The Wisconsin Badgers came out of their bye week strong following their heart-wrenching loss at undefeated Ohio State. The Badgers overwhelmed the No. 19 Northwestern Wildcats with their staunch defense and big-play offense leading to a smooth 35-6 homecoming victory.
Wisconsin did not even come out with its strongest game, as it lost the turnover battle three to one to Northwestern. The Badgers were too much for the Wildcats to handle, despite the fact that Northwestern was confident coming off an impressive showing against Ohio State. This was supposed to be the year that Northwestern proved it belonged with the big boys in the Big 10 and this game was supposed to be their coming out party.
Sorry Wildcats, the Badgers are still supreme.
This game could have derailed the Badgers’ season. If Wisconsin lost it would have fallen to .500 and Gary Andersen would have been feeling the heat from the Badger faithful. Instead it is Northwestern feeling the heat as they have dropped from the AP top-25, while Wisconsin jumped back in, barely. Wisconsin is currently ranked 25th in the AP poll.
Jared Abbrederis kicked off the scoring for Wisconsin as he hauled in a 63-yard bomb from Joel Stave with 4:09 left in the first quarter giving the Badgers a 7-3 lead. Abbrederis left the game with a concussion shortly after, but the Badgers never looked back. James White scored next for the Badgers, punching the ball in from the one, followed by sensational sophomore Melvin Gordon scoring on another home run carry. Gordon galloped 71 yards for the score, something not new to him as he leads the FBS in 70-plus yard touchdown runs.
At that point, the rout was on.
“We started out slow and by the defense playing so well, it allowed us to get in our groove,” Gordon said.
A streak was also on the line for Abbrederis, White, fan-favorite Chris Borland and other seniors. Coming into the game, they were undefeated in games following bye weeks in their careers. On Saturday they pushed the streak to six consecutive wins over their four years at Wisconsin. This group of guys has been unbeatable when given more than one week to prepare for an opponent.
The game ball should be awarded to the defense, though, as Northwestern’s offense was averaging around 40 points-per-game this season. The Borland-led defense held the potent Wildcat offense to a mere six points. Borland, who seemed to be in on every tackle including one sack that held Northwestern to a field goal, said, “You can kind of feel the offense on their heels. Getting really aggressive is always a good time.”
Stave finished with 241 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Gordon ran 22 times for 172 yards and one touchdown, giving him 870 yards on the season leaving him 19 yards behind the FBS leader. White also topped the 100 yard mark and sophomore Derek Watt, brother of former Badger superstar JJ Watt, caught the first touchdown of his promising career.
The only sour note from the game, besides Stave’s interceptions, would be the sub-par kicking game that has still not been remedied.
The Wildcat’s offensive line could not handle the Badgers’ rush and that resulted in 11 Northwestern punts over the course of the game. Many people anticipated a close and hard-fought game, but the Badgers showed they are simply in a higher class than the Wildcats.
If Wisconsin can win out, which is feasible, and Ohio State remains undefeated good things could happen come December. If the Buckeyes remain undefeated and are invited to the BCS National Championship Game, the Badgers have an outside shot at being invited to a BCS game for the fourth-consecutive season.
Hey, it’s alright to dream right?