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COVID to keep Wisconsin QB1 out for three weeks

Wisconsin will indeed be without starting quarterback Graham Mertz for three weeks, according to multiplereports on Tuesday.

Mertz originally tested positive via an antigen test on Sunday, whose positivity was confirmed through a PCR test on Tuesday.

Wisconsin is the first contending team -- the Badgers are No. 9 in this week's AP poll -- to lose their starting quarterback to a positive COVID test, and the first Big Ten team to lose a player for 21 days, the strictest return-to-play requirements in college football.

From the Big Ten:

All COVID-19 positive student-athletes will have to undergo comprehensive cardiac testing to include labs and biomarkers, ECG, Echocardiogram and a Cardiac MRI. Following cardiac evaluation, student-athletes must receive clearance from a cardiologist designated by the university for the primary purpose of cardiac clearance for COVID-19 positive student-athletes. The earliest a student-athlete can return to game competition is 21 days following a COVID-19 positive diagnosis.

He will miss Wisconsin's games with Nebraska, Purdue and No. 13 Michigan.

It is an example of supreme cruelty that this would happen now to Wisconsin, of all programs. Mertz was the No. 3-ranked pro-style passer in the Class of 2019 and dazzled in his first career start, connecting on 20-of-21 throws for 248 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions in Wisconsin's 45-7 defeat of Illinois on Friday night. That performance sparked belief in Madison that Mertz could blossom into Bucky's best quarterback since Russell Wilson.

Wisconsin was already without incumbent starter Jack Coan, who is out indefinitely after undergoing foot surgery earlier this month and third-stringer Chase Wolf could be lost to COVID protocols as well, which would put the Badgers down to their No. 4 quarterback for nearly half of their remaining schedule.

If Wolf is out as well, Wisconsin would be down to just two quarterbacks on the roster -- freshman Daniel Wright and junior Danny Vanden Boom. Wright has never thrown a pass, Vanden Boom has tossed one.

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.