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How Badgers “inseparable” RB duo Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi co-exist

The Badgers duo had a strong Week 1 outing, paving the way for the offense.

The Wisconsin Badgers cruised to a 38-17 victory against the Buffalo Bulls after a slow start, thanks to running backs Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi, who saw significant volume and made the most of their opportunities to bring their team back.

Allen, seen as a top running back in the nation in 2023, rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries.

Mellusi, on the other hand, saw 13 carries, to which he rushed for 157 yards, a career-high, and two touchdowns, including an 89-yard score, a career-high as well.

With the number of weapons in Wisconsin’s offense, as well as the value of both running backs, how are the Badgers’ duo able to co-exist successfully?

It all starts with their “inseparable” bond, which has become a known reality in the locker room at this point, to the point where transfer quarterback Tanner Mordecai pointed it out in the recovery room earlier this week.

“Tanner made a comment the other day,” Allen said. “He saw us doing our little recovery thing in the treadmill in the pool [and said], ‘You guys are inseparable’. I would say we are. So our relationship goes far beyond on the field.”

But, Allen and Mellusi’s bond isn't something new. In fact, the duo has learned to grow with each other over the past three years, as they both entered the program at the same time, with the former joining in 2021 as a true freshman, while the latter transferred from Clemson.

“This definitely isn’t our first rodeo together going into year three. Kind of being somewhat of a duo and off the field, I would probably say we consider each other best friends. Everything that we do off the field is pretty much done together,” Allen said.

Back then, however, the tables were turned, as Mellusi was the lead back, while Allen was paving his way into the collegiate ranks as a 17-year-old back.

At this point, nothing seems forced, but rather, the duo’s nonchalant behavior has made day-to-day life easier.

“Neither of us do too much. So whether we’re at home, we’re on the game together or if we’re trying to grab a bite to eat, it’s always the two of us,” Allen shared.

How do Allen and Mellusi channel their competitive nature on the field, given that the duo are competing for reps in the backfield?

It comes “easy”, according to the former, especially given that the duo shares similar goals.

“I mean, it’s easy [to co-exist] being as close as we are. We both want to see each other succeed. We both have the same goals. So, if one of us is doing well. It just pushes the other to do well, too,” Allen said. “I saw Chez break 89, and in my mind, okay, I got to try to one of them. He wants that for me, too, so I think that’s a big part of our success.”

“It was just kind of obviously very happy for Chez. His longest play in his career, had a great start to the season, but it just makes you want to kind of one up. And I think the next drive I had my first touchdown. Like I said before, we just push each other to be better.”

A big part of that relationship comes with responsibility, however, and Allen understands the importance of holding each other accountable.

“I also think that being close off the field helps you hold each other accountable. When one guy isn’t playing up to the standard, he’s not doing the right things on or off the field, you can kind of get into him a little bit,” Allen said. “We respect that out of each other makes us who we are and puts us to be better every day.”

The Badgers are going to rely on their running game in 2023, despite Phil Longo’s “Air Raid” moniker, and both of their top running backs are on the same page, with their bond stronger than ever heading into what could be both players’ last year in college.