GAMEDAY College Football

Wisconsin 38, Illinois State 0

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

AP Sports Writer

MADISON, Wis. - Braelon Allen had a 96-yard touchdown scamper for the longest run from scrimmage in Wisconsin history and John Torchio had the school's longest interception return as the 18th-ranked Badgers opened their season with a 38-0 rout of Illinois State.

Torchio opened the scoring with a 100-yard interception return late in the first quarter.

Wisconsin's longest run from scrimmage before Allen's was James White's 93-yard burst in a 51-3 triumph over Indiana in 2013. Torchio broke the record previously held by Joe Ferguson, who scored on a 99-yard interception return in a 59-10 victory over Utah State in 2017.

Allen ended up with 148 yards and two touchdowns - including a 1-yard score on fourth-and-goal in the third quarter - on 14 carries.

"We were all anxious to get going and be able to play," Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. "It seemed like a long day today, but once we got here and got going, it felt good to be back and get the season under way."

Wisconsin had one other big play aside from the two record-setting touchdowns.

Chimere Dike caught a pass around the line of scrimmage and turned it into a 74-yard gain, the longest completion of third-year starter Graham Mertz's career. Mertz found Dike all alone in the left corner of the end zone three plays later for a 16-yard touchdown that extended Wisconsin's lead to 31-0 late in the third quarter.

Illinois State was facing a Big Ten team for the first time since 2016, when the Football Championship Subdivision program won 9-7 at Northwestern on a field goal as time expired.

But the Badgers took the suspense out of this one early. Illinois State lost its main weapon on offense when running back Cole Mueller was carted off the field on the Redbirds' second series. Mueller rushed for a team-high 977 yards last season.

The Redbirds did make things interesting for a little while, though.

Illinois State outgained Wisconsin 78-6 and possessed the ball for over 13 1/2 minutes in the first quarter, but still trailed 7-0 because of Torchio's takeaway.

The Redbirds faced second-and-10 from the 12 when Minnesota transfer Zack Annexstad attempted to throw across the middle to tight end Tanner Taula, who was standing around the goal line.

Torchio picked off the pass, headed to his right and capitalized on downfield blocks from teammates Max Lofy and Hunter Wohler to make it to the other end zone.

"He forced a ball in where it shouldn't have gone," Illinois State coach Brock Spack said. "That's what you learn in a game like this. You make that kind of mistake, a great player on a good football team can turn it into 100 yards the other way."

The Badgers produced their next record-setting play 90 seconds into the second quarter.

Wisconsin was facing first-and-14 at its own 4 when Allen took a handoff and looked for running room. Illinois State outside linebacker Zeke Vandenburgh had his hands on Allen in the backfield, but the 18-year-old sophomore broke out of his grasp and found a huge hole on the right side of the line.

Allen took off and headed down the right sideline. Cornerback Franky West tried to chase the ball carrier down and made a diving attempt at an ankle tackle inside the 10, but Allen made it into the right corner of the end zone.

"We've been fortunate we've been able to hand the ball off and have those plays become chunk plays," Chryst said of Allen's breakaway.


Illinois State: Annexstad went 16 of 24 for 186 yards in his Illinois State debut, but also threw two interceptions. The big concern facing Illinois State is how the Redbirds will run the ball if Mueller is out for an extended period. Mueller rushed for 21 yards on three carries before his injury. The rest of Illinois State's players combined for 36 yards on 23 carries.

Wisconsin: The most encouraging sign for the Badgers was the efficient performance of Mertz, who threw more interceptions (11) than touchdown passes (10) last season.

Scoring Summary
First Quarter IllStWisc
Wisc TD 1:52 John Torchio 100 yard interception return for TD (Vito Calvaruso Extra Point) 0 7
Second Quarter IllStWisc
Wisc TD 13:15 Braelon Allen 96 yard TD run (Vito Calvaruso Extra Point) 0 14
Wisc FG 3:11 Vito Calvaruso 28 yard field goal 0 17
Third Quarter IllStWisc
Wisc TD 9:36 Braelon Allen 1 yard TD run (Vito Calvaruso Extra Point) 0 24
Wisc TD 2:55 Chimere Dike 16 yard TD pass from Graham Mertz (Vito Calvaruso Extra Point) 0 31
Fourth Quarter IllStWisc
Wisc TD 8:57 Isaac Guerendo 1 yard TD run (Vito Calvaruso Extra Point) 0 38
Team Stats
  Illinois State Wisconsin
First downs 14 18
  Rushing 3 8
  Passing 9 10
  Penalty 2 0
3rd Down Efficiency 3-11, 27% 4-9, 44%
4th down efficiency 0-0, -% 2-2, 100%
Rushes-Yards 26-57 37-221
Passing Yards 186 219
Return Yards 2 126
Completions-Attempts-Int 16-24-2 14-16-0
Sacks-Yards Lost 3-21 3-17
Punts 7 2
Fumbles Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties - Yards 3-20 5-51
Illinois State Passing
Player Cmp Att Yds TDs Int
Z. Annexstad 16 24 186 0 2
Wisconsin Passing
Player Cmp Att Yds TDs Int
G. Mertz 14 16 219 1 0
Illinois State Rushing
Player Carries Yds Avg TDs
N. White 4 22 5.5 0
C. Mueller 3 21 7.0 0
W. Wright 8 16 2.0 0
P. Brown 3 10 3.3 0
Z. Annexstad 8 -12 -1.5 0
Wisconsin Rushing
Player Carries Yds Avg TDs
B. Allen 14 148 10.6 2
C. Mellusi 10 48 4.8 0
J. Davis 6 37 6.2 0
I. Guerendo 2 3 1.5 1
G. Mertz 4 -6 -1.5 0
M. Burkett 1 -9 -9.0 0
Illinois State Receiving
Player Rec Yds Avg TDs
D. Sobkowicz 2 41 20.5 0
W. Wright 2 37 18.5 0
B. Annexstad 2 36 18.0 0
J. Carr 2 36 18.0 0
T. Taula 2 27 13.5 0
C. Mueller 1 5 5.0 0
J. Carter 1 5 5.0 0
P. Brown 1 0 0.0
B. Deming 3 -1 -.3 0
Wisconsin Receiving
Player Rec Yds Avg TDs
C. Dike 3 106 35.3 1
M. Allen 3 34 11.3 0
H. Rucci 2 27 13.5 0
C. Cundiff 2 23 11.5 0
S. Bell 2 21 10.5 0
I. Guerendo 1 6 6.0 0
C. Mellusi 1 2 2.0 0
Illinois State Interceptions
Player Int Yards
Wisconsin Interceptions
Player Int Yards
J. Torchio 1 100
P. Zachman 1 0
Illinois State Punting
Player Punts Yards Avg
J. Takerian 7 226 32.3
Wisconsin Punting
Player Punts Yards Avg
A. Vujnovich 2 88 44.0
Illinois State Punt Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
F. West 1 -1 -1.0
Wisconsin Punt Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
D. Engram 2 -7 -3.5
Illinois State Kick Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
C. Leyden 1 3 3.0
Wisconsin Kick Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
I. Guerendo 1 33 33.0
Illinois State Missed FG
Player Length
Wisconsin Missed FG
Player Length

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