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Full game recap: Wisconsin rolls past Central Michigan behind their passing offense

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Jack Coan, who made his first career start at Camp Randall recorded the fifth-best passing performance in school history

NCAA Football: Central Michigan at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

MADISON - The No. 17 Wisconsin Badgers (2-0) rolled to a 61-0 victory over Central Michigan (1-1), behind an unfamiliar phase of their offense - the passing game.

Quarterback Jack Coan, who was making his first career start at Camp Randall, messed around and posted the fifth-best passing game in school history.

Coan finished the game 26-of-33 for 336 yards and three scores.

Two of those scores went to wideout Quintez Cephus, who found the end zone for the first time since 2017.

Coan connected with Cephus on a 36-yard touchdown and then a 46-yard touchdown on the following drive. Cephus recorded his second career game of 100+ receiving yards and his second career game with two or more touchdowns. Cephus finished with six receptions for 130 yards and two scores.

@B5Qphotos, Matt Fleming

AJ Taylor, who led the team in receptions, finished with seven on the day, for 78 yards.

All in all, the Badgers as a team passed for 400 yards. Wisconsin also picked up 22 of its 37 first downs through the air.

Four-star recruit Graham Mertz saw his first game action as well in the third quarter, completing 4-of-5 passes for 35 yards. Mertz led Wisconsin on an eight play, 76 yard scoring drive, covering 8:10 of game clock in his only drive. The drive was capped off by a Garrett Groshek 2-yard rushing touchdown.

Running back Jonathan Taylor, predictably, also had himself a day for the Badgers.

Taylor opened the scoring on the day, with a four yard rush, his third rushing touchdown on the season.

Taylor later added two more scores in the first half, scoring from two yards out on the ground and then again from 17 yards out, for his third receiving touchdown of the season.

Taylor’s final score of the game, a two-yard run in the third quarter, was his third rushing touchdown on the day and fourth score overall, giving him eight total touchdowns on the season.

Taylor rushed 19 times for 102 yards and scored three times on the ground. This was Taylor’s 24th career 100-yard game in just his 29th career outing.

Taylor also added three receptions for 17 yards.

Backup tailback Nakia Watson also found the end zone for the second week in a row. Watson’s touchdown was originally called as him being down on the 1-yard-line, however, after a quick review, the officials determined that Watson stretched out and broke the goal line.

Watson finished the game with eight rushes for 32 yards.

Defensively, Wisconsin recorded its second shut out in as many games on the season and pushed their shut out streak to 11 quarters, dating back to last season’s New Era Pinstripe Bowl blowout of Miami (Fla.).

Wisconsin held the Chippewas to 56 total yards and forced the Chips to punt nine times and were even able to put points on the board with CMU in punting formation.

With Chippewa punter Brady Buell standing just in front of the goal line, John Chenal forced his way to Buell, causing the punter to lose the football in the end zone. Wisconsin attempted to fall on the ball, but ultimately was unable to as the ball went out of the end zone, leading to a safety.

Or was it a touchdown?????
@B5Qphots, Matt Fleming

Wisconsin also forced one turnover in the game, with linebacker Jack Sanborn intercepting a pass in the second quarter, returning it 39 yards into Chippewas territory. This interception led to Taylor’s third score of the game.

Wisconsin added one sack as well, which was recorded by Zack Baun. This was Baun’s second sack of the season. Baun also recorded three tackles and two for a loss.

Wisconsin was paced on defense by Leo Chenal and Mike Maskalunas, who each recorded four tackles.

Collin Larsh who missed his only attempt in Wisconsin’s opener, closed out the first half, missing left on a 51-yard attempt. Larsh later connected on his first career field goal, from 28 yards out in the third quarter.

Through two games this season, Wisconsin has outscored its opposition 110-0.

@B5Qphotos, Matt Fleming

Wisconsin will have to wait two weeks to see its next action, as Wisconsin has an early bye week, prior to opening Big Ten play in only their third game of the season.

Wisconsin’s next opponent, Michigan (2-0) defeated Army 34-31 in overtime in Week 2. The Badgers and Wolverines will face off at Camp Randall Stadium on Sept. 21. at 11 a.m. CT.