Nov 27, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Wisconsin Badgers cornerback Alexander Smith (11) breaks up a pass intended for Minnesota Gophers wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell (7) during the second quarter at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota’s defense holds strong to kill No. 14 Wisconsin’s title chances

Tanner Morgan directed a pair of second-half touchdown drives, and Minnesota’s defense held Wisconsin in check for a 23-13 upset on Saturday, denying the visiting Badgers a berth in the Big Ten championship game.

Wisconsin (8-4, 6-3 Big Ten), which had won seven straight games to climb to No. 14 in the College Football Playoff poll, would have won the Big Ten West with a victory. Instead, the Badgers finished in a three-way tie with Minnesota (8-4, 6-3) and Purdue (8-4, 6-3) one game behind No. 16 Iowa (10-2, 7-2), which will face No. 5 Michigan in the conference title game next Saturday.

Morgan capped a 74-yard drive with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Chris Autman-Bell to put the Gophers up 20-13 with 1:56 left in the third quarter. Morgan kept the drive alive with a 27-yard completion to Dylan Wright on third-and-10 to the Badgers 35.

Wisconsin’s Collin Larsh hit the crossbar with a 48-yard field-goal attempt with 11:44 remaining. Matthew Trickett’s 36-yard field goal, his third of the game, put the Gophers in front 23-13 with 6:08 left.

Morgan completed 11 of 16 passes for 199 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Minnesota held the Badgers to 233 yards of total offense, including 62 on the ground. Wisconsin averaged 267.1 rushing per game during its winning streak. Freshman Braelon Allen, who had seven consecutive 100-yard rushing games, was held to 47 yards on 17 carries. Graham Mertz completed 21 of 38 passes for 171 yards and one interception for the Badgers.

The Badgers’ only touchdown came on Scott Nelson’s 25-yard interception return in the second quarter for a 10-3 lead. Wisconsin had won eight consecutive times at Minnesota in the rivalry battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe, last won by the Gophers at home in 2003.

Nelson’s pick six was Wisconsin’s 20th takeaway in eight games. Trickett’s 31-yard field goal cut the lead to 10-6 midway through the second quarter.

Minnesota capitalized on an interception on the opening possession of the second half to go in front 13-10. Justin Walley wrestled the ball away from receiver Kendric Pryor for a first down at the Badgers 28. Morgan hit Brevyn Spann-Ford for 26 yards on the first play and Ky Thomas then skirted right end from 2 yards out.

Wisconsin drove from its own 25 to the Gophers 9 but had to settle for Larsh’s 28-yard field goal to make it 13-13.

The Gophers opened their scoring with a 14-play, 65-yard drive that chewed up 7:31, culminating in Trickett’s 28-yard field goal. Wisconsin safety Collin Wilder was ejected on the first play after being called for targeting.

Wisconsin responded with an 85-yard drive of almost 10 minutes that ended with Larsh’s 25-yard field goal.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA;  Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) throws a pass during the third quarter against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Resurgent No. 14 Wisconsin tries to lock up Big Ten West vs. Minnesota

As unlikely as it seemed one month into the season, Wisconsin can clinch a berth in the Big Ten title game when the Badgers travel to face archrival Minnesota on Saturday in Minneapolis in the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe.

Wisconsin (8-3, 6-2 Big Ten), ranked No. 14 in the College Football Playoff poll, would win the Big Ten West with a victory over the Gophers (7-4, 5-3). The Badgers have won seven straight since opening the season 1-3, including two conference losses, with each defeat to a ranked team.

Wisconsin enters tied with Iowa atop the West, but holds the tiebreaker by virtue of its 27-7 victory over the Hawkeyes. Minnesota could still win the division with a win over Wisconsin, but also would need Nebraska to beat Iowa and Purdue to defeat Indiana.

The bordering state rivals have met 130 times. The Badgers have won the last two meetings, including 20-17 in overtime last season, and 16 of the last 17. The Gophers’ only win in that span was 37-15 at Madison in 2018.

“The game has always meant a lot,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. “I know the times I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of it, and I know every one of our guys, you get a chance to play in this game, it’s the longest rivalry in college football and to be a part of that is special. And certainly, we know it’s against a very good football team.”

Wisconsin is coming off a 35-28 home victory over Nebraska in which the Cornhuskers shredded the nation’s top-ranked defense for 452 total yards, including 351 through the air. Nebraska drove to Wisconsin’s 11-yard line in the final minute before being stopped on fourth down.

Freshman Braelon Allen continues to power the resurgent Wisconsin ground game, especially with the loss of then-leading rusher Chez Mellusi to a season-ending leg injury three weeks ago. After just 12 carries through the first four games, the 238-pound Allen has topped 100 yards seven consecutive games, including a season-high 228 yards with three touchdowns against Nebraska.

Wisconsin leads the nation in rushing defense (64.3 yards per game), is second in total defense (237.7 ypg) and fifth in scoring defense (15.8 ppg). The Badgers have 19 takeaways during their seven-game win streak.

When asked what jumps out at him about the Badgers defense under coordinator Jim Leonhard, Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck said, “Everything. All of it.”

“They are maybe one of the best defenses we played against in our time here of any opponent,” Fleck said.

After consecutive losses to Illinois and Iowa, Minnesota bounced back last week with a 35-14 win at Indiana.

Quarterback Tanner Morgan completed 14 of 20 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns, including 5-for-5 on third down with for four first downs and a touchdown. Morgan has completed 58.8 percent of his passes for 1,736 yards and nine touchdowns, with seven interceptions.

“They’ve got an identity and they’re good at what they do,” Chryst said. “We’ve played against their quarterback a number of times and he’s a really good football player. … They’re physical, they play hard, they’ve got guys than can make plays, skill players that can make plays.”

After injuries to preseason All-American Mohamed Ibrahim in the opener, and then Trey Potts midway into the season, redshirt freshman Ky Thomas has become the top ball carrier with 625 yards, topping 100 yards in four of the last five games. Freshman Mar’Keise Irving has rushed for 531 yards.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA;  Nebraska Cornhuskers tight end Travis Vokolek (83) rushes with the football between Wisconsin Badgers linebackers Noah Burks (41) and Jack Sanborn (57) during the first quarter at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

No. 15 Wisconsin outlasts Nebraska, 35-28

Braelon Allen had 22 carries for 228 yards and three touchdowns to lift No. 15 Wisconsin past visiting Nebraska 35-28 Saturday in Madison, Wis.

Allen eclipsed 100 yards rushing for the seventh straight game.

The Badgers (8-3, 6-2 Big Ten) won their seventh in a row after a 1-3 start.

Defensively, Collin Wilder recorded two interceptions.

Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez threw for one touchdown and rushed for one score. Martinez was 23 of 35 for 351 yards with two interceptions and Austin Allen had seven receptions for 143 yards.

The Cornhuskers (3-8, 1-7) dropped their fifth consecutive game.

Wisconsin went ahead 7-0 when Stephan Bracey returned the opening kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown.

Nebraska came right back on its first possession with a five-play, 74-yard drive capped by Markese Stepp’s 1-yard burst to tie the game at 7.

The Badgers regained the lead 14-7 when Allen scampered 71 yards for a career-long score with 1:59 remaining in the first quarter.

The Cornhuskers’ defense then tightened and the offense responded with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Martinez to Samori Toure to equalize at 14 with 6:35 left in the second.

Wisconsin’s 14 points allowed in the first half was its highest total of the season.

Wilder’s first interception went for 41 yards. The Badgers capitalized with a strong drive which resulted in Graham Mertz’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Kendric Pryor for a 21-14 lead with 11:35 to go in the third.

Nebraska rallied once again and tied the game at 21 when Martinez plunged in from the 1 with 6:24 remaining in the third.

Allen’s second touchdown, from 3 yards out, capped Wisconsin’s ensuing drive for a 28-21 advantage with 1:30 left in the third.

The Cornhuskers tied the game at 28 when Marvin Scott scored from 2 yards out with 6:27 to go.

When Allen broke several tackles and ran 53 yards for his third score with 3:50 remaining, the Badgers regained the lead, 35-28.

Nebraska was denied on fourth-and-20 from the Wisconsin 21 with four seconds left.

–Field Level Media

Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen (0) runs 33 yards for a touchdown during the third quarter of their game Saturday, November 13, 2021 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin beat Northwestern 35-7.

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Struggling Nebraska takes on No. 15 Wisconsin

After a string of close losses and a coaching staff shake-up, Nebraska had a bye week to regroup and prepare for surging Wisconsin on Saturday in Madison.

Wisconsin (7-3, 5-2 Big Ten), ranked No. 15 in the College Football Playoff poll, has won six straight since opening the season 1-3.

Nebraska (3-7, 1-6) has lost four straight by a combined 24 points, including a 26-17 home setback to Ohio State on Nov. 6.

If Wisconsin wins its final two games, the Badgers capture the Big Ten West. Wisconsin is tied atop the division with Iowa, but the Badgers defeated the Hawkeyes 27-7 on Oct. 30. Wisconsin closes the season at Minnesota, one game back in the standings.

Nebraska is guaranteed a fifth straight losing season, four of them under Scott Frost. He is 15-27 overall, 10-23 in the Big Ten, and 0-12 against ranked opponents.

The Cornhuskers have lost seven straight to Wisconsin.

“The way they’re playing grabs your attention,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. “We all know the record, but you watch the film, and it doesn’t matter which game, offensively they’re explosive and they’ve got very good players.”

After the loss to Ohio State, it was announced that the embattled Frost would return next season with a restructured contract, and he fired four of his five offensive assistants.

The Badgers have the nation’s top-ranked defense, while freshman tailback Braelon Allen has emerged to power a rejuvenated ground game, which lost leading rusher Chez Mellusi to a season-ending leg injury two weeks ago.

Wisconsin is first in total defense at 216.3 yards per game and rushing defense (60.6 ypg), and is second in passing defense (155.7 ypg) and scoring defense (14.6 points per game).

The Badgers have recorded 10 interceptions during their six-game winning streak, the most of any Power Five team during that stretch. After forcing four turnovers in their first six games, the Badgers have 16 takeaways over their last four.

The 238-pound Allen ran for a career-high 173 yards and three touchdowns in Wisconsin’s 35-7 victory over Northwestern last Saturday.

Allen, who had just 12 carries in his first two contests, has rushed for more than 100 yards in six consecutive games. Wisconsin has rushed for 1,618 yards, 269.7 per game, with 17 rushing touchdowns during their win streak.

“It certainly helps that he’s got a really good line in front of him and a lot of good players around him, but doing the things he’s doing, it’s hard to do as a 22-year-old, let alone a 17-, 18-year-old,” Frost said. “So, we’ve got our work cut with him.”

Quarterback Graham Mertz completed 18 of 23 passes for 216 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in last week’s win over Northwestern.

Nebraska is ranked 16th nationally in total offense with 459.2 yards per game. Quarterback Adrian Martinez enters the game against Wisconsin needing 273 yards to become Nebraska’s all-time leader in total offense. Martinez has 10,418 yards in his career, trailing only Tommy Armstrong Jr. (10,690).

“He’s a dynamic athlete,” Chryst said. “He can stress you and make plays, and big plays, with his arm and with his legs. I think they do a nice job overall in their scheme in putting him in those positions.”

Martinez has completed 166 of 271 passes with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also has rushed for a team-leading 502 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Rahmir Johnson is the second-leading rusher with 495 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 4.4 yards per carry.

The Cornhuskers defense took a hit when senior outside linebacker JoJo Domann underwent season-ending hand surgery.

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA;  Wisconsin Badgers running back Chez Mellusi (6) leaps over Army Black Knights defensive back Cedrick Cunningham Jr. (22) during the third quarter at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin RB Chez Mellusi (leg) to miss rest of season

Wisconsin starting running back and leading rusher Chez Mellusi will miss the rest of the season with a left leg injury, coach Paul Chryst said Thursday.

The loss is significant for the run-first Badgers, who now are without the top three running backs who opened the season.

Isaac Guerendo suffered a season-ending left leg injury last month, and Jalen Berger was dismissed from the team for unspecified reasons in October.

Mellusi, a transfer from Clemson, sustained the injury in the third quarter last week in the Badgers’ 52-3 win over Rutgers. He carried the ball 15 times for 75 yards and a touchdown before the injury.

While Chryst didn’t detail the injury, he said Mellusi would not be taking park in spring practice.

Mellusi had 815 yards on 173 carries (4.7 yards per carry) and five touchdowns for the season. He also caught seven passes for 66 yards.

“That obviously saddens all of us,” Chryst said. “There’s nothing more important, and why guys do this is to be able to play in these games. … I thought he gave a ton to this team, certainly in production, but a lot of other areas.”

Freshman Braelon Allen is expected to become the No. 1 back.

Allen has 93 rushes for 661 yards (7.1 yards average) with six touchdowns.

No. 18 Wisconsin (6-3, 4-2 Big Ten) will host Northwestern (3-6, 1-5) on Saturday.

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2021; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Wisconsin Badgers linebacker Jordan Turner (54) celebrates his interception with linebacker Nick Herbig (19) and linebacker Maema Njongmeta (55) during the second half against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern, No. 18 Wisconsin embrace defensive mentality

Resurgent Wisconsin has climbed back into the thick of the Big Ten West race, but the host Badgers have learned to never overlook Northwestern.

Wisconsin (6-3, 4-2 Big Ten) has won five straight after a 1-3 start with three losses to ranked teams, including a pair of conference defeats. Northwestern (3-6, 1-5) has lost three straight.

The Badgers climbed to No. 18 in the College Football Playoff poll.

Wisconsin is in the four-team logjam atop the West Division with Minnesota, Iowa and Purdue, each at 4-2. Wisconsin has beaten Iowa and Purdue and closes the regular season at Minnesota.

Northwestern and Wisconsin have split their last 16 meetings, although the Badgers have won six of the last seven at Camp Randall Stadium. The Wildcats are 0-3 on the road this season.

“Always a team that you look forward to playing because you know you’ve got to earn everything that you’re going to get,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. “I think that’s why those games have been what they’ve been And, our guys know that. It’s always a physical game and it’s a team that you’ve got to go out and play and execute against.”

Last season, the 19th-ranked Wildcats posted a 17-7 victory at home over No. 10 Wisconsin, forcing five turnovers, including three interceptions and a lost fumble by Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz.

In 2018, Northwestern upended another ranked Wisconsin team 31-17 at Evanston, Ill. Northwestern’s last win at Madison was 13-7 in 2015. Since Chryst took over at Wisconsin in 2015, the teams have split six games and Northwestern is the only West Division team with more than two wins against the Badgers.

Wisconsin, coming off a 52-3 rout of Rutgers to become bowl eligible for the 20th consecutive season, features the No. 1 defense in the country. The Badgers are first in total defense (213.8 yards per game), rushing defense (54.7 ypg) and yards per rush (1.90), and rank fourth in scoring defense (15.4 points per game).

“This defense is No. 1 in the country for a reason,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “They’re veteran, they’re tough, they’re violent, they’re well-coordinated, they fit things right, they don’t mistakes.”

The Badgers have rediscovered their traditional power running game, but could be without leading rusher Chez Mellusi, who suffered a left knee injury in the win over Rutgers. Bruising 238-pound freshman Braelon Allen has come on to rush for more than 100 yards in five straight games since moving into the rotation.

The running game has taken some pressure off Mertz, who completed 11 of 16 for 240 yards with three touchdowns and one interception against Rutgers. Mertz threw six interceptions in the first three games, but just two since.

Northwestern is coming off a 13-7 loss at home to Iowa. Quarterback Andrew Marty made his second career start and first of the season, completing 25 of 44 passes for 270 yards and the Wildcats lone touchdown.

The Wildcats have been plagued by inconsistent quarterback play. Hunter Johnson opened as the starter, followed by Ryan Hilinski, who was replaced two weeks ago by Marty in a 41-14 loss to Minnesota.

Northwestern is averaging 342.2 yards offense per game, including 151 on the ground. Evan Hull is the leading rusher with 791 yards, averaging 6.2 yards per carry with five touchdowns.

The Wildcats give up 414.2 yards per game, including 224.9 on the ground. Northwestern held Iowa to 176 yards through the air, the fourth straight game and seventh time this season holding an opponent to fewer than 200 yards passing.

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA;  Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) rushes with the football during the third quarter against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Resurgent Wisconsin brings win streak to Rutgers

While the Big Ten’s East Division boasts powerhouses Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan in a fierce battle to play in the conference championship game, the West Division is producing a tight race of its own.

Wisconsin, one of the team’s in the mix in the West, seeks its fifth straight win Saturday afternoon when it heads to Piscataway, N.J., to oppose Rutgers.

Wisconsin (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten) recovered from a 1-3 start during which it lost to Penn State, Notre Dame and Michigan. The Badgers have outscored opponents 101-34 during a winning streak that features conference wins over Illinois, Purdue and Iowa.

The streak has Wisconsin in a three-way tie for second with Purdue and Iowa, all one game behind Minnesota. While the Badgers look to mount another strong defensive showing, they are hoping that Illinois can win at Minnesota, Michigan State can prevail at Purdue and Northwestern can knock off Iowa.

“I like this group,” Badgers coach Paul Chryst said. “I like the makeup of this group. I like who they are as individuals. We have good leadership. We’ve got enough talent. If you play good football, you have a chance.”

The Badgers head to Rutgers after a 27-7 win over Iowa that dropped the Hawkeyes from ninth to 19th in this week’s Top 25 poll. Wisconsin’s defense forced three turnovers and produced six sacks.

The dominant defensive performance was complemented by an effective offense that saw quarterback Graham Mertz scored on a pair of quarterback sneaks and running back Braelon Allen gain 104 yards for his fourth straight 100-yard game.

“A lot of people counted us out,” Mertz said. “Everybody in that locker room, that never even crossed our mind.”

Rutgers (4-4, 1-4) has yet to score more than 20 points in any conference game but is two wins away from being bowl-eligible. The Scarlet Knights halted a four-game losing streak with a 20-14 win at Illinois last week, when their defense allowed just 107 rushing yards after the Fighting Illini piled up 357 in their historic nine-overtime win at Penn State on Oct. 23.

Scarlet Knights quarterback Noah Vedral scored the go-ahead TD against Illinois on a 15-yard run early in the fourth quarter after twice going the medical tent. He completed 10 of 21 passes for 138 yards.

Vedral’s TD was part of a game that saw the Scarlet Knights produce 230 yards on the ground to improve to 29-2 all-time under Schiano when rushing for at least 200 yards.

Pounding out yards against the Badgers could prove tougher.

“Big challenge this week,” Schiano said. “One of the hottest teams in the Big Ten, Wisconsin, coming to town. Best defense in America. Offensively, very big and physical. (Mertz) has a big arm. (Allen) is a bruiser. Well-coached.”

Saturday is the fourth all-time meeting between the teams and the first since Wisconsin totaled 317 rushing yards in a 31-17 home win on Nov. 3, 2018. The Badgers have won all three matchups by a total of 116-27.

–Field Level Media

Purdue cornerback Dedrick Mackey (1) and Purdue safety Cam Allen (10) stop Wisconsin running back Chez Mellusi (6) during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021 at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette.

Cfb Purdue Vs Wisconsin

Wisconsin trounces No. 25 Purdue for third straight win

Chez Mellusi had 149 rushing yards and a touchdown, Braelon Allen added 140 rushing yards and a pair of scores, and Wisconsin raced to a 30-13 win over No. 25 Purdue in Big Ten play on Saturday afternoon in West Lafayette, Ind.

Linebacker Leo Chenal registered 3 1/2 sacks for Wisconsin (4-3, 2-2 Big Ten), which posted its third victory in a row. The Badgers won despite an underwhelming effort from quarterback Graham Mertz, who completed five of eight passes for 52 yards and lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.

Payne Durham had nine catches for 112 yards and a touchdown to lead Purdue (4-3, 2-2). Linebacker George Karlaftis scored a 56-yard touchdown on a fumble recovery, and quarterback Aidan O’Connell completed 24 of 32 passes for 200 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

Wisconsin outgained Purdue 342-206. The Badgers finished with 290 yards on the ground, while Purdue totaled minus-13 rushing yards because of a half-dozen sacks.

The score was tied at halftime, but the Badgers pulled away with a pair of touchdowns in the second half.

Mellusi put Wisconsin on top 20-13 with a 20-yard rushing touchdown with 6:06 to go in the third quarter. That capped an explosive three-play, 94-yard drive that started with a 70-yard run by Allen.

The Badgers made it 27-13 with 10:13 left in the fourth quarter. Allen raced in for a 14-yard score that marked his second touchdown of the game and his fifth of the season.

Collin Larsh added a 43-yard field goal late in the fourth to increase Wisconsin’s lead to 30-13.

Wisconsin opened the scoring late in the first quarter. Allen carried the ball for a 4-yard score.

Purdue pulled even in the first minute of the second quarter. O’Connell found Durham for a 10-yard touchdown.

Wisconsin regained a 10-7 lead on a 37-yard field goal by Larsh with 8:54 remaining in the first half.

Purdue responded with the defensive touchdown to go on top 13-10 with 6:13 left in the half. Jamari Brown forced Mertz to fumble on a cornerback blitz, and Karlaftis was in the right place at the right time for a scoop and score on a 56-yard fumble return.

The Badgers pulled even at 13-13 on a 23-yard field goal by Larsh with 2:06 left before halftime.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA;  Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) is sacked by Michigan Wolverines linebacker David Ojabo (55) during the second quarter at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Ground games will be on display as Wisconsin takes on Army

Army faces a double-edged dilemma when the Black Knights travel to Madison for a Saturday night nonconference game against Wisconsin.

Army, idle last week after taking its first loss, will be facing the nation’s No. 1 rushing defense as well as Wisconsin’s rejuvenated ground game, which piled up 391 yards in a 24-0 victory at Illinois last weekend.

The Black Knights (4-1) rely heavily on their option ground game, averaging 318.2 yards per game, which ranks second in the nation, and their defense is rated third nationally against the run.

Wisconsin (2-3) was ranked 12th in the AP preseason poll but dropped out after losing to ranked teams Penn State, Notre Dame and Michigan.

Army was without injured senior quarterback Chris Anderson in its 28-16 loss to Ball State two weeks ago. Anderson’s status for Wisconsin was uncertain.

“They’ve got a great team. They’ve obviously played some great football teams already this year on their schedule, Top 10 teams and just really an impressive outfit,” Army coach Jeff Monken said. “What they did with Illinois this past weekend, I mean, they just completely dominated the game.”

Wisconsin is allowing just 41.4 yards per game rushing and a paltry 1.7 yards per carry. Illinois managed just 26 yards on 13 carries, with 23 of the yards coming on one run. Army yields 54 yards per game on the ground but has not faced a Big Ten-level attack like Wisconsin’s this season.

Army’s option offense presents challenges for opposing defenses.

“One, you’ve got to recognize it and understand who they are and how they want to play and what they’re doing,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. “They’re efficient, they execute it well. They’re well-coached and players know it, and it’s going to force you to play really good, sound assignment football. That’s the challenge.”

The Badgers ran for just 43 yards on 32 attempts in their 38-17 home loss to Michigan, but they were bolstered against Illinois by the emergence of 238-pound freshman Braelon Allen, who rushed 18 times for 131 yards and a touchdown. Chez Mellusi, held to 13 yards on six carries vs. Michigan, had a season-high 145 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries against the Illini.

Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz completed 10 of 19 passes for 100 yards against Illinois with one interception. For the season, Mertz has connected on 72 of 129 passes for 781 yards with seven picks and two touchdowns. Kendric Pryor, Danny Davis III and tight end Jake Ferguson each have 16 receptions.

Wisconsin has lost five fumbles and nine interceptions, with two picks returned for touchdowns in a 41-13 loss to Notre Dame.

Army fell behind 21-0 in the first quarter against Ball State, allowing a 99-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff.

Without Anderson, the Black Knights ran for a season-low 213 yards against Ball State. Anderson has run for 431 yards at 7.4 yards per carry with five touchdowns in four games.

Anderson has completed 8 of 15 passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns, and Jemel Jones is 7 of 13 for 135 yards and one TD with one interception.

The contest will be the first meeting between Army and Wisconsin.

“The opportunity is obvious, just to play a high-caliber, elite football program,” Monken said. “And they are one of the great football programs in the country.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA;  Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) walks from the field after being injured during the third quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz (chest) hurt against Michigan

Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz exited Saturday’s 38-17 home loss to Michigan with a chest injury.

Badgers coach Paul Chryst said Mertz went to a local hospital for further evaluation.

Mertz was injured when he was hit by Michigan’s Daxton Hill while being sacked during the first series of the third quarter.

Mertz was 8-of-15 passing for 115 yards and one touchdown before departing. Chase Wolf replaced him and was 3-of-8 passing for 52 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.

Chryst said that tight end Jake Ferguson also left with a chest injury. Ferguson had two catches for 28 yards.

Wisconsin (1-3, 0-2 Big Ten) has been outscored 79-30 over the last two games. The Badgers lost to Notre Dame 41-13 last week.

–Field Level Media