Charlotte, N.C. —No matter what the stage is Wisconsin rise to the occasion and always seems to find a way to get the job done.
Very little has come easily for Badgers coach Paul Chryst and his players in 2020.
Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz accounted for three touchdowns and Wisconsin turned four second-half turnovers into 21 points to beat Wake Forest 42-28 in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl on Wednesday.
Mertz threw for 130 yards and ran for two touchdowns — the first rushing TDs of his career — the Badgers (4-3) finished their 2020 season on a great note. The win gives Wisconsin a 19th-consecutive season with a winning record, the third-longest streak among FBS teams.
Wisconsin down by 14-points with just 7 minutes into the game stunned the Badgers for a bit.
Wake Forest hadn’t played since Dec. 12 but didn’t show any rust as it jumped out to a 14-0 lead after its first two drives of the game. The Demon Deacons offense stumbled a bit, which allowed Wisconsin to tie things up at 14 by halftime.
The Badgers also improved to 17-15 all-time in bowl games and have won six of their last seven bowls, dating to the 2014 season.
With the game knotted at 21 late in third quarter, Noah Burks intercepted picked off Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman on a pass intended for receiver who didn’t get his head turned around. Burks ran the ball for 41 yards to set up a 14-yard scoring dart from Mertz to running back Mason Stokke giving the Badgers their first lead of the contest.
Hartman, who had thrown only one interception all season, was picked off on the next three possessions as well.
Hartman finished 20 of 37 passing for 318 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions.
Scott Nelson pick a 60-yard interception return and Collin Wilde returned a interception 72 yards to set up TD runs that gave Wisconsin a 42-21 advantage, resulting in Hartman getting benched. Linebacker Jack Sanborn had 11 tackles and an interception and was named MVP of the game.
Wake Forest (4-5) outgained Wisconsin 518-266 on offense, but the Badgers had 176 return yards off interceptions. Hartman threw three touchdown passes to Jacquarii Roberson to give the Demon Deacons a 21-14 lead early in the third quarter against the nation’s No. 1-ranked defense before Wisconsin amped up their defensive alignment and pressure.
Graham Mertz, QB, Wisconsin: 11-of-17, 130 yards, one touchdown.
Jack Dunn, WR, Wisconsin: six receptions, 60 yards.
Jack Sanborn, LB, Wisconsin: 11 total tackles, two tackles for loss, one interception.
Sam Hartman, QB, Wake Forest: 20-of-37, 318 yards, three touchdowns, four interceptions; five carries, eight yards.