Badgers return to play, pound Michigan in Ann Arbor

Zach Hanley

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Wisconsin returned to the gridiron for the first time in 22 days Saturday — and the Badgers didn’t disappoint.

After battling a coronavirus outbreak inside the team, which reportedly included starting quarterback Graham Mertz, Wisconsin had to cancel two games after its season-opening win over Illinois. In its return, Paul Chryst’s team didn’t miss a beat, crushing Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines 49-11 at the Big House in Ann Arbor.

Chryst wouldn’t say before the game who would be the starter, but Mertz ended up being the man. While he was less efficient than his one-incompletion game against the Fighting Illini, Mertz got the Badgers out to a 28-0 halftime lead behind completing 8 of his 15 passes for 84 yards and one touchdown.

Nakia Watson was the offensive sparkplug behind the Badgers’ early lead, however. The tailback ran for two touchdowns in the first 30 minutes, while the Wisconsin defense stuff Michigan on a fourth-and-goal in the second quarter to preserve the shutout entering the locker room.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS

When there aren’t many fans allowed at the game, you have to put your MVP in the seats. And a guy named Tom Brady.

TWEET OF THE GAME

Normal capacity: 107,601. Saturday’s capacity: Not that.

UP NEXT

Wisconsin’s hopes for a Big Ten championship game appearance stayed alive by playing Saturday — each team need to play at least six games — and they improved with a win over a inter-division rival. Now comes one of the best teams in the Big Ten West, No. 23 Northwestern, next Saturday at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill.

Northwestern improved to 4-0 with a 27-20 win over Purdue on Saturday.