MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Chez Mellusi ran for 157 yards and two touchdowns, Braelon Allen added 141 yards and two more scores and No. 19 Wisconsin started the first season of Luke Fickell’s coaching tenure with a 38-17 victory over Buffalo on Saturday.
Fickell coached his first regular-season game since joining the Badgers after six seasons at Cincinnati. He was with Wisconsin for the Guaranteed Rate Bowl victory over Oklahoma State last season.
The sellout at Camp Randall Stadium — with an announced attendance of 76,224 spectators — was the first at Wisconsin since 2009.
Mellusi had an 89-yard touchdown run to make it 21-10 in the third quarter. He had 13 carries. Allen had 14 rushes, and caught seven passes for 25 yards.
“It’s a one-one punch,” Fickell said. “They’re really good friends, and sometimes you would think in an offense that might not be the same as it has been that it would be unique. ‘How can you have two really talented backs and they’re able to share the load?’ They’re a great example of what momentum and energy can do and what healthy competition looks like.”
Buffalo coach Maurice Linguist said the Bulls didn’t do a good job containing Mellusi and Allen.
“We were disappointed to see a couple of those long runs,” Linguist said. “We may have had a guy or two on the point of attack just not get the ball on the ground. It goes back to setting edges, running to the ball, downing the football and making tackles in space.”
SMU transfer Tanner Mordecai threw for 189 yards and a touchdown, and two interceptions, in his first start for the Badgers
Melusi had a 1-yard TD run to put the Badgers on the board first in the first quarter. Buffalo scored less than two minutes later when Cole Harrity caught a 7-yard pass from Cole Snyder.
The Badgers had 101 yards rushing in the first half but found their footing on the ground in the third with 150 yards in the quarter.
Chimere Dike caught a 29-yard touchdown pass that gave Wisconsin a 14-7 lead with a minute to go in the first half.
Buffalo’s Devin Grant picked off Mordecai’s pass at the 50 and returned it to the 16. But Alex McNulty missed a 34-yard field-goal attempt three plays later.
McNulty made a 53-yard field goal with seven seconds left in the first half to pull the Bulls to 14-10.
Harrity finished with five catches for 113 yards and two scores.
Wisconsin figures to stay at No. 19, or fall a couple spots.
Buffalo: Hosts Fordham next Saturday.
Wisconsin: At Washington State next Saturday.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll