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Jalen Berger returns to Badgers' backfield early, helping first-half scoring drives against Eastern Michigan
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Jalen Berger returns to Badgers' backfield early, helping first-half scoring drives against Eastern Michigan

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Eastern Michigan Wisconsin Football

Wisconsin's Jalen Berger is stopped by Eastern Michigan's T.J. Peavy and Mark Lee Jr. during the first half on Saturday.

A week later than anticipated, Jalen Berger made his season debut for the University of Wisconsin football team Saturday night, and the running back quickly got the Badgers in position for opening-half scores against Eastern Michigan.

Chez Mellusi went in for a touchdown from 6 yards out to finish the Badgers' second drive but Berger, who didn't play in last week's loss to Penn State, got the majority of the carries. He went for 29 yards on six rushes as UW opened up a lead at Camp Randall Stadium.

University of Wisconsin football players are greeted by fans as they arrive at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, for a game against Eastern Michigan.

Berger's absence against Penn State was a bit of a mystery; he entered the game second on the depth chart behind Mellusi but Isaac Guerendo was Mellusi's backup. Coach Paul Chryst wasn't giving much in the way of answers this week to why Berger, last season's team rushing leader as a freshman, wasn't featured.

“Just because he didn’t play doesn’t mean he’s doing something wrong," Chryst said. "It’s also (we) liked what Chez did and Isaac did.”

Berger scored from 6 yards out in the second quarter to cap off a 11-play, 75-yard drive that put the Badgers ahead 17-0. That gave him 54 yards on 12 carries in the game's first 23 minutes.

He finished with 62 yards on 15 carries after working sparingly in the second half. Berger, Mellusi and Guerendo took the fourth quarter off after the Badgers opened up a 27-0 lead behind a rushing yards advantage of 303-2 through 45 minutes.

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