MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s wide receivers got a chance to showcase their skills against an overmatched opponent.
The Badgers want to see the performance continue as the Badgers open Big Ten Conference schedule at No. 3 Ohio State next weekend.
Braelon Allen rushed for three touchdowns to lead Wisconsin to a 66-7 victory over New Mexico State Saturday.
The three-TD performance for Allen matched a career high. The sophomore running back finished with 15 carries for 86 yards and three scores as the Badgers (2-1) rebounded from a 17-14 loss last week to Washington State.
Wisconsin’s receivers finished with 16 catches for 335 yards and three touchdowns. Skyler Bell caught 3 passes for 63 yards and two touchdowns, including a 49-yard TD catch. Junior Chimere Dike had 2 catches for 35 yards.
“We are obviously invested in our run game. That shows up week in and week out,” Dike said.
“We’re just trying to make our own name as receiver and as a group. I think we’re slowly doing that. I think we have a great group and I’m eager to see success with these guys I see work every day.”
Allen broke away for a 39-yard rush for a score to give Wisconsin a 7-0 lead just 90 seconds into the game.
Allen’s effort marked just the third time in his last 12 games that he’s been held under 100 yards.
Chez Mellusi had a 2-yard touchdown run to cap a seven-play, 63-yard yard drive that pushed Wisconsin’s lead to 14-0 with 14:56 to go in the first half.
Keontez Lewis caught an 18-yard touchdown pass to increase the Badgers’ lead to 21-0 with 12:22 left in the first half.
Badgers linebacker Maema Njongmeta got a pick on an Aggies deflection at New Mexico State’s 2-yard line that set up Allen’s second TD two plays later, a 1-yard rush that pushed Wisconsin to 28-0.
Quarterback Graham Mertz went 10 of 13 for 251 yards with three touchdowns and 1 interception in three-plus quarters. Mertz threw to six different receivers.
New Mexico State coach Jerry Kill said Mertz made an impact. “Wisconsin’s quarterback really played well and I’m impressed with him,” Kill said.
Myles Burkett, a true freshman, replaced Mertz with 5:34 to go in the third quarter. Deacon Hill was inserted with less than 30 seconds remaining in the third.
The Aggies (0-4) just had 100 yards of offense in the first half. They collected 82 yards during a 13-play drive with less than 3 minutes remaining.
New Mexico State kicker Ethan Albertson missed a 29-yard field goal try with 4 seconds left in the first half and its only score was a 1-yard rush for a touchdown by Ahmonte Watkins with 8:10 left in the game.
The Aggies got flagged seven times for 68 yards in the loss.
New Mexico State coach Jerry Kill said the Aggies had a tough time competing against the Badgers.
“You don’t mess with anybody in the Big Ten,” said Kill, whose team lost to Minnesota 38-0 three weeks ago.
“They’re physical football teams and they’re well coached. Wisconsin just took it to us.”
Wisconsin kicker Vito Calvaruso, who missed 51- and 43-yard field-goal attempts last week in the Badgers’ 17-14 loss to Washington State, was sidelined with a right leg injury.
Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst attributed the Badgers’ well-balanced attack on offense to Mertz’s effort.
In addition to 335 yards passing, the Badgers posted 260 rushing yards.
“The one thing that Graham has been doing a good job is to take what’s there,” Chryst said.
“Certainly, a lot of guys putting themselves in position is a good thing. When the ball gets spread around, I think it’s always healthy.”
New Mexico State: The Aggies have posted two losses to Big Ten Conference opponents this season. New Mexico State suffered a 38-0 loss at Minnesota on Sept. 1. First-season Aggies coach Jerry Kill, still searching for his first win, was head coach at Minnesota from 2011-15.
Wisconsin: The Badgers defense scored 14 points off two of three New Mexico State interceptions. Wisconsin scored touchdowns following picks by Maema Njongmeta and Bryan Sanborn.
Wisconsin, which fell out of the Top 25 poll last week, likely won’t gain much ground to get back in the rankings.
New Mexico State: Hosts Hawaii on Saturday.
Wisconsin: The Badgers play at No. 3 Ohio State on Saturday.
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