The No. 21 Wisconsin Badgers (6-3 overall, 4-2 Big Ten) continued to roll, as they scored 45 unanswered points in a dominating performance over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-5 overall, 1-5 Big Ten) on Saturday afternoon in New Jersey, winning 52-3. This was the first-time during head coach Paul Chryst’s tenure that the Badgers have scored 50 or more points against a Big Ten opponent.
The top-ranked Badger defense continued to show why it is the best in the nation, holding Rutgers to 207 total yards, while forcing four turnovers — one of which was a 29-yard pick-six by sixth year senior, Caesar Williams, who now has two interceptions on the season.
Rutgers finished the game 1-of-11 on third down and 1-of-4 on fourth down.
The Badger defense recorded two sacks, one by Jack Sanborn who paced the Badgers in tackles with nine (two solo) and the other by Nick Herbig, who now has a team-high seven on the season. Herbig also recorded two of Wisconsin’s five tackles for loss on the afternoon.
Leo Chenal, who has been on quite the roll since making his season debut, recorded seven tackles (one solo) in the game.
Wisconsin also held Rutgers under 100 yards rushing, as they gained 95 yards on the ground. This is the seventh time in nine games this season, that the Badgers have held an opponent under 100 yards rushing. Wisconsin is now allowing a paltry 54.7 rushing yards per game, which is tops in the nation, with Georgia coming in second at 79.8 yards per game.
Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz, who threw his eighth interception of the season on the opening drive of the game when Jake Ferguson stumbled while running a route, recovered well following the turnover. Mertz finished the game 11-16 for 240 yards, with three touchdown passes and one interception. Mertz played less than three quarters, as Chase Wolf took over prior to the end of the third quarter.
Wolf completed 2-of-3 passes for 34 yards.
Entering the game, Mertz had thrown just three touchdown passes in the first eight games of the season. Mertz threw touchdown passes to three different players — John Chenal (one-yard), Kendric Pryor (25 yards) and Danny Davis (72 yards).
It was John Chenal’s second touchdown of the season, but his first receiving touchdown. For Pryor, it was his second score of the season and Davis’s 72-yard touchdown was the longest of his career and his first since the 2020 season opener. Pryor (four receptions) and Davis (one reception) each recorded a game-high 72 receiving yards, which was a new career-high for Pryor.
Even with Mertz having the game that he did, there was still plenty more to go around, as Wisconsin was still able to have quite a bit of success on the ground in the game, rushing for 305 yards, while passing for 274.
Freshman Braelon Allen led the way, rushing for 129 yards on 15 carries and one touchdown. This was his fifth consecutive 100-yard rushing performance.
Allen’s five game streak is the second-best in Wisconsin history for a first year player, as only Anthony Davis has rushed for more consecutive 100-yard games as a freshman, having tallied 100+ yards in six-straight games during the 2001 season.
Davis had a separate four-game streak in 2001 too, with P.J. Hill (2006) and Jonathan Taylor (2017) also having recorded four-straight 100-yard performances during their freshman campaigns.
Chez Mellusi, who rushed 15 times for 75 yards and tallied one touchdown, left the game in the third quarter with a leg injury. Mellusi spent quite a bit of time in the medical tent on the sideline before slowly walking to the locker room. He appeared to have caught his toe on the turf on an 11-yard carry, which proved to be his last of the game.
With Mellusi out and Allen’s day ending shortly after he reached the 100-yard mark, Wisconsin had to look to a couple of young backs who hadn’t seen much, or any time in cardinal and white.
Julius Davis, who had one career carry during the 2020 season rushed seven times for 32 yards and Grover Bortolotti, a walk-on with no career carries rushed five times for 48 yards, including a 22-yard rush.
Wisconsin also added a touchdown from back up fullback Jackson Acker, who scored on his first collegiate touch, an 18-yard rush. Acker finished the game was three carries for 34 yards. He was the seventh player of the game to score, as a different player scored all of his Wisconsin’s seven touchdowns.
Wisconsin now shares the lead in the Big Ten West with Minnesota (6-3 overall, 4-2 Big Ten), who lost to Illinois on Saturday, following their win over the Scarlet Knights.