(18) Wisconsin 34, Eastern Michigan 7: 2-minute drill

MADISON – No. 18 Wisconsin used a strong running game and a dominant defensive effort to overwhelm Eastern Michigan for a 34-7 victory Saturday night at Camp Randall Stadium.

Game Balls

Offense: The RB trio

The offensive line obviously deserves credit when you run for 352 yards, but the running backs will get the game ball for this one. Chez Mellusi, Jalen Berger and Isaac Guerendo all shined at different points, from Mellusi breaking off a 60-yard run on the first possession to Berger finding the end zone for the first time at home to Guerendo showing off his track speed on an 82-yard score. All of them took advantage of their opportunities and accounted for 298 of the 352 yards.

Defense: The front seven

For a second straight week the front seven dominated the game for the Badgers. Wisconsin had more points (24) than Eastern Michigan had yards (23) through the first half and the Eagles ended up averaging a paltry 2.6 yards per play. Between Penn State and Eastern Michigan, the Badgers have allowed 66 yards rushing (1.8 ypc) in the first two weeks and racked up 14 tackles for loss. If not for a pick-6 thrown by quarterback Chase Wolf, the defense would have gotten the shutout it deserved.

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In Case You Missed It

— Former linebacker Jack Cichy served as Wisconsin’s honorary captain. Cichy spent the last three years in the NFL, including winning a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay last season.

— A pair of F-16s performed a flyover right after the national anthem and a moment of silence in memory of the 20th anniversary of 9/11 attacks.

— Wisconsin honored its 2020 and 2021 UW Hall of Fame inductees throughout the game. It included the likes of former offensive tackle Gabe Carimi, former forwards Mike Wilkinson and Jon Leuer, and former basketball coach Bo Ryan.

— Two starters – cornerback Faion Hicks and safety Collin Wilder – did not play for undisclosed reasons. Alex Smith started for Hicks, while John Torchio was in for Wilder.

— Highly touted freshman Braelon Allen made his debut in the fourth quarter. The running back ran for six yards on his first carry and finished with seven carries for 30 yards and a touchdown.

— Wisconsin called Eastern Michigan among the dirtiest teams they’ve played. Several players singled out defensive lineman Turan Rush for his actions. He was caught on video stomping on Allen after his touchdown, sticking his fingers inside Graham Mertz’s facemask in the second quarter and tackle Tyler Beach said he spit in numerous players’ faces throughout the game.

Inside the Numbers

25:55 – That’s how long it took for Eastern Michigan to get a first down. The Eagles would end up with just three for the entire game.

11 – That’s how many times Wisconsin has held the opposing team without a touchdown in Jim Leonhard’s 50 games as defensive coordinator.

92 — That’s how many yards Wisconsin allowed, the eighth fewest in school history. All but 50 of those yards came on the final drive of the game.

144 — That’s how many yards Mellusi ran for in the game. That followed a 121-yard effort his his Wisconsin debut, becoming the first player since Corey Clement in 2013 to top 100 yards in each of his first two games with the Badgers.

15 — That’s how many straight running plays the Badgers used to open the game. They would eventually pass, as quarterback Graham Mertz ended up going 14-for-17 for 141 yards and no turnovers. Wisconsin is 5-0 with Mertz as the starter when he doesn’t turn the ball over.

What’s Next

Wisconsin (1-1) will get next week off before heading to Chicago to face No. 8 Notre Dame (2-0) at Solider Field on Sept. 25.