a day where DeVito went 18-of-24 with 167 yards and three rushing touchdowns.  No passing touchdowns came with this, but neither did any interceptions.

The Illini rushing attack also had a nice day, with running back Chase Brown doing the most damage.  Brown would carry the ball 25 times for 129 yards and a touchdown.

Wisconsin’s defense was not able to force any turnovers on the day either.  Hard to come out with a win losing the turnover battle 3-0.


Coaching: F

The matchup came with emotions on both sides of the field.  Bret Bielema was coming back to Madison for the first time since his departure, and Wisconsin was coming off an embarrassing loss to the Buckeyes the week prior.  Both were motivated to come into this matchup and perform.  Bielema just so happened to be the winner here and did so in convincing fashion.

Coach Paul Chryst was outperformed in every aspect of the game.  His players were undisciplined, unmotivated, and seriously lacked any creativity or drive.  This game was a sure-fire stamp that his seat should be hot.  The Badgers program looks bad, and the outlook can only be described as stale, at best.  The boos in Camp Randall Stadium should’ve made that loud and clear.


Overall: F

There is nothing positive to come out of this game.  Everything was bad.  Something needs to change.


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MADISON, WISCONSIN – SEPTEMBER 17: Braelon Allen #0 of the Wisconsin Badgers scores on a 39-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against the New Mexico State Aggies at Camp Randall Stadium on September 17, 2022 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Badgers: Studs and Duds vs. Illinois

The Wisconsin Badgers (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten) fell to the Illinois Fighting Illini (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten) 34-10 on Saturday afternoon.

The Badgers looked disjointed all around. Now 0-2 in conference play, Wisconsin is on a backslide.

Here are the studs and duds from Saturday’s loss.

Stud(s):

The Wisconsin Badgers offense (on the first drive)

After being blown out by Ohio State, the Wisconsin Badgers needed to come out swinging on Saturday, and they did just that. While the rest of the game didn’t pan out, the first drive was great for the Badger offense.

Senior running back Isaac Guerendo had a solid opening kickoff return that gave Wisconsin excellent field position. Graham Mertz quickly stepped up, completing all four of his passes for 54 yards on the first drive. The drive was capped off with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Mertz to Guerendo, putting the Badgers up 7-0 in just under a minute.

Quickly after the first drive, UW’s offense began to crash and burn. Wisconsin would only put up three more points in the next 59 minutes.

While there were very few positives to take away from this game, the Badger’s first drive was well put together and looked like something the Badgers could build off of. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Duds

The Wisconsin Badgers run game

Wisconsin is a program built on establishing the run, and they failed to do that on Saturday.

The Badgers running back duo of Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi put up an unbelievably poor performance.

Allen, the Badger’s RB1, put up a stat line of eight carries for two yards. That’s right, two yards, an average of 0.3 yards per attempt. The 18-year-old back was unable to break through the formidable Illini defensive line.

Mellusi was the leading rusher in this game, but his stat line was nothing to rave about. With seven rushing attempts, the Clemson transfer gained only 16 yards on the ground. The Badgers running backs simply had no answers, but it wasn’t entirely on them.

The Illinois defensive line completely outplayed Wisconsin’s offensive front. The offensive line allowed six sacks in this matchup and struggled to give the running backs a hole to run through.

The Illini defense deserves a lot of credit in this one, and the Badgers offense needs a long look in the mirror after a disastrous performance.

Defense

To be fair to the defense, they were put in difficult situations due to the shortcomings of the Badger’s offense. However, the defense could not get out of their own way either.

The secondary was the most concerning group in this one. The Fighting Illini quarterback, Tommy DeVito, threw for 167 yards on 18 completions. While the secondary didn’t allow a touchdown through the air, they made several mistakes that allowed Illinois to keep their foot on the gas. Cornerback Jay Shaw was flagged twice for pass interference, including on fourth down at the one-yard line. That penalty allowed the Illini to score on the very next play. While the call was questionable, it was enough for the official to call it and give Illinois seven points shortly after.

One other group that raised some concern was the Badger’s pass rush. Wisconsin failed to get any pressure on the quarterback, an ongoing theme for the defense. While Keeanu Benton had a great game, he was really the only Badger creating any sort of panic in the backfield. UW will need to find some answers on the defensive front and start to get in the backfield once again.

Wisconsin has matchups against some strong offenses coming up. If the defense can’t get out of their own way, it will be a long season for Jim Leonhard and company.

Paul Chryst

Chryst looked completely disinterested on Saturday. It seemed that every time the camera panned to Chryst, he had his arms crossed or on his hips with a blank expression.

The game plan was one of the most questionable of the year. By that, I mean there was hardly any game plan to be found. It was hard to imagine the Badgers coach stooping any lower after the Washington State and Ohio State losses, but it seems that the Badgers have hit a new low.

Wisconsin played boring and disinterested football. The Badgers were dominated in the time of possession, in the trenches, and on the ground. There were virtually no positives to take away from the matchup, and that starts with the coaching.

As I said earlier, Wisconsin is backsliding. Chryst needs to figure it out now, or UW will need to do some soul searching and really think about the direction of this football program.

Injury luck

While this is completely out of Wisconsin’s control, the injuries were the cherry on top of the disastrous game.

The Badgers, already stretched thin at tight end with the injury to Clay Cundiff, couldn’t afford to lose another tight end. Disaster struck when Hayden Rucci suffered an injury in the second quarter. Now without their top two tight ends, the Badgers will be shorthanded moving forward.

The injuries didn’t stop there, as Guerendo and Keontez Lewis also suffered injuries. Both players seemed to be in a lot of pain when they suffered their injuries, but no updates have been made available yet.

The Badgers now face a challenge with injuries to three offensive weapons. One thing to keep an eye on going forward is how the Badgers will adapt to these injuries.

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MADISON, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 02: Wisconsin defensive coach Jim Leonhard looks on in the fourth quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Camp Randall Stadium on October 02, 2021 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Badgers: Studs and Duds vs. No. 3 Ohio State

Wisconsin Badgers: Studs and Duds vs. No. 3 Ohio State

The Wisconsin Badgers (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten) were defeated by the Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) in Saturday night’s Big Ten opener.

The Badgers were utterly outclassed in all three phases, suffering a 52-21 loss.

There were very few positives to take away from this matchup, but let’s look at the studs and duds from UW’s week four loss.


Stud(s)

Braelon Allen

Sep 3, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) celebrates after rushing for a touchdown during the second quarter against the Illinois State Redbirds at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

One of the only bright spots on Saturday night was Braelon Allen. The sophomore back posted a stat line of 23 carries for 165 yards and a touchdown. Additionally, Allen notched 3 receptions for 6 yards and even completed a 10 yard pass to Jack Eschenbach. 

The Badgers RB1 did it all in Columbus, but it was not enough to take home a victory or even keep it close. 

While there were few positives to take away, Allen was a glimmer of hope for the Badgers. The 18-year-old continues to show signs of improvement from game to game. The second-year starter will likely continue to be the focal point of the offense.

Allen was the lone bright spot on Saturday night, so let’s take a look at the duds…


Duds

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 30: Head coach Paul Chryst of the Wisconsin Badgers looks on from the sidelines against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl at Allegiant Stadium on December 30, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Badgers defeated the Sun Devils 20-13. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

Defense

To put it lightly, the defense was dreadful on Saturday night. The Ohio State offense, led by CJ Stroud, got everything they wanted. Wisconsin’s defense crumbled right away, allowing 210 yards of offense and a 21-0 deficit in the first quarter. 

There were few adjustments made, and Ohio State just kept pouring it on. By the time halftime rolled around, the Badgers had allowed 328 yards of offense and were trailing 31-7. 

Wisconsin had no answers for Stroud and company, allowing 539 total yards of offense with 281 yards coming through the air.

The Badgers were touted for their defense heading into this matchup. However, UW could not put stops together and allowed Stroud to put together one of his best passing performances of the season with 281 yards, 5 touchdowns, and one interception.

Wisconsin has the defensive talent to rebound from this game and have a solid season on that end. However, the defense ended up as a dud this week.

Coaching

There has been plenty of conversation around Paul Chryst’s job security lately. After an embarrassing loss on national TV, those conversations will likely be reignited. 

After the loss to Ohio State, Chryst’s record against top 10 opponents fell to 5-10. While the talent gap between OSU and Wisconsin is vast, the Badgers hardly put up a fight. 

The entire coaching staff did not seem confident whatsoever in this matchup as the Badgers seemingly waved the white flag very early in the game when the Badgers punted on 4th-and-1 in the first quarter, down 21-0.

While the defensive coaching was the poorest of all, the entire coaching staff was to blame in this one. Wisconsin came out flat on both ends and was simply outcoached on Saturday night.

Adjustments will need to made going forward if Wisconsin is looking to contend for the Big Ten West title.

Graham Mertz

Although Mertz has looked like the most complete version of himself this season, Saturday night was a step back for the third-year starter.

Ohio State marched down the field with ease to go up 7-0 on the first possession of the game. Following that, Mertz threw an interception on his first pass attempt of the game. After that back-breaking turnover, the game was all but over.

The redshirt junior posted a stat line of 94 yards, one touchdown, and an interception. Mertz found Skyler bell four times for 55 yards and spread the ball evenly to his other wideouts. However, the passing attack left plenty to be desired.

While it’s possible to chalk his lackluster performance up to a lack of confidence after an interception on his first pass attempt, the Kansas native just couldn’t find a way to bounce back. 

Mertz now falls to 2-7 against ranked opponents as the Badger’s starting quarterback. Luckily for Wisconsin, no currently ranked teams are left on their schedule. 

The Badgers will move on to face the Illinois Fighting Illini next week, looking to right the ship in their second matchup of conference play.


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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 New Mexico State Aggies 66-7 by Offensive Onslaught

An explosive game on offense led by quarterback Graham Mertz and running backs Braelon Allen and Isaac Guerendo gave the Wisconsin Badgers a dominating 66-7 win over the New Mexico State Aggies on Saturday in Madison. The team posted 595 yards of total offense in the game, scoring every quarter.

Mertz Shows Prowess in the Pocket

Graham Mertz only threw 15 passes on Saturday.

That was all he needed to give his team the victory.

Mertz finished the afternoon with 12 completed passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns, only being sacked once. He posted a 273.23 passer rating (approximately 130 in NFL terms) and averaged 20.9 yards per completion. Two of his touchdowns found the hands of redshirt freshman receiver Skyler Bell, including a 49-yard touchdown five minutes into the third quarter. This touchdown is Bell’s first of his collegiate career.

Big Game Braelon

It wasn’t just the passing game that showed up to play Saturday.

Braelon Allen came, too.

Allen broke loose within the first two minutes of the game, taking the ball for a 39-yard touchdown following a great kickoff return by running back Isaac Guerendo. The sophomore from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin finished the game with three touchdowns total to go along with 86 rushing yards. Allen has eight rushing touchdowns through three games this season, nearing his season total from last year (12).

But, it wasn’t just Braelon Allen controlling the ground game on Saturday. He brought his entire running back room with him.

Speaking of Isaac Guerendo, the Badgers’ backup running back posted two rushing touchdowns of his own. He found the end zone late in the third quarter on a three-yard carry, as well as the early fourth quarter with a 30-yard carry. Other backup running back Chez Mellusi took one to the house as well with a two-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter. Junior running back Julius Davis got some action on the field, too, rushing for 45 yards on nine carries, including a 33-yard run.

What’s Next

Following Saturday’s game, the Badgers travel to Columbus, Ohio for their first conference matchup against the Ohio State Buckeyes. The game starts at 6:30 p.m. CST and will air on ABC.


 

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PISCATAWAY, NJ – NOVEMBER 06 : Head coach Paul Chryst of the Wisconsin Badgers talks with quarterback Graham Mertz (5) during a game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at SHI Stadium on November 6, 2021 in Piscataway, New Jersey. Wisconsin defeated Rutgers 52-3. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

No. 19 Wisconsin vs. Washington State: What to watch for

No. 19 Wisconsin vs. Washington State: What to watch for

Madison, Wis. – The No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers will play host to the Washington State Cougars on Saturday, September 10, at Camp Randall Stadium.

Following a convincing 38-0 victory over the Illinois State Redbirds, the Badgers will look to keep the momentum going and remain undefeated in non-conference play.

Here are some items worth watching in week two.


How does Graham Mertz follow up an impressive week 1?

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

Graham Mertz heads into Saturday’s showdown coming off an impressive showing in week one. Against Illinois State, the redshirt junior completed 14-of-16 pass attempts for 219 yards and a touchdown. Mertz showed poise in the pocket and evenly distributed the ball among his teammates.

Heading into Saturday afternoon’s game, Mertz will undoubtedly be a player to watch. After sub-par performances the past two seasons, the Kansas native showed signs of improvement in the first game of the 2022 season.

Now, he’ll need to build on his strong outing and work towards becoming a more consistent QB. Also, look for receivers such as Chimere Dike and Markus Allen to build off their three-catch performances in week one.

It was a small sample size, but the third-year starter appeared to thrive under new Badgers offensive coordinator Bobby Engram’s system.

If you keep an eye on any single player this weekend, Mertz is an excellent place to start.


How does Wisconsin Badgers rushing attack look against a Power 5 school?

Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi looked sharp in week one. Now 18 years of age, Allen looked even more impressive than last season in Madison. The Wisconsin native put together an impressive stat line of 14 carries for 148 yards and two touchdowns. The Badgers’ RB1 didn’t miss a beat in the first game.

Mellusi, who missed the final four games of the 2021 season due to a torn ACL, looked solid in his first game back. The Clemson transfer carried the ball 10 times for 48 yards in the season opener. Despite no longer being the number one option, Mellusi showed plenty of promise and will likely be given a heavy workload this season behind Allen.

Wisconsin is known for breeding star running backs, and with the one-two punch of Allen and Mellusi, the Badgers will have a strong backfield again this season.

For the Badgers to stay perfect through their first two games, they’ll need the running back room to do what they do best in week two.


Will the defense get off to a fast start?

MADISON, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 02: Wisconsin defensive coach Jim Leonhard looks on in the fourth quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Camp Randall Stadium on October 02, 2021 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

Against Illinois State, the Badgers’ defense started a bit sluggish. While John Torchio’s pick-six was the spark that gave UW’s defense a boost of confidence, the slow start was a bit unexpected for one of the nation’s best. Jim Leonhard lost eight defensive starters from the Grit Factory, so Wisconsin is understandably still sorting things out.

The question is, can the defense come out with a sense of urgency in week two?

Players like Nick Herbig and Maema Njongmeta had impressive showings in week one. The linebackers combined for 12 tackles, three TFLs, and two sacks. Expect these players to be key contributors once again as they look to cause mayhem against Washington State.

Another question for the defense is who will step up after an injury to starting safety Hunter Wohler?

The free safety suffered a leg injury against Illinois State and won’t play on Saturday. Kamo’i Latu and Preston Zachman are the most likely candidates to help fill the void, but it’s currently unknown who will start.

Against Illinois State, Zachman registered two tackles and an interception, while Latu recorded one tackle and a pass deflection.

Both players showed promise and will undoubtedly be players to watch on Saturday.


Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Jake Maier on Twitter .@JakeJMaier.

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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 30: Running back Braelon Allen #0 of the Wisconsin Badgers warms up before a game against the Arizona State Sun Devils in the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl at Allegiant Stadium on December 30, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Badgers defeated the Sun Devils 20-13. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

How to watch: No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers vs. Washington State Cougars

How to watch, listen, and stream No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers against the Washington State Cougars

On Saturday afternoon, the No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers will take on the Washington State Cougars at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin.

The Badgers head into the matchup coming off a convincing 38-0 victory over the Illinois State Redbirds. Wisconsin looked polished on both sides of the ball and will look to carry the momentum into their next matchup.

Last week, the Badgers came out on top thanks in large part to standout performances from Braelon Allen and Graham Mertz. Both players looked sharp in their first game of the 2022 season.

Players such as safety John Torchio and outside linebacker Nick Herbig impressed the defensive side. The Badgers are looking to build their way back to a top defense in the nation. With the help of Torchio and Herbig, Wisconsin pitched a shutout.

The Badgers and Cougars each head into Saturday’s matchup with a 1-0 record. Both teams look to remain perfect in non-conference play to begin their 2022 seasons.

Let’s take a look at where you can watch, stream, and listen to Saturday’s showdown in Madison:


Where: Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin

When: Saturday, Sep. 7, 2022, at 2:30 p.m. CST

Where to watch: FOX Sports 1

Where to stream: Fox Sports App or foxsports.com/live

Other streaming options: Badger Notes is joining forces with Playback. This streaming service will allow fans to join in a watch party that would enable them to enjoy games among other fans in a virtual bar-like setting that also includes live message boards.

Join the Badger Notes watch party and stream Wisconsin games for FREE by following this link.

Where to listen: Badger Sports Network on the iHeartRadio app or Sirius Satellite Radio XM 195

Play-by-play: Matt Lepay

Analyst: Mike Lucas


Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Jake Maier on Twitter .@JakeJMaier.

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Sep 3, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) celebrates after rushing for a touchdown during the second quarter against the Illinois State Redbirds at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Braelon Allen Runs All Over Redbirds, Badgers Win 38-0 in Week 1

Saturday’s football game between the No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers and the Illinois State Redbirds was anything but a normal game at Camp Randall Stadium.

Yes, it wasn’t even normal for the team located in Normal.

Sophomore running back Braelon Allen rushed for 148 yards on 14 attempts, including a 96-yard touchdown run, the longest rush by any Badgers’ player in program history. Alongside a pick-six from safety John Torchio and a touchdown pass from quarterback Graham Mertz to Chimire Dike, the Badgers defeated the Redbirds 38-0.

Big Plays Lead the Way

Some may say, “it’s not about how you start; it’s about how you finish.”

On a night when Wisconsin started slow, John Torchio had other plans.

The senior safety started the scoring frenzy with a big play, intercepting Illinois State quarterback Zack Annexstad at the goal line with under two minutes remaining in the first quarter and returning it for a touchdown. This interception is Torchio’s fifth as a Badger, and his first interception returned for a touchdown in his collegiate career. He also had three tackles, one TFL, and a sack.

Torchio, formerly a walk-on, is a true senior this season and is starting on a defense that held the Redbirds scoreless the entire game, allowing the Illinois State offense inside the red zone on only one drive.

Braelon Allen Breaks A Program Record

Oxford Languages defines the word “unstoppable” as “impossible to stop or prevent.”

Another definition of “unstoppable?”

Braelon Allen.

As previously stated, Allen finished the game with 148 rushing yards, averaging 10.6 yards per carry. He also put numbers on the scoreboard with two touchdown runs, one of which happened to be a 96-yard carry, breaking James White’s previous record for the longest rush in program history of 93-yards.

What’s Next?

Following Saturday’s game, the Badgers remain in Madison to host another home game against the Washington State Cougars. The game starts at 2:30 p.m. CST and will air on FOX.


 

Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Sam Strash on Twitter @strash_sam.

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Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen (0) and the rest of the offensive unit listens to quarterback Graham Mertz (5) in the huddle during their game Saturday, November 20, 2021 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin beat Nebraska 35-28. Mjs Uwgrid21 24 Jpg Uwgrid21

Wisconsin Football: 3 Bold predictions for the 2022 season

We are closing in on the Wisconsin football season, so now feels like a good time to make some bold predictions for the Badgers in 2022. 

The long-anticipated return of Wisconsin football is nearly over, Badger fans. All offseason debate, training camp hype, and positional question marks will finally be answered when the UW returns to the field on September 3 against the Illinois State Redbirds at Camp Randall Stadium.

Last season, Wisconsin entered the year ranked No. 12 by the Associated Press but stumbled out of the gate and finished 9-4, failing to win the Big Ten West for the second consecutive season.

With the season kicking off later this week, Badger Notes goes out on a limb and offers three bold predictions for Wisconsin football in 2022.


1. Wisconsin has two 1,000-yard running backs.

The University of Wisconsin, better known as RBU, hasn’t had a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in the same season since Melvin Gordon and James White did it back in 2013.

However, Wisconsin football is in a relatively fortunate position; they essentially have two starting caliber running backs in Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi.

Allen will step into a workhorse role for the Badgers and build on his impressive freshman season. Mellusi, on the other hand, is also one of Wisconsin’s top offensive weapons and will garner his fair share of touches.

It’s been nearly a decade since a pair of Badgers running backs hit the 1,000-yard milestone in the same season; it’s also never happened at Wisconsin during the Paul Chryst era.

The only other UW RB pairing to achieve this feat was James White and John clay, who did it back in 2010. Had Montee Ball accumulated four more rushing yards, they would have had three 1,000-yard rushers that season.

Behind Wisconsin’s dominant run-blocking offensive line, I believe the tandem of Allen and Mellusi will become Wisconsin’s first 1,000-yard rushing duo since 2013.


2. Nick Herbig records more than 12.5 sacks. 

As a sophomore, Nick Herbig led the Big Ten in pash-rush win rate and registered 64 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, nine sacks, four pass deflections, and two forced fumbles, receiving Honorable Mention All-Big Ten honors.

After an offseason of training at the Bro-Barn, the Hawaii native has a chance to produce one of the most dominant seasons by a Wisconsin OLB in school history, cementing his name among the greats that came before him.

Standing at 6-foot-2, 228-pounds, Herbig is going to wreak havoc on the entire Big Ten in 2022; his blend of power and speed as a pass-rushing specialist is why I’m picking him to record more than 12.5 sacks, placing him in the top three single-season sack leaders in program history.


3. Graham Mertz throws 20 touchdown passes. 

If I had made this prediction for Graham Mertz two years ago, it wouldn’t have seemed like a bold prediction whatsoever. In 2022, the third-year starter enters the season with the bar of expectation seemingly on the floor after two below-average seasons as the QB1.

Despite the maddening inconsistencies, I still believe in Mertz’s arm talent and work ethic.

New offensive coordinator Bobby Engram has put in the time with Mertz to get the ball out quicker, mitigate risks, and play efficiently within the framework of the offense. If the coaching sticks, I’m picking the Kansas native to double last season’s passing touchdown total, which was only 10.


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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 30: Running back Braelon Allen #0 of the Wisconsin Badgers warms up before a game against the Arizona State Sun Devils in the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl at Allegiant Stadium on December 30, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Badgers defeated the Sun Devils 20-13. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Badgers RB Braelon Allen Named USA Today Preseason All-American

Wisconsin Football, better known as RBU, has its next generational talent at running back, and he’s receiving some well-deserved national recognition ahead of the 2022 college football season.

Madison, Wis. – Earlier this week, USA Today Sports released their preseason All-America teams ahead of the 2022 college football season. 

Wisconsin Badgers sophomore running back Braelon Allen, who took the Big Ten by storm as a 17-year-old last season, received second-team All-American honors from the publication.

Allen’s preseason recognition comes on the heels of a true freshman season where Allen ran for 1,268 yards and 12 touchdowns on an impressive 6.8 YPC. He later received Freshman All-American and second-team All-Big Ten honors from the media.

The 6-foot-2, 238-pound sledgehammer also became the fourth Wisconsin true freshman running back in program history to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing plateau, joining Ron Dayne, Jonathan Taylor, and James White.


Season Outlook

Despite playing safety and linebacker in high school, Allen started his career as a running back at UW. Once given the opportunity, he proved to be a patient runner behind Wisconsin’s road-grading offensive linemen last season.

Although he was just a freshman, Allen established a reputation as someone that won’t go down without delivering a punishing hit of his own.

Now, entering his second season with the program, the Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin native, is poised to assume the role of UW’s workhorse running back and become the focal point of the Badgers offense.

He’ll pair with senior RB Chez Mellusi, who will help keep his legs fresh, forming a dynamic one, two-punch in the Badgers backfield.

Wisconsin football continues to find superstar tailbacks, and Braelon Allen is just the latest example.

Other Big Ten standouts named to the USA Today Sports preseason All-American team were Jaxon-Smith-Nijigba (Ohio State), Olusegun Oluwatimi (Michigan), Paris Johnson (Ohio State), Riley Moss (Iowa), Adam Korsak (Rutgers), C.J. Stroud (Ohio State), John Michael Schmitz (Minnesota), Peter Skoronski (Northwestern), Jack Campbell (Iowa), and Jake Moody (Michigan).

Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Dillon Graff on Twitter @DillonGraff.

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