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Wisconsin dominates New Mexico State: Game notes and top plays

A look back at some of the top plays and notable statistics to come out of Saturday's 59-point win for the Wisconsin Badgers.
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The Wisconsin Badgers (2-1 overall) left little doubt who was the better team on Saturday, beating New Mexico State straightforwardly 66-7. 

The game was over relatively quickly and the Badgers were able to use their reserves for a large part of the second half. 

Game Recaps:

Following the game, head coach Paul Chryst spoke with media members about his team's performance which featured several big plays.

Here is a look at some of the significant game notes from the contest and five of the top plays from Wisconsin's big win. 

Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz standing on the sidelines during the fourth quarter against New Mexico State.

Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz standing on the sidelines after another strong performance on Saturday. 

Game Notes

  • Wisconsin scored 66 points versus New Mexico State. That was the most points by the Badgers in a single game since 2014 against Bowling Green and it was the first 60-point performance since when they beat Central Michigan 61-0 in 2019. 
  • The 59-point victory was the largest scoring differential in favor of Wisconsin since 2010 when UW beat Indiana 83-20 in 2013. 
  • The Badgers had 335 passing yards against the Aggies on Saturday. Graham Mertz threw for over 200 yards for the third consecutive game, while backup quarterback Myles Burkett also threw for 84 yards. Burkett had his first career pass completion during the contest, while both quarterbacks finished the game completing 80% of their pass attempts. 
  • Redshirt freshman wide receiver Skyler Bell led the Badgers in receptions (4), receiving yards (108), and receiving touchdowns (2) against New Mexico State. The game was Bell's third straight game with multiple receptions, and the two touchdown catches were the first of his career. 
  • Wide receiver Keontez Lewis also had his first career touchdown reception on Saturday, while receiver Dean Engram had three receptions for 63 yards, including his first collegiate catch. 
  • Freshmen kickers Nate Van Zelst and Gavin Lahm each saw action for the first time against New Mexico State due to injuries. Van Zelst made his first college field goal from 29-yards out, while Lahm had six touchbacks on 11 kickoffs. 
  • Wisconsin ran all over New Mexico State. Three different running backs had over 70 yards rushing and the trio of Braelon Allen, Chez Mellusi, and Isaac Guerendo combined for six touchdowns. Allen had three touchdowns in the first half, while Guerendo had two total scores.  
  • Julius Davis also ran for 45 yards, including a 33-yard run in the fourth quarter. He, Braelon Allen, and Isaac Guerendo each had a run of 30+ yards in the game. 
  • Braelon Allen is the first Wisconsin running back to rush for 17 touchdowns in his first 15 games since PJ Hill in 2006-2007. 
Fourth string running back Julius Davis breaking away on a 33-yard run against New Mexico State.

Reserve running back Julius Davis breaking away on a 33-yard run against New Mexico State. 

  • Defensively, cornerback Ricardo Hallman, linebacker Jake Chaney, and linebacker Maema Njongmeta each recorded the first interceptions of their career on Saturday. Chaney also had a career-high four tackles.
  • Linebacker Nick Herbig is now up to four sacks this season, and he has had a sack in four consecutive games dating back to last season. 
  • Outside linebacker C.J. Goetz led Wisconsin in tackles with six against New Mexico State. The senior linebacker also had 1.5 tackles for loss.
  • The Wisconsin defense has now had an interception in eight straight games going back to 2021. 

Top Plays

1. Ricardo Hallman's one-handed interception in the first quarter

Redshirt freshman cornerback Ricardo Hallman made his first career interception count on Saturday. The Florida native hauled in a highlight-reel interception with one hand early in the game while in man coverage. While the offense was unable to convert the turnover into points, it was the top individual effort of the day. 

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2. Graham Mertz to Skyler Bell (2X)

It was hard to pick just one of the throws from Graham Mertz to Skyler Bell, so why not both?

Mertz was tremendous throughout the game against New Mexico State, and his favorite target was freshman Skyler Bell. The first touchdown reception came midway through the third quarter when Mertz found Bell in an open zone and Bell made a nifty move to maneuver his way to the end zone. 

While that play was great, Mertz delivered a laser down the left sideline to Bell on the next drive to generate another touchdown. Bell was able to get both feet in the corner of the end zone. 

3. Dean Engram's diving catch while coming back to the football

Dean Engram and backup quarterback Myles Burkett proved to be a solid pairing late in the third quarter with back-to-back completions. However, Engram's ability to adjust to an underthrown ball and ultimately reel in a tough catch was one of the best plays of the game. While the play came late in the game when the victory was already in hand, it was a tremendous grab. 

4. Braelon Allen scores right away on a patient TD run

Braelon Allen wasted little time finding the end zone against New Mexico State. On his third carry of the game, Allen broke off a 39-yard touchdown run to put the Badgers on the scoreboard within the first two minutes. He displayed patience and burst on the run, making a subtle jump cut through the whole and then pulling away from the defense with his speed. Allen finished the game with three rushing touchdowns. 

5. Maema Njongmeta intercepts a pass deep in New Mexico State territory

After the New Mexico State throw bounces off the running back's facemask, linebacker Maema Njongmeta made a heads-up play to come away with the football. Njongmeta had the first interception of his career, and it set up a two-yard touchdown run by Chez Mellusi moments later. 

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