Wisconsin vs. Northwestern prediction and game preview. The Badgers head to Evanston to face a determined Wildcats team Saturday.
Wisconsin vs. Northwestern Game Preview
When: Saturday, Nov. 5 – Noon ET
Where: Ryan Field, Evanston, Ill.
TV Broadcast: ABC
Wisconsin has faced five top-10 teams and come out of those matchups with a 3-2 record. Not too shabby. While not of the same caliber, this week’s road contest against an unranked foe can’t be overlooked after Northwestern’s performance in Columbus last week.
The Badgers beat then-No. 7 Nebraska, 23-17, in overtime Saturday night in Madison, handing the Cornhuskers their first loss and earning the head-to-head edge in a potential tiebreaker scenario in the Big Ten West race. Wisconsin can pick up another advantage this week, as the Wildcats also enter this matchup 3-2 in the conference.
What To Know About Wisconsin
The Badgers might be the best two-loss team in the country, and another Nebraska loss would put them in the driver’s seat for an appearance in the Big Ten championship game for a potential rematch with either Michigan or Ohio State, both of which beat them by seven points. The defense impressed again last week, holding the Huskers to 305 total yards and forcing two turnovers.
As coach Paul Chryst promised, both Bart Houston and Alex Hornibrook saw time at quarterback. They both threw an interception, though, and Wisconsin needs them to be more consistent despite the shuffling throughout the game. Running back Corey Clement said he hopes Chryst will “solidify” the quarterback situation, hinting he’d like to see one or the other play through the whole game.
What To Know About Northwestern
Northwestern isn’t going to be intimidated facing another top-10 team. The Wildcats entered as 26-point underdogs against Ohio State last week and nearly pulled off the upset in a 24-20 defeat, snapping their three-game winning streak. Austin Carr had another big day with eight catches for 158 yards. The former walk-on leads the Big Ten in receptions (58), yards per game (109.8) and touchdown catches (nine).
The Wildcats will have to make sure their run defense is better this week, though. They gave up 208 yards on the ground to the Buckeyes after not allowing more than 84 in any of their previous three games. Northwestern likely will get a heavy dose of Clement this week.
Offense: Even – It’s difficult to think this would be a coin flip considering how poorly Northwestern started the season offensively.
Defense: Wisconsin – The Badgers rank third in the conference in total defense. T.J. Watt ranks second in the Big Ten with seven sacks, one behind Northwestern’s Ifeadi Odenigbo.
Special Teams: Northwestern – Solomon Vault is one of three players in the conference to return a kick for a touchdown.
Coaching: Even – Paul Chryst vs. Pat Fitzgerald should be a solid battle of offense vs. defense.
Intangibles: Northwestern – Justin Jackson ran for 139 yards and a touchdown, helping the Wildcats beat the Badgers, 13-7, last year in a game where the teams combined for 412 total yards.
Matchup To Watch
Jackson vs. Wisconsin’s run defense
Jackson torched the Badgers last year, but this season’s Wisconsin defense is allowing the fewest rushing yards per game in the conference. If the Wildcats can get Jackson to break a couple runs, they could be in line to pull off the upset.
Spread: Wisconsin -7
Wisconsin vs. Northwestern Prediction
Get ready for a slog. It’ll turn into a Clement vs. Jackson battle that Clement eventually wins, as Wisconsin escapes with yet another close victory.
Wisconsin vs. Northwestern final score prediction: Wisconsin 20, Northwestern 14