Wisconsin commit Graham Mertz puts on a show in playoff win

Graham Mertz is expected to enroll at Wisconsin in January, but on Friday night the four-star quarterback commit was putting on a show in the Kansas high school playoffs, leading Blue Valley North to a 51-49 victory over Olathe North in a state semi-final.

In a back-and-forth game, Mertz threw for 519 yards and five touchdowns, while also running for another score.

Here’s a collection of his highlights from the game:

Wisconsin Football Roundtable: Nov. 16, 2018

On this week’s Wisconsin Football Roundtable, Zach and our former Badgers — Anthony Davis, Montee Ball and Travis Beckum — breakdown the loss to Penn State, talk about whether this season is just a one-year dip for the program and look ahead to the matchup with Purdue.

The Swing: Nov. 14, 2018

On this week’s episode of “The Swing,” Zach and Jesse look back at the big win over Xavier, chat with assistant coach Howard Moore and answer your Twitter questions.

1:17 — Jesse believes Wisconsin has found its third scorer

7:01 — Brad Davison’s Gator chomp was…

11:15 — Fact or fiction
1) We’re making too much of a win over Xavier
2) Wisconsin is an NCAA tournament team
3) D’Mitrik Trice will shoot better than 40% from 3
4) I’m concerned about Wisconsin’s free throw shooting

19:19 — Howard Moore interview

36:31 — Twitter questions
1) Do you guys see what I see? Better offensive spacing and patience. Connected defensively, no dumb fouls and solid boxouts. Night and day compared to last year. This team is top 3 in the B1G good (Moki)
2) Is D’Mitrik Trice the 2nd best player on this team? (Tyler)
3) Our starters can’t play like this every night. Are you concerned about the lack of bench points? (Beau)
4) With Alex Illikainen leaving the Badgers only have 3 forwards on the roster. Is there a plan for how they survive until Ford can return? (Steve)

Wisconsin 77, Xavier 68: Last word

Ethan Happ scored 30 points and D’Mitrik Trice added 22 as Wisconsin went on the road and beat Xavier 77-68 on Tuesday night as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games.

Player of the Game: Happ

The preseason All-American followed up his triple-double in the opener by scoring 30 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and handing out five assists. Despite a tough matchup with the front court of Xavier, Happ was once again dominant and didn’t let the constant trash talk rattle him. Through two games — yes, it’s just two games — Happ has been everything the Badgers could have hoped when he made the smart decision to return for his senior year.

The good: Trice

Trice lit up Coppin State last week to the tune of 21 points, which was a career high. He topped that effort on the road Tuesday night with 22 points. The sophomore guard was once again deadly from the outside, going 5-for-5 on 3-pointers. He’s now hit five 3s in back-to-back games. Trice also ran a couple of pretty pick-and-rolls with Happ, which helped him contribute five assists.

Everyone knew the Badgers missed Trice after he went down last year, but he’s showing just how much they missed him.

The not so good: Free-throw shooting

Yuck. After going 23 of 26 in the opener, Wisconsin was 6-for-13 against Xavier. It was a throwback to last season when they finished 238th in the country in free throw percentage. Luckily for the Badgers, they had a big lead and the misses didn’t impact the outcome. They might not be so fortunate next time.

Stat of the game: 71

That’s how many points the trio of Happ, Trice and Brad Davison scored on the night. The Badgers’ big three were nearly unstoppable and it helped the team overcome an off night from the rest of the roster, which combined to go 2 of 16 from the field.

What they said:


Best video

In Case You Missed It:

— Wisconsin snapped Xavier’s 41-game non-conference home winning streak that dated to 2012.

— The Badgers have had seven turnovers in each of their first two games, a marked improvement from their average of 10.7 per game a year ago.

— This was the fourth year of the Gavitt Tipoff Games and the third year Wisconsin has played in it. This was the Badgers first win after losing to Creighton in 2016 and Xavier in 2017.

What’s next?

Wisconsin (2-0) will host Houston Baptist on Saturday night at the Kohl Center.

Alex Illikainen leaves Wisconsin basketball team

Alex Illikainen has left the Wisconsin basketball team.

The school announced Monday afternoon that the senior forward decided to leave the program but will remain in school.

“We wish Alex luck as he continues to pursue earning his degree from the University of Wisconsin in May,” head coach Greg Gard said in statement sent out by Wisconsin. “We also want to thank him for his efforts during his three-plus years with our program.”

Illikainen was the only player suited up for last Tuesday’s game against Coppin State not to play. A member of the 2015 recruiting class, the Minnesota product played in 85 games, averaging 1.5 points and 1.3 rebounds per game. As those numbers suggest, he never truly found a role with the team, seeing his playing time decrease each season to where he played just 6.8 minutes in 25 games last year.

With Illikainen leaving, the lone veteran big man off the bench right now is senior Charlie Thomas.

Wisconsin will visit Xavier on Tuesday night as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games.

Penn State 22, Wisconsin 10: 2-minute drill

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Jonathan Taylor ran for 185 yards and a touchdown, but he was about the only thing that worked offensively as Wisconsin fell for a third time in five games, the latest being a 22-10 setback at Penn State on Saturday.

Game Balls

Offense: Taylor

As has been the case for much of the season, Taylor was the lone bright spot offensively. He took his second carry 71 yards for a touchdown and finished with 185 yards on 20 carries. While the offensive line struggled in pass protection, they opened up enough holes for the sophomore back. The touchdown was especially impressive as he ran through a huge hole, broke one tackle and then turned on the jets, outrunning the entire Penn State defense for the score. He’s now averaging 154.8 yards per game, tops in the country.

Defense: TJ Edwards

They wouldn’t say it afterwards, but the defense gave the Badgers a chance to win on Saturday. Edwards was a big part of that. Penn State ran for 183 yards, but averaged just 3.9 yards per carry to get it done. The senior linebacker finished with a season-high 14 tackles, including 12 solo stops. He was part of a linebacking core that accounted for 6.5 tackles for loss and three sacks.

Special Teams: Isaiahh Loudermilk

Yeah, it was one of those days for the special teams. Not a ton going on. But Loudermilk came up with a big play in the final seconds of the first half, getting his hand up and blocking a Penn State field goal attempt. It kept the game 16-7 and stunted the Nittany Lions momentum heading into halftime.

What they said

“No, it’s the guys that jump.”

— Paul Chryst when asked about all the pre-snap penalties and whether those were the result of the team being ill-prepared.

In Case You Missed It

— Starting quarterback Alex Hornibrook didn’t make the trip to Penn State as he deals with a second concussion this season. Sophomore Jack Coan got the start in his place.

— Offensive lineman Jon Dietzen, safety Scott Nelson and linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel all suffered injuries during the game but were able to return. Running back Taiwan Deal sustained a leg injury in the third quarter and did not come back.

— Fullback John Chenal was in on special teams work on Saturday. It was his fifth game, meaning he will not redshirt this season. He joins defensive lineman Bryson Williams, linebacker Jack Sanborn, wide receiver Aron Cruickshank and cornerback Rachad Wildgoose as true freshmen that have played more than the four games allowed to maintain a redshirt year.

Inside the Numbers

8 — That’s where Jonathan Taylor ranks all-time at Wisconsin in rushing yards, passing Alan Ameche, John Clay, Terrell Fletcher and Brent Moss on Saturday. He’s now got 3,525 yards in 24 games.

4 — That’s how many Badgers have now run for 1,500 yards in back-to-back seasons after Taylor improved his total to 1,548 in 2018. He joins Ron Dayne, Montee Ball and Melvin Gordon as the other backs to do it.

2001 — Prior to 2018, that’s the last time Wisconsin lost at least three Big Ten games by more than seven points.

4 — That’s how many turnovers Coan was responsible for on Saturday — two fumbles and two interceptions. He’s now had a hand in six turnovers over the 10 quarters he’s played the last three games.

60 — That’s how many yards Coan threw for against Penn State. It’s the fewest yards by a Wisconsin starting quarterback in a loss since Tanner McEvoy had just 50 yards in the season opener against LSU in 2014.

What’s Next

Wisconsin (6-4, 4-3) will travel to Purdue to take on the Boilermakers next Saturday.

Video: Badgers’ commit Graham Mertz throws 6 TDs in playoff game

Graham Mertz put on a show Friday night in the third round of the Kansas high school playoffs.

The Wisconsin quarterback commit threw six touchdowns as Blue Valley North crushed Gardner Edgerton 49-28.

Here’s a look at some of his best work via the Blazers Broadcast Network.


Wisconsin Football Roundtable: Nov. 9, 2018

This week’s episode of the Wisconsin Football Roundtable brings The Athletic’s Jesse Temple on to talk about what has gone wrong with the offense, while our former Badgers — Anthony Davis, Montee Ball and Travis Beckum — look back at the Rutgers game and what Wisconsin can expect on its trip to Penn State.