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Mertz, No. 14 Wisconsin rout Illinois 45-7 in Big Ten opener

Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college...
Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Illinois Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)(Morry Gash | AP)
Published: Oct. 23, 2020 at 10:44 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Graham Mertz threw five touchdown passes to match the Wisconsin record in his first career start and the No. 14 Badgers beat Illinois 45-7 on Friday night to open the pandemic-delayed Big Ten football season.

Mertz set a school record for completion percentage on 20-of-21 passing, finishing with 248 yards. His first touchdown going to Menomonie native Mason Stokke.

The lone incompletion was a pass that running back Garret Groshek dropped midway through the third quarter.

The redshirt freshman quarterback delivered a buzzworthy performance during the Big Ten’s long-awaited opening night. The Big Ten announced Aug. 11 that it would postpone all fall sports until the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic, then reversed itself Sept. 16 by saying it would begin the season in mid-October.

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