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.


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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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