After a 3-3 finish in abbreviated regular season play, the Wisconsin football team was selected to play in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina against a 4-4 Wake Forest team from the ACC. Before the matchup, the Badgers had never played the Demon Deacons in the program’s history and entered as the slight favorite.
Wake Forest received the first-half kickoff and quickly went to work, using their high tempo offense behind the arm of redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Hartman to score a touchdown on a nine-play opening drive. The Demon Deacons continued their strong start on defense, forcing a three-and-out on Wisconsin’s first offensive possession.
On the next possession, the Badgers again struggled to stop the Wake Forest offense as they marched down the field in six plays to take a 14-0 lead.
The Badgers and Demon Deacons traded punts until Wisconsin scored its first points of the game on a two-yard touchdown run by sophomore fullback John Chenal, pulling the Badgers within one score.
Then, sparked by a blocked punt by sophomore Jaylan Franklin, the Badgers were set up inside the 10-yard line with just over five minutes left in the first half. They were able to punch it in the endzone on a quarterback sneak by redshirt freshman Graham Mertz to tie the game at 14. After yielding 14 early points, the stout Badgers defense shut down Wake Forest for the rest of the first half, forcing punts on the rest of their drives, leading to a 14-14 score at halftime.
The Badgers received the second-half kickoff but were not able to generate any offense as another three-and-out gave the ball back to Wake Forest. Much like the first half, the Demon Deacons started the third quarter hot.
After receiving the punt from the Badgers, Wake Forest drove 50 yards in just five plays to take a 21-14 lead. Though Wake Forest seemed to have the momentum at that moment, Wisconsin dominated the rest of the game on both sides of the ball and special teams.
The Badgers responded to the Wake Forest touchdown drive with a score of their own, set up by an electric 59-yard kickoff return by true freshman Devin Chandler and finished off by another Graham Mertz quarterback sneak, tying the game at 21.
The Badgers defense then stopped Wake Forest on a fourth down to hand the ball back to the offense with good field position. From there the defense went on a rampage, intercepting Hartman on four straight drives and setting up the offense to score 21 unanswered points to take a commanding 42-21 lead.
These three touchdowns came from senior fullback Mason Stokke, senior running back Garrett Groshek and true freshman running back Jalen Berger. The Demon Deacons added a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, but the rally wasn’t enough, resulting in a final score of 42-28, making the Wisconsin Badgers the 2020 Duke’s Mayo Bowl Champions.
The team was awarded a trophy for their victory and junior linebacker Jack Sanborn took home the game’s MVP award. In the locker room after the game, the team made waves on social media after the Mayo Bowl trophy was mistakenly dropped by quarterback Graham Mertz, causing it to shatter.
The incident was caught on video by several players and began to make rounds on large social media outlets. This incident provided some comedic relief for what has been a tough season for the Badgers both on and off the field. Wisconsin finished the 2020 season with a 4-3 record and high hopes for next season.