Badgers beat Illinois State 38-0 in season opener
MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Badgers have defeated Illinois State in their season opener 38-0.
The Badgers defense had a strong start to this game. Within the first few plays, Badgers safety John Torchio had himself a sack, as did Nick Herbig later in the first quarter.
On top of that, Torchio also picked it off in the endzone for a 100-yard pick six. That 100-yard interception ended up being the longest interception return in Badgers football history. That put the Badgers up 7-0.
As for the offense, it was quiet to start the game. Braelon Allen had just two carries for six yards, while Graham Mertz had just one passing attempt.
However, Allen wasted no time in the second quarter, running for a 96-yard touchdown, putting the Badgers up 14-0. That was the longest touchdown run in program history. The last player to hold that record was James White, who had a 93-yard touchdown run.
The Badgers are under new offensive coordinator/QB coach Bobby Engram, after Joe Rudolph departed for Virginia Tech to be their offensive line coach. Engram was the WR/TE coach for the Baltimore Ravens from 2014-2021.
Arkansas transfer Vito Calvaruso kicked a 28-yard field goal to put the Badgers up 17-0 late in the second quarter.
The Badgers went into halftime with a 17-0 lead over Illinois State. Mertz completed six of his seven passing attempts for 54 yards, while Allen had seven carries for 116 yards and a touchdown.
The Badgers marched down the field to start the third quarter, opening up the playbook a bit more. Braelon Allen ran it in on a fourth and goal to put the Badgers up 24-0 to start the second half.
Wide receiver Chimere Dike had a nice 74-yard reception for a big gain. That was a career long for him and a career long passing completion for Mertz.
Shortly after, Dike had a 16-yard touchdown reception that put the Badgers up 31-0 over the Redbirds.
Illinois State couldn't get it going on offense for much of the game. There were a few big plays the Badgers secondary gave up. But, Wisconsin still capitalized and gave up zero points through all four quarters.
In the fourth quarter, the Badgers started benching their starters with a 31-0 lead over Illinois State. Isaac Guerendo ran it in for a touchdown to put the Badgers up 38-0.
Mertz finished the day going 14/16, 219 yards and a touchdown.
Allen had 14 carries for 148 yards and two touchdowns.
The Badgers' leading receiver for the night was Dike, with three catches for 106 yards and a touchdown.
The Badgers are back home next week against Washington State.