Chez Mellusi ran for 144 yards and a touchdown, leading the Wisconsin No.18 to a 37-7 victory over Eastern Michigan on Saturday night.
Wisconsin (1-1, 0-1 Big Ten) racked up 352 rushing yards and also dominated in defense against Eastern Michigan (0-2), who had 92 yards on offense. The Eagles had three first tries.
Mellusi, a transfer from Clemson, became Wisconsin’s first return to record consecutive 100-yard rushing games in his first two games since Corey Clement in 2013.
The Badgers, generally known for their explosive run, also had exceptional performances from Isaac Guerendo and Jalen Berger. Berger, who missed the first game, had 15 carries for 62 yards and a touchdown.
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Guerendo reached the edge and ran 82 yards for his first career touchdown, which took Wisconsin’s lead to 24-0 with 4:40 left in the first half. Guerendo, a junior, posted the eighth longest TD in program history.
The Badgers excelled in defense, although two veteran starters didn’t play.
Safety John Torchio made his second career start in place of absent senior Collin Wilder. Alexander Smith was added to the cornerback position due to the absence of fifth-year senior Faion Hicks.
But mistakes, like those in their 16-10 loss to Penn State last week, were still frustrating for Wisconsin.
The Badgers failed to score inside the Eagles’ 10-yard line in their first series. Mellusi stumbled over a transfer from Graham Mertz on the first down and then the Badgers failed to score on three runs as a result of the mistake.
A keep-on-field penalty by Wisconsin wide receiver Danny Davis canceled a 36-yard touchdown pass by tight end Clay Cundiff in the first quarter.
The only highlight for Eastern Michigan was a 98-yard intercept return for a fourth-quarter touchdown by first-year defensive back David Carter, who knocked out Badgers reserve quarterback Chase. Wolf. The score was a career first for Carter.
Mertz came back in the fourth after Wolf intercepted.
Take it away
Eastern Michigan: The Eagles need to find some stability on offense, and that starts with settling on a starting QB. Junior Preston Hutchinson and senior Ben Bryant split the time at QB in Wisconsin. The pair combined for 76 passing yards. Hutchinson had three carries for 16 yards.
Wisconsin: The Badgers receivers saw some action on Saturday. Kendric Pryor led receivers with 54 yards, while Davis had 30.
Quarterback Graham Mertz completed 14 of 17 passes for 142 yards and no interceptions in more than three quarters.
A FEW SHEPHERDS FOR BADGERS
Berger received his first photos of the season on Saturday. Berger, a redshirt freshman did not play in Wisconsin’s season opener loss to Penn State.
Berger, a preseason candidate Doak Walker, rushed for a team-high 301 yards in four games last season.
Wisconsin will either hold steady or gain a few spots just outside the top 15.
Wisconsin: Depart next week before a high-profile clash against No.8 Notre Dame on September 25 at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Eastern Michigan: UMass tours Saturday.