That’s what Graham Mertz looked like on Saturday as he went 14/16 for 219 yards with 1 touchdown, and no interceptions. Mertz at one point, had 13 straight completions as he carved up the Illinois State secondary with a quick-hitting, short passing game.
Mertz was able to silence his critics for one game, but the game against Washington State next week could be a trap game for the Badgers’ as Washington State has a new electric QB a transfer from Incarnate Ward by the name of Cameron Ward. If Mertz can play well against the Cougars, his next test will be September 24 against Ohio State at the Horseshoe. This is a massive year for Mertz as he hopes to join the lineage of great Wisconsin quarterbacks.
Braelon Allen with a big game:
Braelon Allen rushed 14 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns; including a 96-yard touchdown run to continue his ascension into being the next great running back at Wisconsin. The scariest part is that Allen is only 18 years old and already looks like a grown man out on the field.
Allen going into last season, was listed as the fourth-string RB but after season-ending injuries to Chez Millusi, and Isaac Guerendo and the dismissal of highly-touted RB Jalen Berger, Allen emerged to first-string where he rushed for 1,268 yards in 12 games. That is utterly ridiculous.
The new-look Wisconsin defense did not miss a beat on Saturday night.
Wisconsin held the Redbirds to 57 yards rushing and 243 yards on total offense. The Redbirds had a chance to score on their second possession of the game, driving down to Wisconsin’s nine-yard line but QB Zach Annexstad got picked off by safety John Torchio who raced 100-yards for a touchdown. (That is now the longest defensive play in program history with the previous mark set by Joe Ferguson who had a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown against Utah State in 2017.)
Linebacker Maema Njongmeta led the Badgers with seven tackles. Njongmeta is a Junior from Buffalo Grove, Ill.
Chimere Dike had a solid game yesterday. Dike had three catches for 106 yards and a touchdown; this including a 74-catch and run to the Illinois State 19 before capping it off with a 16-yard touchdown reception in the later stages of the 3rd quarter.
Kicker Vito Calvaruso drilled his only kicking attempt of the game; a 28-yarder to extend the Wisconsin lead to 17-0 in the 2nd quarter. Calvaruso was the kickoff specialist for Arkansas last year before transferring to Wisconsin.
Braelon Allen’s 96 yard touchdown run is now the longest in program history with the previous mark set by James White who had a 93-yard rushing touchdown against Indiana in 2013.