Wisconsin Badgers vs. Northwestern Wildcats: Final Thoughts From The Badgers’ 13-7 Loss


The Wisconsin Badgers suffered another devastating loss on Saturday against Northwestern by a score of 13-7 at Camp Randall Stadium.

READ ALSO: Big Ten Officials Dropped the Ball

After two Wisconsin touchdowns were overturned on the Badgers’ final drive, head coach Paul Chryst summed it up best in his post-game press conference.

"“I thought we won it a couple times, but we didn’t.” – Paul Chryst"

Like we have seen for much of this season, Wisconsin’s defense kept the team in the game, while offense was a disaster.

Aside from Dave Aranda’s defense playing like the best unit in the country, there was not a lot of positivity to take away from Saturday’s game. The negativities included Badgers’ offense, the referees, the NCAA and even Wisconsin’s student section.

Here are this week’s final thoughts from Senior Day at Camp Randall.

Defense Deserved Better Again

Live Feed

Wisconsin vs. Purdue Prediction, Odds, Trends and Key Players for College Football Week 4
Wisconsin vs. Purdue Prediction, Odds, Trends and Key Players for College Football Week 4 /


  • Big Ten football: 2023 Week 2 power rankingsSaturday Blitz
  • Big Ten Football: 2023 Week 1 power rankingsSaturday Blitz
  • College Football Top 25 Picks Against the Spread for Week 2Betsided
  • College Football Top 25 Picks Against the Spread for Week 1Betsided
  • Buffalo vs. Wisconsin Prediction, Odds, Trends and Key Players for College Football Week 1Betsided
  • It was another amazing defensive performance wasted by Wisconsin’s inept offense. Vince Biegel recorded a career-high 14 tackles, 1.5 for loss, including a sack. Joe Schobert made 13 tackles, including three for loss and two quarterback hurries. Starting in his third game for the injured Chris Orr, Jack Cichy finished with 11 tackles, one for loss and a pass breakup.

    For the first time this season, an opponent scored more than 10 points on Wisconsin at home, and it was incredible that Northwestern only put up 13 points. The Wildcats scored 10 points off Wisconsin turnovers, and the Wildcats’ average field position started from their own 41-yard line.

    Wisconsin’s defense came up with many crucial stops late in the game to give the offense a chance to win it, but that did not happen. Much like the Badgers’ Big Ten opener against Iowa, Wisconsin’s defense deserved better in the final home game of the season.

    An Offensive Offense

    Wisconsin turned the ball over five times with two interceptions and five fumbles, losing three of them.  The Badgers’ offensive line surrendered six sacks during the game, and Joel Stave struggled in the final home game of his career with two interceptions and a lost fumble.

    Wisconsin’s “rushing attack” finished with -26 yards. Obviously, this has a lot to do with the 50 yards that were lost from sacks, but running the football was a struggle. Corey Clement returned to the field, but he finished with just 24 rushing yards on 10 carries and a touchdown. Taiwan Deal had three carries for six yards, and Dare Ogunbowale had two yards on four attempts.

    Wide receiver Alex Erickson finished with season lows with three receptions and 27 yards and muffed a punt. The Badgers saw an emergence from wide receivers Jazz Peavy and Tanner McEvoy. Peavy had a career game with five receptions for 88 yards. McEvoy did what we expected when he moved to receiver prior to the start of the season. He had a season-high five catches for 57 yards but also lost a fumble.

    More from Football

    Who Should We Complain About?

    There were a few big plays during Saturday’s game that are still being discussed regarding whether it was the referees who got the call wrong, or the NCAA’s rule is just silly.

    Erickson returned a punt for a touchdown that would have given Wisconsin a 13-10 lead with the extra point pending, but it was called back because of Erickson’s invalid fair catch signal. He was making a signal to tell his teammates to get away from the ball, which prevented him from advancing the ball once he grabbed it.

    On Wisconsin’s final drive, Stave connected with Troy Fumagalli for what was initially called a 23-yard touchdown, but his knee was clearly down at the 1-yard line. On the next play, Stave threw a touchdown to Peavy, who took four steps, and his knee hit in bounds before briefly juggling the ball when he hit the ground. After another review, the call was overturned, stating that Peavy did not complete the process of the catch.

    The rulebook is a vague on the ruling on Erickson’s punt return as well as Peavy’s catch. Wisconsin beat reporters were discussing the call hours after the game and into the next day about the rules. It sounds like the referees were correct with the Erickson play, but Peavy’s catch is still being debated. Chryst said he has spoken with the Big Ten office a few times, but the league stands with the call. Regardless, the rules need to be more specific. The complete the process of the catch rule makes everything so confusing. It is difficult to understand how college football and NFL players, coaches, referees, fans and media members do not understand what a catch entails. The rulings are far too inconsistent and need to be reexamined so everybody finally can understand what catching a football looks like.

    The Student Section

    Madison saw its first snowstorm of the season the day before the game, and the Wisconsin student section took advantage of the remaining snow in the bleachers. It started out as a fun snowball fight among the different sections during the game, but then students began hurling snowballs at the Wisconsin cheerleaders on the sidelines, who exited to the tunnel. The cheerleaders returned for the second half behind the Badgers’ bench instead of their usual area behind the end zone.

    According to Badgers’ beat writers, students and the general admission threw snowballs at Badgers’ players coming in and out of the tunnel at halftime as well as the referees after the game. It was a bad look for Wisconsin’s fans, and it gained national attention, but there was another issue with the student section.

    As has become a routine over the past few years, the student section did not fill up until the second quarter, and many left following “Jump Around” at the end of the third quarter.

    Saturday’s game was Senior Day, a day that players are honored for their commitment to the program prior to the game. In addition to the final home game of the season, it was a top-25 matchup between two Big Ten teams and a 2:30 p.m. kickoff, so the early game time was not an excuse. Neither is the cold weather because this has been the case even in September games.

    It is disappointing to see students show up for half of the game or even not at all. At this point, it seems fair to consider a change to be made with student section tickets. Student ticket costs are heavily discounted compared to seats that are sold to the general public, which seems unfair to a nonstudent who wants to get to a game, and instead sees photos on social media of an empty student section at kickoff.

    Next: 5 Most Impactful Seniors

    Should administration consider reducing student seats by a section or two? It will be interesting to see if this is looked into during the offseason.