LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 30: Quarterback Graham Mertz #5 of the Wisconsin Badgers looks on during a time out 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)

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini: What to watch for

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini: What to watch for

The Wisconsin Badgers (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten) will head back to Madison to take on the Illinois Fighting Illini (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten) on Saturday.

The Badgers head into the matchup coming off of an embarrassing loss in Columbus to the Ohio State Buckeyes, where they lost 52-21. Conversely, the Fighting Illini are coming off a 31-0 victory against the Chattanooga Mocs. Both teams are looking to notch their first win in conference play on Saturday.

Here are some items to watch for in Saturday’s contest:

How will Graham Mertz respond following a poor performance in week four?

Last weekend, the Badgers fell to Ohio State in a blowout. Wisconsin looked out of sorts in all three phases and was outclassed by the Buckeye’s talented team and coaching staff. Heading into Saturday, an essential item to watch will be how Graham Mertz responds.

The Badgers quarterback struggled in week four’s matchup after throwing an interception on his first pass attempt of the game. It seemed like the third-year starter lost his confidence after that interception, and things quickly went off the rails for Wisconsin.

Despite the poor stat line, Mertz spread the ball well to his receivers, which he has excelled at all season long. All in all, Mertz put together a stat line of 94 yards, one touchdown, and an interception, a stat line that seemed out of the ordinary after the impressive year he has had.

Mertz has looked like the best version of himself this season, putting together a stat line of 791 yards and seven touchdowns through the air. If the third-year starter is looking to return to his previous level of play, he will need to spread the ball to multiple receivers again and do so with confidence.

The Kansas native will be a key player to watch in this weekend’s showdown as he looks to regain his confidence and continue to play at the level he was before the loss.

Will Jim Leonhard and the Badgers’ defense bounce back?

In week four, the Badger’s defense was flat-out embarrassed by Ohio State’s explosive offense. It seemed that CJ Stroud and company got everything they wanted, and there was no stopping the passing attack.

Against the Buckeyes, the secondary was torn apart. Stroud posted a remarkable stat line of 281 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception. Heading into the matchup against Illinois, the secondary will be one of the key groups to watch.

The Fighting Illini are averaging 245 passing yards per game this season. Tommy DeVito has excelled through the air this year, putting up a total of 954 passing yards. While DeVito is not on the same level as Stroud, the Syracuse transfer has shown plenty of promise as the Fighting Illini’s QB1. The Badgers’ secondary will need to bounce back this week, and with Alexander Smith once again listed as out with injury, that may be tougher than anticipated.

Another group on defense to keep an eye on is the Badgers’ pass rush. While players such as Keeanu Benton and Nick Herbig have put up solid performances on the edge, the production has been less than expected. The Badgers will need to get into the backfield early and often to force DeVito to make mistakes.

Wisconsin’s defense is a very talented group, and how they respond after a poor performance will be a key item to watch this weekend.

Who will step up in the receiving game with Clay Cundiff out?

Wisconsin suffered a massive blow in week four when Clay Cundiff sustained an injury. The junior tight end suffered a significant leg injury, and there has been no update on his status yet.

Cundiff set career highs in week two against Washington State and showed promise in his pass-catching abilities. With Cundiff now out with injury, who will step up?

It’s no secret that Mertz incorporates his tight ends often in his passing game. He did it with Jake Ferguson, and it was the same story once Cundiff took over.

The Badgers have plenty of talent at the tight end position with Hayden Rucci and Jake Eschenbach. However, at this time, it’s unclear who will get the start against Illinois.

Rucci has appeared in two games for the Badgers this season. The redshirt junior has a stat line of four receptions for 47 yards this season.

Eschenbach, a redshirt senior, has also appeared in two games this season. The 6-foot-6 tight end has hauled in two catches for 33 yards this season.

Although both players have seen limited reps this season, one must step up and give their quarterback a great option in the receiving game. Whoever steps in to replace Cundiff will have big shoes to fill, and they will be a key player to watch in this weekend’s game.

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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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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 Badgers vs. New Mexico State: What to watch for

Wisconsin Badgers vs. New Mexico State: What to watch for

Madison, Wis. – The Wisconsin Badgers (1-1) will host the New Mexico State Aggies (0-3) on Saturday, September 13, at Camp Randall Stadium.

Following a brutal 17-14 loss against the Washington State Cougars, the Badgers will look to right the ship in their final non-conference matchup.

Here are some items worth watching for in week three:


How will the Badger’s offense respond following a disappointing loss?

In Wisconsin’s week one matchup against Illinois State, the Badgers put together a complete performance on the ground and through the air.

In week two, it was not the same story.

While the offensive stats favored Wisconsin, costly mistakes allowed the Cougars to secure a 17-14 win. The Badgers committed three turnovers last week, with two fumbles and one interception.

The game plan had a few bumps in the road, considering Washington State had answers for the UW’s running back duo of Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi. Furthermore, the wide receiver group struggled after Chimere Dike, and Markus Allen dropped passes.

One group that struggled the most was the offensive line. Left guard Tyler Beach and right tackle Logan Brown notched a top 5 offensive PFF grade, but all and all, the line was disappointing.

Although quarterback Graham Mertz made impressive throws when given time in the pocket, he did not have adequate time on all his dropbacks.

Heading into Saturday’s matchup, the Badgers must come out of the gates firing on all cylinders. The offense will need a big game from their running back tandem, who struggled against Washington State’s sound run defense. Conversely, the WR room must get involved against New Mexico State and limit mistakes when given the opportunity.

After a tough outing last week, how the Badger’s offense responds will be an interesting storyline to watch in week 3.


Will Clay Cundiff become the focal point of Wisconsin’s passing attack?

Although Clay Cundiff coughed up an untimely fumble in the fourth quarter against Washington State, the redshirt junior tight end looked like one of the best receiving options on the Wisconsin offense.

In week two, the Kansas native hauled in four catches for 59 yards and two touchdowns.

Despite the back-breaking turnover, Cundiff received a vote of confidence from his quarterback after a strong performance in week two.

Mertz has favored the tight ends in the passing game in his two years as a starter, and Cundiff looks like a reliable option for the third-year starter.

The 6-foot-3, 236-pound tight end has caught six passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns through two games.

Cundiff has the tools to be a formidable tight end and will be a player to watch as he builds off a strong outing in week two.

If you keep an eye on any one player this week, Clay Cundiff is an excellent place to start.


Will the special teams unit fix the mistakes?

Although there were plenty of concerns coming out of week two, the special teams unit was arguably the biggest.

The special teams unit proved costly in the matchup against Washington State as kicker Vito Calvaruso missed two field goal attempts. The Arkansas transfer is now 1-for-4 on field goal attempts in two games this year.

However, Calvaruso was not the only concern on special teams. At the beginning of the third quarter, Washington State had a significant kickoff return that later set up a field goal to close the gap on Wisconsin’s lead and ultimately allowed the Cougars to notch a three-point victory.

Not only that, but the return game has been a big concern for Wisconsin. In two games, punt returner Dean Engram has posted only two yards in his return opportunities. The Badgers are losing out on field position due to the poor return game, which is becoming costly to the Badger’s success in the third phase.

For Wisconsin to get things back on track and notch a victory in week three, limiting mistakes on special teams will be one of the most critical factors.

Although the offense will need to make strides in week three, the special teams unit may be one of the most important groups to watch.


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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


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Sep 21, 2019; Madison, WI, USA; A Wisconsin Badgers helmet sits on the sidelines during the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Badgers PFF grades: Top 5 offensive/defensive players in week 1 vs. Illinois State

The No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers (1-0) kicked off its season opener at Camp Randall on Saturday night with a 38-0 smackdown of the visiting Illinois State Redbirds.

Behind a balanced and efficient offensive performance, the Badgers totaled 440 yards in Bobby Engram’s first game as offensive coordinator.

Even on a night where Jim Leonhard’s defense came out flat, they managed to pitch a shutout against the Redbirds.

It was a night that saw multiple school records broken. First, senior safety John Torchio scored the first touchdown of the season on a 100-yard pick-six late in the first quarter.

Then, Braelon Allen showed why he’s one of the best running backs in the country, ripping off a 96-yard touchdown run, the longest in school history.

Overall, it was a highly encouraging performance from both sides of the ball, giving Wisconsin momentum to build on heading into week two against the Washington State Cougars.

Here’s a look at the top five highest-graded offensive/defensive players from Wisconsin’s 38-0 victory over Illinois State, according to Pro Football Focus.


Top 5 offense

  • OT Nolan Rucci: 91.1 – Elite 

  • TE Hayden Rucci: 88.4 – Elite 

  • WR Chimere Dike: 82.6 – High Quality 

  • OT Jack Nelson: 81.6 – High Quality 

  • QB Graham Mertz: 81.4 – High Quality 


Top 5 defense

  • S Preston Zachman: 91.0 – Elite

  • NT Keeanu Benton: 86.8 – Elite

  • S Kamo’i Latu: 83.2 – High Quality

  • ILB Maema Njongmeta: 82.5 – High Quality

  • OLB Nick Herbig: 78.2 – High Quality


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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.


 

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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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