Zach Pereles: Northwestern 21, Wisconsin 20
Wisconsin is a very, very good football team. Teams don’t stay in the Top 10 with two losses without being really, really good. The Badgers come at you from all angles defensively and are fantastic up front. They pound the ball with two talented running backs. The play in the trenches is going to be key, and it’s rare that Wisconsin will lose that battle. But the Northwestern of the past month has impressed me more than any other Northwestern team of any stretch of time during my nearly three seasons here. Unusually good weather for early November shines kindly on a Northwestern offense that will need to move the ball through the air. The Wildcats have been resilient on defense and very good on offense as of late, and most importantly they don’t beat themselves. That’s a good recipe for a second-straight upset of a ranked Wisconsin team at Ryan Field.
Sam Brief: Northwestern 17, Wisconsin 13
Alex Hornibrook has struggled as of late, and with Vince Biegel still not at full strength and Jack Cichy out for the season, Wisconsin’s defense isn’t the same. Carr and Thorson have been on absolute fire as of late, and I see Northwestern’s offense putting together two solid touchdown drives, which could be enough against a sputtering Wisconsin offense. Wildcats by four.
Josh Burton: Northwestern 20, Wisconsin 17
As Zach said, Wisconsin is a really good team that has some huge wins this season. But, since its shockingly poor start to the year, Northwestern has been pretty good too, and the Wildcats match up well with the Badgers. Northwestern, as evidenced by the conference losses to Nebraska and Ohio State, struggles with mobile quarterbacks, which Alex Hornibrook definitely isn’t characterized as. I think Austin Carr and Justin Jackson give the Wildcats enough offense to stave (pun intended, miss you, Joel Stave) off the Badgers’ late comeback attempt.
Tristan Jung (random number generator): Northwestern 18, Wisconsin 4
Wow, that’s an impressively bold pick for the random number generator. I’m envisioning a scenario in which Austin Carr scores three touchdowns but Jack Mitchell misses all three extra points. Meanwhile, Wisconsin only scores on two safeties thanks to two holding penalties. Somehow, Northwestern pulls out a 14-point victory anyway.
Ian McCafferty: Northwestern 24, Wisconsin 21
Wow, I thought I was going to be in the minority by picking Northwestern to beat Wisconsin, but apparently we all think its going to happen. We all think that Northwestern is better than the EIGHTH RANKED TEAM IN THE COUNTRY. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I actually think Wisconsin is the far superior football team here. No matter the outcome, it’ll be a close game, Northwestern’s performance against Ohio State last week showed us that. I think this game is going to be filled with turnovers and there will be a game-defining play late in the fourth quarter, so basically it’ll be Northwestern-Wisconsin. Northwestern’s offense has impressed me enough over the last month that I feel comfortable enough rolling with them. I wish I had a better reason for why I’m picking the Wildcats, but I really don’t. I just really think they’re going to pull off a miraculous win.
Zach Wingrove: Northwestern 28, Wisconsin 24
Is this really going to be unanimous? Against the No. 8 ranked team in the country? Wisconsin has one of the best defenses in the Big Ten — on par with Ohio State and Michigan — but we saw Northwestern put up 20 last week in Columbus and I think the Wildcats will have another touchdown in them on Saturday against the Badgers. Two of the biggest struggles for Northwestern’s defense this season have been 1) the secondary’s coverage and 2) containing mobile quarterbacks. Luckily for the Wildcats, the Badgers’ passing attack has underwhelmed for much of the season, and Alex Hornibrook and Bart Houston (if he sees the field) are not dual-threat quarterbacks by any stretch of the imagination. I think Northwestern will load the box and force Wisconsin to make plays through the air, and in the end the Wildcats’ defense will come up with a fourth quarter stop to secure a huge Big Ten West win.
Will Ragatz: Wisconsin 31, Northwestern 26
No, Zach, this is not going to be unanimous. Wisconsin is the better football team (though not by as much as the records and rankings say) and I think that will become apparent by the end of this game. I know the Badgers haven’t won at Ryan Field since 1999. I know Northwestern’s offense is rolling. Neither of those factors are going to matter. Justin Jackson will have a very difficult time getting going in this game because his offensive line, while improved, isn’t good enough to create big holes against a defense this talented. Just like last week, Jackson will be held under 100 yards and Northwestern’s offense won’t have the balance to fire on all cylinders like it did at Iowa and MSU. More importantly, I think Wisconsin’s offense actually matches up well with the Wildcats’ defense. Corey Clement and Dare Ogunbowale are a dangerous backfield combination and I don’t think Hornibrook/Houston will have too much trouble against a still-bad Northwestern secondary. Badgers in a tight one.
Caleb Friedman: Northwestern 27, Wisconsin 20
I’ve gone back and forth on this one, but I’m sticking with the ‘Cats. At the start of the season, who would’ve thought that teams would actually struggle to keep up with Northwestern’s offense? But that’s where we are right now, and although the Badger defense is great, Clayton Thorson has this offense rolling. Last week showed me that Thorson is ready to compete with the big boys in the Big Ten, and that’s exactly what Wisconsin is. Thorson will lead the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter, and the Wildcat defense will slow down the Badger running game just enough. Pat Fitzgerald has continually said that the team hasn’t yet played a full 60 minutes of good football; this may be the week it happens.
Josh Rosenblat: Wisconsin 24, Northwestern 17
This is a decidedly better Wisconsin team than the one Northwestern upset in Madison last year, especially on defense. The fourth-ranked defense in the nation, according to S&P+, should be well-equipped to stop Justin Jackson. The big matchup? Austin Carr vs. Wisconsin’s linebackers and safeties. Carr was able to run wild through Ohio State’s secondary, but Wisconsin might have something up its sleeve for the senior standout.