No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers vs. Illinois State game recap: Everything we know

·4 min read

The No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers (1-0) utilized an efficient offensive attack, a bend but-don’t-break defensive effort, and an impressive performance from Doak Walker hopeful Braleon Allen to bury the visiting Illinois State Redbirds (0-1) in the season opener at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday night.

Paul Chryst’s team produced over 440 total yards and scored 38 points while holding the Redbirds to just 243 yards of total offense – kicking the 2022 college football season with a 1-0 start.

Let’s recap Wisconsin’s final score, the key to the game, when the game was over, hand out game balls, and take a look at what’s next.

Final score: Badgers 38, Redbirds 0

Wisconsin’s Graham Mertz (5) thrpws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Illinois State Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Key to the game

Sep 3, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers safety John Torchio (15) returns an interception for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Illinois State Redbirds at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

With all due respect to the Illinois State coaching staff, this game was over as soon as the game began.

Wisconsin got off to an uncharacteristically slow start defensively and was in danger of giving up the game’s first score late in the first quarter.

That is until ‘the jewelry thief,’ John Torchio, read Illinois State quarterback Zack Annexstad like an open book and recorded a 100-yard pick-six to put the Badgers up 7-0. It’s also worth noting that it was the longest pick-six in the modern era for Wisconsin football.

After this game-changing play, Wisconsin never looked back.

It was over when...

 

Sep 3, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) rushes for a touchdown during the second quarter against the Illinois State Redbirds at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Braelon Allen did what Braelen Allen does in the season opener, and the Badgers offense hummed along all evening, methodically wearing down Illinois State’s defense.

Allen carried the ball 14 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns, including one in the first half that went for 96 yards and gave the Badgers a 14-0 advantage after a slow start. The sophomore running back looked patient, strong, and intentional with his runs.

Game balls, players of the game

Sep 3, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) celebrates following a touchdown during the third quarter against the Illinois State Redbirds at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

RB Braelon Allen: Now 18 years of age, Allen looked like a grown man against the Redbirds. Despite carrying the ball just 14 times, the Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin native, ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns. He’s dialed in. 

QB Graham Mertz: After a difficult season as the Badgers QB1, all eyes were on the Kansas native in the season opener. Mertz did exactly what you want to see against an FCS program like Illinois State, completing 14 of 16 passes for 219 yards and one touchdown with no turnovers. I couldn’t ask for much more from the third-year starter. 

OLB Nick Herbig: Wisconsin’s star outside linebacker Nick Herbig did what he does best, wreak havoc. The Badgers’ junior EDGE rusher recorded two sacks in the season opener, setting the tone for what most expect to be a monster season.  

S John Torchio: As I mentioned earlier, Torchio’s pick-six was a game-changing play that flipped the script for the remainder of the game. The Jewelry Thief took one 100 yards to the house – somewhere, Collin Wilder is smiling. 

What's next

Sep 3, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Paul Chryst talks with quarterback Graham Mertz (5) during the third quarter against the Illinois State Redbirds at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Badgers (1-0) will stay home and host the Washington State Cougars (1-0) at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday, September 10.

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Story originally appeared on Badgers Wire