Wisconsin jumps on Rutgers early in a 52-3 route

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Wisconsin’s 52-3 win over Rutgers began with a drive that would prove to be the opposite of things to come. Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz tried to force a third-down throw and the Scarlet Knights came away with a game-opening interception.

The next eight Badger drives? Every single one ended in a score. Wisconsin opened their win with more points off turnovers. Noah Burks picked off the first Noah Vedral pass attempt of the afternoon to set up the Badgers at the Rutgers 15-yard line. Two plays later, Chez Mellusi scampered into the end zone on a 14-yard burst to give Wisconsin a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter.

After the two teams traded field goals, former Badger Aron Cruickshank fumbled the opening kickoff return to give Wisconsin the football at the Rutgers 29-yard line. A Mertz to Kendric Pryor connection set up the Badgers in a first-and-goal situation, but it took until fourth-and-goal for Wisconsin to punch it in from the 1-yard line. Mertz found fullback John Chenal for an easy score as Paul Chryst dialed up the perfect call.

The dagger came shortly thereafter, as Caesar Williams intercepted Vedral thanks to pressure from Keeanu Benton. Williams took it 29-yards to the house to give Wisconsin a commanding 24-3 lead late in the second quarter.

The Badgers refused to go into the half quietly. as Chryst opted to stay aggressive late in the second quarter. Mertz delivered a strike to Pryor for a 25-yard score just before the half to put the Badgers up 31-3 at the break.

The second half saw more of the same, even as Wisconsin went to their backups early. Freshman running back Jackson Acker had his first career score on an 18-yard run in the third quarter, and the Badgers rolled to a 49-point win.

Wisconsin picked up their fifth-straight win, and improved to 6-3 on the year and 4-2 in the Big Ten. The Badgers are now tied with Minnesota at the top of the Big Ten West standings.