No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers Open Season With Win Over Illinois State Redbirds

The No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers (1-0) cruise to a 38-0 win over the Illinois State Redbirds (0-1) at Camp Randall Stadium in the season opener for both programs.

UW got off to a little bit of a slow start, but John Torchio returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown to give the Badgers a 7-0 lead.

The next UW possession, Braelon Allen ran for a 96-yard touchdown to put UW ahead 14-0.

The 100-yard interception return and 96-yard rushing touchdowns set a school record for those two categories, respectively.

Graham Mertz looked excellent tonight. I know this was against a lesser opponent, but it was evident that he put in the effort on his off-season work and it showed. Improved his release, stronger throws and he was more confident in his throws. I’m excited to see the progression this season.

Mertz quietly completed 14-of-16 passing attempts for 219 yards and one touchdown. One of the incompletions was a dropped pass.

Braelon Allen ran for 148 yards on 14 carries for two touchdowns. Chez Mellusi got in on the action tonight too when Allen needed a breather. Mellusi had 10 carries for 48 yards. Mellusi did some good things in the run game and ran hard.

By the way, Braelon Allen is only 18 years old.

The backups got some burn in the final eight minutes of the game and I really liked how Julius Davis ran the ball. Davis had 38 rushing yards on six carries and Isaac Guerendo ran for a touchdown.

Myles Burkett got some run in at quarterback, but on his lone pass play he was sacked on a blitz, other than that he did a good job handing the ball off.

A couple takeaways from the offense:

  • Graham Mertz….see above
  • Deep slants are a great add to the playbook
  • Wow! A WR screen!
  • Showed a few new wrinkles, yes more will be added
  • Yes the jet sweep will be implemented….R-E-L-A-X

Safety Hunter Wohler did get hurt tonight with a left leg injury, he was on crutches and it’s just a precaution. Might be out until conference play if it’s a sprain.

There was a lot of love for Preston Zachman after the game. Mertz and Nick Herbig talked about how much he’s been through to get on the field. Really happy for the INT.

With Wohler’s injury, the team will need Zachman and Kamo’i Latu to play even larger roles.

The Badgers defense that had to replace eight starters from a season played a heck of a game. Some excellent plays from John Torchio and Semar Melvin.

Wisconsin dominated an inferior opponent, but still have plenty to improve on before next Saturday.

Up Next:

The No. 18 Badgers will host the Washington State Cougars (1-0) at Camp Randall Stadium next Saturday, September 10th. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. (Central Time) and will be nationally televised on FOX.

Washington State survived a scare from the Idaho Vandals in a 24-17 win in Pullman on Saturday night.

This will be the third ever meeting between the two programs. UW is 2-0 in the series and the last meeting came in 2007 when the Badgers beat the Cougars 42-21 on September 1st, 2007 at Camp Randall Stadium.

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