Wisconsin football opens season with shutout win over Illinois State

Braelon Allen scored two touchdowns in the 38-0 victory.
Wisconsin's Graham Mertz (5) throws a pass during the second half of an NCAA college football...
Wisconsin's Graham Mertz (5) throws a pass during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Illinois State Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)(Morry Gash | AP)
Published: Sep. 3, 2022 at 10:55 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WSAW) - The Wisconsin Badgers returned to the football field in style Saturday night as they bested Illinois State 38-0 to begin their new season.

Wisconsin entered the game ranked 18th, facing an FCS opponent for the first time since 2014. The Badgers won that matchup 37-3 over Western Illinois.

The two literal biggest plays came in the first half. In the first quarter, with Illinois State driving in Badgers’ territory, John Torchio intercepted a pass and proceeded to return it 100 yards for a touchdown. It’s the longest pick-six in Wisconsin history as Wisconsin took the lead 7-0.

In the second quarter, it was Braelon Allen’s turn in history. The sophomore uncorked a 96-yard touchdown run, the longest in Wisconsin history. Two explosive plays led to a 17-0 halftime lead for the Badgers.

In the second half, it was fewer fireworks and more traditional offense for the Badgers. A long, sustained drive in the third ended on a fourth-down touchdown run by Allen. Later in the quarter, quarterback Graham Mertz connected with Chimere Dike on a 16-yard touchdown, giving Wisconsin a 31-0 heading to the fourth.

In the final frame, Issac Gurrendo got his crack at the end zone as he punched one in from one yard. As the clock hit zeros, the Badgers held onto their shutout, winning 38-0.

Mertz finished 14-16 for 219 yards and a touchdown. Allen’s big run helped bolster his yardage total to 148 yards on 14 carries and two scores. Most importantly, the Badgers committed zero turnovers in the win.

Wisconsin returns to Camp Randall next Saturday for a date with Washington State. Kick-off for that contest is set for 2:30 p.m.