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Penn State survives Week 1 rock fight with 16-10 win over Wisconsin

The Week 1 battle of ranked teams in the Big Ten belonged to the Nittany Lions.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 19 Penn State Nittany Lions emerged victorious in the Week 1 road opener at the No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers, exiting Camp Randall with a 16-10 victory. With Wisconsin threatening in the red zone late, safety Jaquan Brisker picked off quarterback Graham Mertz with 2:16 left in the fourth to help lift PSU to victory.

Saturday’s season opener proved to be your prototypical, rock fight Big Ten game early with defense and special teams reigning supreme as both offenses struggled in the first half. Wisconsin (0-1, 0-1 Big Ten) had two different opportunities to get points on the board in the second quarter but came up empty-handed as one resulted in a blocked field goal attempt and the other resulting in Mertz fumbling in the red zone.

The two teams entered the half scoreless, the first time since 2016 that a battle between two teams ranked in the top 25 went into halftime tied 0-0.

Both teams finally traded offensive punches coming out of the break, with Sean Clifford hitting Jahan Dotson for a Penn State (1-0, 1-0 Big Ten) score before the Badgers capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive with a Chez Mellusi touchdown to tie the game at 7-all.

The two teams traded field goals before Penn State re-took the lead with a two-yard Noah Cain touchdown run with 9:16 left to go up 16-10. From there, Wisconsin methodically marched down the field and penetrated deep into Nittany Lion territory. It was on 4th and 8 where Mertz where Mertz threw that game-altering pick to Brisker.

The Badgers would get one last opportunity within the last minute, where Ji’Ayir Brown picked off Mertz as time expired to ice it. Penn State ended up covering as 5.5-point underdogs, per DraftKings Sportsbook.