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GAME NOTES: No. 14 Wisconsin 45, Illinois 7

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The Badgers took it to the Illini in the opening game of the Big Ten season.

NCAA Football: Illinois at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Here are some final game notes from Wisconsin’s win over Illinois on Friday night.

  • Redshirt freshman quarterback Graham Mertz tied Tanner McEvoy for the the most consecutive pass completions in a single game, with 17. McEvoy set the record in 2014, against Western Michigan.
  • 17 consecutive completions is also the third-longest streak in a Big Ten conference football game.
  • Mertz finished 20-21, for 248 passing yards and five touchdowns. His 95 percent completion percentage is the best in program history, besting Alex Hornibrook’s previous high of 94.7 percent
  • Mertz’s five touchdown passes tied the highest single-game total in school history, matching Darrell Bevell (Nevada, 1993) and Jim Sorgi (Michigan State, 2003)
  • Tight end Jake Ferguson became the first tight end in program history to score multiple touchdowns in a game since Jacob Pedersen did so in 2011. Ferguson finished the game with three receiving touchdowns.
  • With tonight’s win, Paul Chryst moved into fourth place in school history, with 53 wins, passing Mike Bruhn (1956-66), who had 52 wins.
  • Under Chryst, Wisconsin is 53-16 (.768) overall and 35-10 against Big Ten opponents and 26-5 against the Big Ten West Division.
  • Wisconsin allowed 315 total yards to Illinois in its 24-23 loss in 2019, but only 218 total yards in the 2020 opener.
  • The Badgers held Illinois to just 218 yards (131 rushing, 87 passing) and just 8 first downs. Those numbers are the fewest by a UW Big Ten opponent since Michigan State totaled just 149 and 7 first downs against UW last season.
  • Wisconsin held Illinois to 2-10 on third down and 0-3 on fourth down.
  • DIII transfer, Andy Vujnovich punted four times in his Badgers debut, totalling 184 yards (46.0 average), including a 60-yard punt, which was his first of the night.
  • Wisconsin won its 8th consecutive home game, dating to last season.
  • UW tallied its most points in a Big Ten opener since beating Nebraska 48-17 in 2011.
  • The Badgers held Illinois to just 218 yards and just 8 first downs. Those numbers are the fewest by a UW Big Ten opponent since Michigan State totaled just 149 and 7 first downs against UW last season.
  • Wisconsin dominated the time of possession by a margin of 43:28 to 16:32. That’s UW’s most lopsided total since owning a 44:31 to 15:29 advantage over Minnesota in 2004.
  • The Badgers finished a perfect 6-for-6 in red zone opportunities, scoring five touchdowns and one field goal.
  • Wisconsin won its home opener for the 25th consecutive season, a run that dates back to 1996. Only Florida (31) owns a longer active streak among FBS teams.
  • The Badgers claimed a win in their season-opening contest for the 5th straight year.
  • The win marked Wisconsin’s first season-opening victory over a Big Ten opponent since a 21-14 triumph over No. 1-ranked Michigan on Sept. 12, 1981 (which also was UW’s last opener vs. a conference opponent at Camp Randall).
  • UW claimed its 8th straight victory over Illinois at Camp Randall Stadium, dating to 2004.
  • Overall, Wisconsin has won 10 of its last 11 (and 14 of its last 16) meetings with the Illini

All fun facts courtesy of the UW Athletic Department