DANNY K. DAVIS
Mertz, No. 14 Wisconsin rout Illinois 45-7 in Big Ten opener
14 Badgers beat Illinois 45-7 on Friday night to open the pandemic-delayed Big Ten football season. Mertz became the first-team quarterback after returning starter Jack Coan underwent foot surgery on Oct. 7, leaving him out indefinitely. After Illinois fumbled the ball away on the game’s second play from scrimmage, Mertz hit fullback Jason Stokke for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Mertz responded to Illinois’ touchdown by throwing a 34-yard completion to Ferguson and then hitting the senior tight end again for a 14-yard score with 1:06 left in the half. After Illinois went three-and-out on its next series, Mertz threw deep and found Danny Davis for a 53-yard touchdown pass with 28 seconds left until halftime.