No. 19 Wisconsin 38, Buffalo 17: 2-minute drill

MADISON — No. 19 Wisconsin overcame a sluggish start to earn a 38-17 win over Buffalo in coach Luke Fickell’s home debut on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.

Game Balls


Chez Mellusi and Braelon Allen

Mellusi and Allen have called themselves the best running back duo in college football. On Saturday, they played like it, combining for 298 yards and four scores. Mellusi looked as quick and explosive as he ever has in a Wisconsin uniform on his way to a career-high 157 yards and two touchdowns. It included an 89-yard weaving run that was his longest in college and tied for the fifth-longest in school history.

It took Allen a little bit longer to get going but he followed up Mellusi’s long run by getting 56 yards on five carries on the next possession and finishing it off with a 6-yard touchdown. He also added seven catches for 25 yards, finishing with 166 total yards on the day.

Defense: Hunter Wohler

A lot is being asked of the sophomore safety in Mike Tressel’s defense and he delivered in Game 1. He finished with a career-high 11 tackles, including 10 solo stops. He played a role in helping stop Buffalo on both of its fourth-and-1 tries and was rarely challenged in coverage. A better spread attack like the one Washington State figures to employ next week will challenge Wohler and the Badgers secondary further.

Best Video

Tanner Mordecai’s first touchdown in a Wisconsin uniform came on a pretty pass to Chimere Dike for a 29-yard touchdown

Allen delivering some punishment

Best Tweets

The Wisconsin great liking what he saw from Braelon Allen

Former Wisconsin All-American and member of the recruiting staff showing off Jump Around

What They Said

Allen on maintaining an identity as a running team even with the change in offense

“We are R-B-U at the end of the day regardless of what type of philosophy it is or what the title of it is, it’s going to go through the backs.”

Luke Fickell on Allen and Mellusi both being lead backs

“You say it’s a one-two punch, I think it’s a one-one punch.”

In Case You Missed It

— Former Wisconsin fullback Derek Watt served as the honorary captain.

— Temperature at kickoff was 88 degrees. It marks the second-warmest game in Camp Randall Stadium history, trailing only the 2011 game against UNLV where it was 90 degrees.

— The announced attendance for the game was 76,224, which was a sellout, the first in a season opener since 2009. The crowd thinned out, especially on the east side of the stadium where the sun was beating down throughout the game.

— Buffalo got $1.3 million from Wisconsin to come to Madison for the game.

— A number of true freshmen made their debut for Wisconsin: tight end Tucker Ashcraft (2 catches, 36 yards), linebacker Christian Alleigro and punter Atticus Bertrams.

— Wisconsin hit the transfer portal hard, bringing in 15 scholarship players. Quite a few of them played significant roles, including Mordecai, wide receiver Will Pauling and Bryson Green, offensive lineman Joe Huber, nickel back Jason Maitre and cornerback Nyzier Fourqurean.

— Linebacker Jordan Turner was flagged for targeting and ejected in the fourth quarter. Because it happened in the second half, the sophomore will miss the first half against Washington State.

Inside the Numbers

2-for-15 — That is what Buffalo was on third down. The 13.3% conversion rate was the lowest by a Wisconsin opponent since Rutgers converted 9.1% of its third downs in 2021.

312 — That is what Wisconsin ran for on the day, the most in a single game since going for 391 against Illinois in 2021.

2 — That is how many interceptions Mordecai threw on the day. He told reporters that the first one was thrown behind his intended receiver and the second was a poor decision. The senior transfer did have one touchdown, a 29-yard strike to Chimere Dike in the first half. He also should have had a 60-yard touchdown but Skyler Bell dropped the ball. For the game, he went 24-for-31 and 189 yards.

7 — That is how many different receivers caught a pass. It’s eight if you count Mordecai catching one of his own passes on a batted ball.

8 — That’s how many points new kicker Nathaniel Vakos accounted for on the day. He hit all five of his extra points and drilled a 37-yard field goal.

What’s Next

Wisconsin (1-0) will visit Washington State next Saturday night. Kick is at 6:30 p.m. on ABC.