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Quick hits from Wisconsin Badgers' 45-7 victory over Illinois Fighting Illini
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Quick hits from Wisconsin Badgers' 45-7 victory over Illinois Fighting Illini

From the Relive Badgers' opening-night victory with State Journal's in-depth coverage of UW's rout of Illinois series
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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. 

GAME BALL

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.

THUMBS UP

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.

THUMBS DOWN

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

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