Badgers fall to No. 19 Penn State in sloppy return to Camp Randall

MADISON, Wis. — The Badgers were just one yard away.

With 80,000 fans streaking Camp Randall in red and white for the first time in 651 days, the Badgers treated everyone to a nail-biter in a sloppy season-opening loss to Penn State.

Scoreless at halftime — a first for any Big Ten game since 2014 — No. 19 PSU and No. 12 Wisconsin traded touchdowns and field goals over the first 20 minutes of the second half.

But the Nittany Lions used the deep ball again and scored a quick drive after forcing a Badgers stop to take a 16-10 lead after missing the extra point.

That set up a chance for the Badgers, who were driving when quarterback Graham Mertz took a hard hit on a 3rd-and-6 near midfield.

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After a review, the play was called for targeted and sent Wisconsin inside the 25-yard-line. Later on the drive, Danny Davis made a remarkable grab to get the Badgers a first down just two yards out of the endzone, but Mertz fumbled the snap on the next play pushing the Badgers six yards back. On fourth down, Mertz threw an interception, effectively ending the Badgers’ chances to pull off the comeback.

Merz threw another pick as time expired on one last shot at the endzone.

Without Chenal

Wisconsin had to do it Saturday without its starting inside linebacker Leo Chenal, who announced before the game he tested positive for COVID-19.

Chenal is out for at least the first two games of the season.

Jump Around? Jump Around!

After nearly two years away from the stands, all of the Badger fans participated in Jump Around after the third quarter on Saturday.

Fox broadcast the entire celebration on national television, so EVERYONE got to experience it.

He Said It

The targeting call late in the fourth quarter on Mertz sent Ellis Brooks, one of Penn State’s best players, to the bench after he was ejected.

Even former Badger tailback Melvin Gordon said the rule has to change.

Up Next

Wisconsin returns to Camp Randall next Saturday as it hosts Eastern Michigan. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.