A quick look at the 14th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers' 45-7 victory over the Illinois Fighting Illini Friday night in the season opener at an empty Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
Graham Mertz: The redshirt freshman quarterback’s first career start was simply magnificent. Mertz completed his first 17 passes of the game and finished 20 of 21 for 248 yards and five touchdowns, tied for the most in program history.
Jake Ferguson: Mertz’s favorite target was the junior tight end from Madison Memorial, who finished with seven catches for 72 yards and three touchdowns.
UW’s running game: The Badgers needed a big night from Mertz through the air because they were having trouble getting consistent production on the ground. UW finished with 182 rushing yards, but it took 54 attempts — a 3.4 average — to reach that total.
BY THE NUMBERS
87 — passing yards for Illinois on 22 attempts.
95.2 — Mertz’s completion percentage, breaking the single-game program record previously held by Alex Hornibrook (18 of 19 vs. BYU in 2017).
308.3 — Mertz’s pass efficiency rating in the first half, when he was 14 of 14 for 190 yards and four touchdowns.
Stunning start: Twitter reacts to Graham Mertz's strong play
Stunning start: NFL stars, fans go crazy on Twitter over QB Graham Mertz's play in Badgers' victory
Take it from an expert
No dodging his talent
Wide awake now
Its 3:40 AM and i was going to go to sleep at hafltime but Badger football and Graham Mertz have reminded me thats not possible— Brevin Pritzl (@BrevinPritzl) October 24, 2020
Graham Mertz is winning minimum three Heismans.— Brandon Walker (@BWalkerSEC) October 24, 2020
Among the best
Graham Mertz is already the best QB Wisconsin has had since Russell Wilson.— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) October 24, 2020
The highest honor
If Graham Mertz wins a Heisman or National Championship, we have to get a special edition Merkts cheese spread with his name on it.— Peter Bukowski (@Peter_Bukowski) October 24, 2020
Signs pointed to success
Fan club growing
I have a crush .... on Graham Mertz ...— Ally Melby (@AllyyMelbyy) October 24, 2020
That is all.
Graham Mertz is the 1st overall pick in a few years. He’s a freak— Stu (@StuYeWest1) October 24, 2020
Making his case
Damn graham mertz like y’all should have been playin me lol— Jordan Taylor (@JMTaylor11) October 24, 2020
Bummer for Buckeyes
Can we all just give a collective sigh of relief that Graham Mertz will not be Justin Fields’ replacement— Parker (@ParkerChurchil1) October 24, 2020
A little too quick
Don't lose perspective
Ok, so Graham Mertz has been compared to Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield so far tonight. Let’s all take a breath and remember he’s playing Illinois.— Adam Gorney (@adamgorney) October 24, 2020
Etched in the record books
Graham Mertz finished with 17 straight completions. That is tied for the most consecutive completions in a game in Wisconsin history. (Tanner McEvoy vs Western Illinois in 2014)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 24, 2020
His 17 straight completions are also the 3rd-longest streak in a conference game in Big Ten history. pic.twitter.com/ASXT7APXr0
Just the beginning
It could happen
Is Graham Mertz the best quarterback to ever play football?— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) October 24, 2020
In this Series
Relive Badgers' opening-night victory with State Journal's in-depth coverage of UW's rout of Illinois
- 9 updates