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Rapid Reaction: Northwestern 20, Wisconsin 14

Northwestern got its second Big Ten win in as many weeks as the Wildcats took down Wisconsin. Here's how it happened:

David Banks

A few plays after a long, 58-yard run by Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon on the team's first drive of the game, defensive tackle Max Chapman put pressure on Wisconsin's Tanner McEvoy, who threw an interception to safety Godwin Igwebuike.

Northwestern responded with a long drive, taking the ball down to the Wisconsin five, where Jack Mitchell knocked in a short field goal to put Northwestern up by three. Justin Jackson racked up 30 yards on that drive alone.

The two teams traded empty possessions to begin the second quarter before Siemian found Tony Jones down the sideline for a big, 35-yard gain. After Warren Long picked up a short fourth-down conversion, Northwestern was faced with yet another fourth down. After attempting to run a fake field goal, Wisconsin called a timeout. Northwestern then went back on the field with the offense but was unable to draw Wisconsin offsides and called a timeout. But Pat Fitzgerald kept the offense on the field and a Miles Shuler conversion kept the drive alive. Then Dan Vitale caught a five-yard touchdown to put Northwestern up 10-0 with fewer than four minutes left before halftime.

Melvin Gordon opened the second half in his usual manner, with a 61-yard rush. On his first carry of the second half in games this season, Gordon is averaging 38.3 yards per carry. The Heisman candidate capped off the drive with a two-yard touchdown.

Following an empty Northwestern drive, the Wildcats gave the ball back to Joel Stave, who came in for McEvoy at the end of the first half. On a third down on Wisconsin's own 11, Ifeadi Odenigbo got to Stave and hit his arm, making way for a Jimmy Hall interception.

On the very next play, Northwestern ran a reverse, on which Miles Shuler scored a touchdown. Siemian threw a nice block to spring the big play.

Following a missed 50-yard field goal by the Badgers, Northwestern drove the ball down to Wisconsin's five but the drive stalled and Mitchell hit a 22-yard field goal to put Northwestern up 20-7 early in the fourth quarter.

Down 13 with about six minutes left, Wisconsin drove the ball down to Northwestern's three. On a play-action pass, Stave rolled right and was picked off by Igwebuike in the endzone.

After a Northwester three and out, Wisconsin responded with an extremely quick, two-play, 43-yard touchdown drive the ended with a Kenzel Doe score to cut Northwestern's lead to just six with 4:16 left in the contest. On the subsequent drive, Northwestern ran the clock down to just 33 seconds. With Wisconsin desperately trying to get the ball down the field, Stave threw another interception to Igwebuike, his third of the day, to seal the victory for Northwestern.


- How ever well you may have thought Northwestern played last week against Penn State, Northwestern was far, far better against Wisconsin on Saturday. Aside from a few poor angles from Northwestern defensive backs on long Melvin Gordon runs, Northwestern made few mistakes, if any. For the most part, Siemian threw the ball well. He had a couple missed throws but was smart with his decisions.

- Justin Jackson has taken hold of Northwestern's offense. He had 33 carries for 162 yards and was consistently giving Northwestern some crucial plays. He was effective both with his vision running inside and his speed and versatility on the edge.

- Moving forward, it's clear that Northwestern's defense will be the backbone of the team and is one of the best in the nation. Despite Gordon's 259 yards, Northwestern kept Wisconsin under wraps and collected two turnovers to help Northwestern seal the victory.