A season opener in Camp Randall Stadium, #18 Wisconsin cruised past Illinois State 38-0. Out-gaining Illinois State 440-243 in total yards, Wisconsin looked fully in control for a team with Big Ten title aspirations.
The fierce Wisconsin run defense picked up where they left off last season. Giving up the fewest rushing yards in the country at 65.4 per game last season, Illinois State was only able to manage 57 rushing yards on 26 attempts. An average of 2.2 yard per attempt. Inside linebacker Maema Njongmeta paced the Badgers on defense, leading with seven tackles. Outside linebacker Nick Herbig led the Badgers with two sacks. John Torchio returned an interception for a touchdown to give Wisconsin a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Quarterback Graham Mertz was steady, going 14/16 for 219 yards and a passing touchdown. Wide receiver Chimere Dike caught 3 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown to lead the Wisconsin receiving core. Running back Braelon Allen was the catalyst for the Badgers offense, rushing 14 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns.
90 of Dikes 106 yards came on one drive in the third quarter, leading to a touchdown and extending the lead 31-0:
Last Wisconsin scoring drive:
-Graham Mertz ➡️ Chimere Dike for 74 yards
-Graham Mertz ➡️ Chimere Dike for the 16 yard TD pic.twitter.com/0HVOr99M6O
— 𝗙𝗢𝗟𝗟𝗢𝗪 @𝗙𝗧𝗕𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗱𝟳 (@FTBeard7) September 4, 2022
Program Breaking Plays:
With everything coming up Madison in this one, the game can be summed up by two program breaking plays:
3rd & 7 on Wisconsins 7-yard line, Illinois State was threatening to score first and break the 0-0 tie. Senior safety John Torchio who tied for the most interceptions on the Badgers last season with three, picked up his first of the new season. This jump started the scoring for the Badgers after a slow start.
Returning it 100 yards and a touchdown, Torchio now holds the record for longest interception return in Badgers history:
John Torchio with a school record 100-yard pick-six.#Badgers pic.twitter.com/ZjIcyaoemq
— Evan Flood (@Evan_Flood) September 3, 2022
Coming off a freshman season that saw him run for 1,268 yards and 12 touchdowns in 12 games, The 18-year-old Allen will be the key for this Wisconsin offense. The elusive sophomore running back showed everyone why his name will deserve to be in the Heisman conversation this season. Rushing 14 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns, Illinois State had no answer for the 6’2 bruiser in the backfield.
Brealon Allens day was highlighted by a program breaking 96-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter to give Wisconsin a 14-0 lead:
Braelon Allen with the longest touchdown run in #Badgers history.
Age: 18 pic.twitter.com/FmspL0QunC
— Evan Flood (@Evan_Flood) September 4, 2022
Allens 96-yard touchdown run is now the longest in Badgers history. It replaces James Whites 93-yard touchdown run he had against Indiana during his senior season in 2013.
White congratulated Allen on twitter after getting his record broken:
Well it was fun while it lasted 🤣🤣🤣🤣@BraelonAllen good stuff lil bro! 💪🏾 https://t.co/eVI5WtGFo1
— James White (@SweetFeet_White) September 4, 2022
Wisconsin worked both sides of the ball to dominate Illinois State in week one. Braelon Allen is a stud and will be the workhorse for the Badgers all season. Graham Mertz looked solid and the signal caller will need to have an improved season for Wisconsin to win the Big Ten. The defense should be one of the top units in the country again.
Wisconsin hosts 1-0 Washington State at Camp Randall Stadium in week 2.
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