- Paul Chryst’s opening statement:
“Certainly proud of the effort the guys put in all week. And then any time we get to play this game to get a chance to win, it involves a lot of contributions. And we had that. And as a coach, you always appreciate that. And it was certainly a game where there are so many things that we look at that are positive and we can build off of. And then, you know, automatically there are things that you know during the game and I’m sure there will be when we take a look at the film areas where we’ve got to clean up. You know, it’s one of those games.”
What’s great about the game is there is no script. It’s how you react to different situations. And I thought — the one thing that the guys did do was they stayed steady through that and kept playing. And so it was good to start the season, it was good to play and, you know, wanted the guys to enjoy that tonight, the victory, and then come back and continue to get better.”
- Paul Chryst on John Torchio’s interception return for a touchdown:
“Yeah. I think, you know, certainly was a play that I think sparked everyone, especially the way that drive had been going. It’s a credit to certainly Torch who made the play and yet every play is — it takes everyone to make those happen.”
- Graham Mertz on completing passes to seven different receivers:
“Just taking what was there, I think that’s just the biggest thing, you want to spread the ball around, you want to get a lot of guys touches, the cool this is that we have a lot of guys that might not have gotten touches tonight, that are going to and they’re going to contribute, it was definitely good to get some guys going — it feels good to spread it around.”
- Graham Mertz on Markus Allen, who dropped Mertz’s opening pass, but then caught three passes throughout the remainder of the game:
“He came home with me during the offseason, we’ve had a lot of deep talks and the biggest thing with him is that we’ve got that level of trust built up where I can get on him, he can get on me.”
Game Notes were provided by the University of Wisconsin Athletic Department.
- Today’s captains: senior NT Keeanu Benton, junior ILB Nick Herbig, junior QB Graham Mertz
- Today’s attendance: 73,727
- Paul Chryst improved to 66-23 (.742) in his 8th season as Wisconsin’s head coach, passing Phil King and moving into sole possession of third place on UW’s all-time wins list:
WINS AS WISCONSIN COACH, ALL-TIME
Coach (Years) Wins
1. Barry Alvarez (1990-2005)* 119
2. Bret Bielema (2006-12) 68
3. Paul Chryst (2015-present) 66
4. Phil King (1896-1902, ’05) 65
5. Milt Bruhn (1956-66) 52
* Also served as coach in 2 bowl games (2012, 2014)
Under Chryst, Wisconsin is:
23-4 (.852) in non-conference games
20-4 (.833) in the month of September
37-8 (.822) at Camp Randall Stadium
- The Badgers scored their ninth shutout of the Chryst era (2015-present), and their first since blanking Illinois 24-0 on Oct. 9, 2021. The shutout marked the 15th time in 62 games under defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard that UW did not allow an offensive touchdown.
- Wisconsin held Illinois State to 57 rushing yards, the third consecutive game in which the Badgers have held their opponent to fewer than 100 yards on the ground, dating to last season.
- UW has held opponents under 100 rushing yards in 10 of its last 14 contests, dating to last year’s season opener.
- Wisconsin totaled 221 rushing yards and 219 passing yards — its first game with 200 yards both rushing and passing since the Badgers threw for 229 yards and rushed for 268 in their win over Northwestern on Nov. 13, 2021.
- UW went 4-for-4 in the red zone, punching in 3 touchdowns and converting a Vito Calvaruso field goal. The Badgers held Illinois State to an 0-for-2 mark in the red zone.
- The Badgers won their 8th straight home night game and improved to 20-5 all-time in night games at Camp Randall Stadium.
- Wisconsin has now won 20 of its last 23 season openers and 26 of its last 27 home openers.
- Senior S John Torchio set a Wisconsin record for longest interception return with a 100-yard return for a touchdown in the first quarter. That bettered the previous mark of 99 yards set by Joe Ferguson against Utah State on Sept. 1, 2017
- Sophomore RB Braelon Allen scored on a 96-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, the longest run in Badger history. That broke the record of 93 yards set by James White against Indiana on Nov. 16, 2013.
- It was Allen’s third career run of at least 70 yards. He also had a 70-yard run at Purdue and a 71-yard run against Nebraska last season. Allen finished the game with 14 carries for 148 yards and 2 touchdowns. He went over the 100-yard mark for the ninth time in his career (all in his last 10 games).
- Junior RB Isaac Guerendo scored the second rushing touchdown of his career on a 1-yard run in the second quarter.
- Junior quarterback Graham Mertz completed 14 of 16 passes (to 7 different receivers) for 219 yards— the seventh 200-yard game of his career. That included a career-long 74-yard pass to junior WR Chimere Dike in the third quarter.
- Mertz improved to 14-7 as UW’s starting QB
- Mertz’s pass efficiency rating of 223.1 marked the third-best of his career, trailing his marks of 273.0 vs. Illinois on Oct. 23, 2020, and 244.1 at Rutgers on Nov. 6, 2021.
- Mertz completed 13 passes in a row at one point, the seventh longest single-game completion streak in school history. Mertz shares the Badgers’ record for consecutive completions (17 vs. Illinois, Oct. 23, 2020) with Tanner McEvoy (17 vs. Western Illinois, Sept. 6, 2014).
- Dike caught 3 passes for a career-high 106 yards— his first 100-yard outing — and his 3rd career TD.
- Redshirt freshman WR Markus Allen recorded a career-high 3 catches for a personal-best 34 yards. He came into the game with 3 career catches for 65 yards.
- Junior ILB Maema Njongmeta recorded a career-high 8 tackles in his first career start. He entered tonight’s game with 4 career tackles in 7 games as a Badger.
- Junior OLB Nick Herbig finished with 2.0 sacks among 4 total tackles, the fourth game of his career with 2.0-plus sacks.
- Sophomore S Preston Zachman recorded the first interception of his career, picking off Illinois State QB Zack Annexstad in the fourth quarter.
- Junior K Vito Calvaruso booted a 28-yard field goal in the second quarter, his first made field goal as a collegian. He did not attempt a FG in his two seasons at Arkansas.
- Redshirt freshman WR Skyler Bell, junior TE Clay Cundiff, redshirt freshman CB Ricardo Hallman, junior DE Rodas Johnson, redshirt freshman RT Riley Mahlman, junior ILB Maema Njongmeta, senior CB Jay Shaw, sophomore ILB Jordan Turner and sophomore FS Hunter Wohler all started their first games as Badgers.