Wisconsin Football fell to Northwestern Saturday afternoon for its third loss of the season.
What. A. Disaster.
In one of the ugliest showings we have seen from Wisconsin in recent years, the Badgers fell to Northwestern in embarrassing fashion, with the final score of 31-17 not at all indicative of just how awful their performance was. The loss snaps Wisconsin’s 16-game winning streak against Big Ten West opponents and delivers a massive blow to its chances of winning the West and appearing in the Big Ten Championship.
The big story prior to the game was sophomore quarterback Jack Coan making his first career start with Alex Hornibrook out with a concussion. His final line of 20-31 passing for 158 yards and a touchdown appears respectable, but nonetheless, this was a performance he will want to put behind him. There were several occasions where Coan missed open targets in situations where the offense needed to keep the chains moving or threw passes that probably should have been picked off, and he also coughed up a fumble on Wisconsin’s own 13-yard line that set the Wildcats up for a touchdown that blew the game wide open at 31-10.
That being said, Coan got little help from Jonathan Taylor, and when the Badgers’ star ball-carrier struggles this badly to get going on the ground, Wisconsin’s chances of victory plummet. Not only did Taylor rush for just 38 yards on only 10 carries, but he also contributed an additional two fumbles that Northwestern recovered, though one of those was largely the fault of Coan on a bad handoff. The Wildcats scored off both turnovers.
Indeed, Northwestern scored all of its points following either a Wisconsin turnover or a fourth down penalty that kept the ball in the Wildcats’ possession when the Badgers desperately needed to get their offense back on the field, such as Jack Sanborn’s roughing the kicker penalty on a punt that allowed the Wildcats to continue marching down the field despite another great stop by the defense.
The defense overall put forward a valiant effort despite playing without three usual starters, picking off Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson three times and holding the Wildcats’ formidable passing attack to just 162 yards. The unit also put up two huge fourth down stops in the red zone, otherwise the final score would have been even more lopsided. However, with how poorly the offense was playing, the defense couldn’t be expected to keep Wisconsin in this game by itself.
Ryan Field continues to be the stuff of nightmares for Wisconsin, as the Badgers have now been defeated in five of the last six times they have faced Northwestern at Ryan Field.
Wisconsin will get a chance to take its frustrations out on Rutgers next Saturday.
All stats courtesy of ESPN.com