Sep 11, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA;  Wisconsin Badgers defensive end Matt Henningsen (92) sacks Eastern Michigan Eagles quarterback Ben Bryant (8) during the second quarter at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

No. 18 Wisconsin has little trouble with Eastern Michigan

Chez Mellusi had 20 carries for 144 yards and a touchdown, and No. 18 Wisconsin rushed to a 34-7 win over Eastern Michigan on Saturday night in Madison, Wis.

Isaac Guerendo had 92 rushing yards and a touchdown, and Jalen Berger contributed 62 rushing yards and a score for Wisconsin (1-1), which bounced back from a season-opening loss against Penn State. Braelon Allen added his first career touchdown on the ground for the Badgers.

David Carter had a 98-yard interception return for Eastern Michigan (1-1). The Eagles fell short on the road after winning their season opener 35-15 against St. Francis (Pa.).

The Badgers improved to 4-0 all-time against the Eagles. Wisconsin also improved to 34-2 against opponents from the Mid-American Conference.

Wisconsin exploited an advantage on the line of scrimmage and leaned on the running game throughout the night. Mellusi opened the scoring with a 6-yard rush late in the first quarter to cap off a nine-play, 55-yard drive.

Collin Larsh added a 33-yard field goal early in the second quarter to make it 10-0.

Wisconsin increased its lead to 17-0 on a 6-yard touchdown by Berger with 7:02 to go in the second quarter. His score finished off an 11-play, 75-yard drive that chewed 5:17 off the clock.

Guerendo added a highlight play with 4:40 to go before halftime. He found daylight along the right sideline and evaded a pair of would-be tacklers as he raced for an 82-yard touchdown to make it 24-0 heading into the intermission.

Eastern Michigan snapped the shutout with 9:38 left in the fourth quarter. Carter stepped in front of a pass near the goal line and raced untouched down the left sideline for a touchdown.

Wisconsin finished the scoring on a 1-yard rushing touchdown by Allen with 4:16 remaining.

Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz completed 14 of 17 passes for 141 yards before Chase Wolf took over late in the game.

Eastern Michigan quarterback Preston Hutchinson completed 6 of 13 passes for 53 yards and an interception. Fellow quarterback Ben Bryant completed 4 of 7 passes for 23 yards.

–Field Level Media

Sep 4, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA;  Wisconsin Badgers running back Chez Mellusi (6) rushes with the football as Penn State Nittany Lions cornerback Joey Porter Jr. (9) defends during the first quarter at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

After opening loss, No. 18 Wisconsin faces MAC foe Eastern Michigan

After a home loss in its opening game, No. 18 Wisconsin will look for redemption when it welcomes Eastern Michigan into Madison on Saturday.

Wisconsin (0-1, 0-1 Big Ten) is coming off a 16-10 loss against then-No. 19 Penn State last weekend. The game was scoreless at halftime and 7-7 after three quarters, but the Nittany Lions gained the upper hand in the fourth quarter.

Badgers left tackle Tyler Beach said he and his fellow linemen needed to do more to help the team.

“We’re better than that,” Beach said. “The good thing is that we can see where we messed up. And it’s good that this happens now rather than later. Gets us ready for the rest of the season.”

For many years, Wisconsin has prided itself on a run-heavy offense, and this season is no different. Badgers running back Chez Mellusi led the team with 31 carries for 121 yards and a touchdown in the opening game, while Isaac Guerendo contributed 56 yards on 13 carries.

The passing game was a different story, however. Quarterback Graham Mertz completed 22 of 37 passes for 185 yards and two interceptions.

Mertz’s top target was Danny Davis III, who caught eight passes for 99 yards.

Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst stood up for his quarterback heading into this week’s game.

“I’ve liked the way that he’s handled it and approached it from personal interactions with him,” Chryst said. “I think that he’s trying to do the right thing and owning the things where he can be better. I think he’s got good energy and understands his role in this whole big picture.

“I’ve spent time with him. It’s hard for everyone, right? But it’s an opportunity, an opportunity to get better, and I am confident he’ll do that.”

Mertz said the game offered a new opportunity to put last week’s disappointment behind him.

“I’m obviously not proud of how it ended,” Mertz said. “There are definitely a lot of things that fell on my plate that I need to clean up. I will.”

Meanwhile, Eastern Michigan (1-0) is looking to beat a Top 25 team for the first time in school history. The Eagles are coming off a 35-15 win over FCS opponent St. Francis (Pa.) on Friday.

Samson Evans finished with three rushing touchdowns for the Eagles. As a team, Eastern Michigan rushed for 221 yards and five touchdowns.

The successful start came after Eastern Michigan signed coach Chris Creighton to a contract extension through the 2025 season.

Creighton has won each of his past three meetings with Big Ten opponents.

“I can’t compare Wisconsin to playing Rutgers in 2017 or Purdue in 2018 or Illinois in 2019,” all Eastern Michigan wins, Creighton said, according to the Detroit News. “All of the scenarios, situations and programs, all of those things are different. This is the best football team that I’ll ever coach against in my entire life, and certainly in these last eight years at Eastern Michigan, these guys are phenomenal.

“(The Badgers have) been great for over a decade. I thought they outplayed Penn State, didn’t win the game and had some situations that they wished they could have back I’m sure, but when you look at the totality of the game, I thought that they were the better team.”

–Field Level Media