Now on a three-game losing streak, Northwestern marches into Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday morning to take on the Wisconsin Badgers. UW is favored by 24.5 points, but the Wildcats have downed Paul Chryst’s team in two of their last three meetings. Here are our staff’s predictions for the Big Ten West showdown:
Daniel Olinger: Wisconsin 27, Northwestern 7
Just a disgusting score to lose by, as your opponent was so unworried with the thought of your team staging a comeback that they did not bother to go for two and lead by a multiple of seven. While I could definitely (read: will) be wrong about the final score in this one, I’m fairly certain of what the vibe will be — Wisconsin goes up by two touchdowns early, then lets its defense drill press the ‘Cats into submission as the result is never in doubt. NU tacks on a meaningless touchdown via some big Evan Hull play late in the third quarter, but, overall, the Badgers will run roughshod over the Wildcats in Madison this Saturday.
Ben Chasen: Wisconsin 16, Northwestern 7
With RB Chez Mellusi ruled out for the remainder of the season, the Badgers will struggle to move the ball up the field with any efficiency, but their defense will perform like the fearsome unit it is and produce a number of turnovers that will set UW up with great field position. Aside from the turnovers, NU’s offense will generally lack any major momentum plays aside from a singular big one in the first half that the ‘Cats will take to the house, causing the Camp Randall faithful some distress. Fear not, though, Badgers fans... there will be no Cardiac ‘Cats today.
Mac Stone: Wisconsin 31, Northwestern 7
Unlike Ben, I don’t think the Badgers will have much trouble moving the ball, even with Chez Mellusi out. Braelon Allen is legit and will have no trouble running straight through the Wildcats’ front seven. Northwestern’s lone score will come early — it may even be the first score of the game — and will wake Wisconsin’s defense up a bit. It’s going to be a cold and windy one in Madison, so expect the ball to remain on the ground. Regardless of that, though, Bucky rolls with ease.
Didi Jin: Northwestern 20, Wisconsin 16
The Big Ten will be the Big Ten in one of the upsets of the year. Crazier things have happened.
John Olsen: Wisconsin 34, Northwestern 3
Heading into last weekend, I felt that the Iowa game was the last chance the ‘Cats would have to win a game this season, and I still stand by that. Wisconsin is pretty much everything that Northwestern isn’t — experienced, efficient, effective and able to stop the run — and that will be on full display Saturday at Camp Randall. Expect the Badgers to control the game from the outset and grind out a couple of 6-or-7-minute, 80-yard drives resulting in six while NU struggles to pick up a first down. This game will be over early, and Northwestern’s one saving grace will be that Wisconsin’s offense isn’t as explosive as Nebraska’s, so the margin of defeat won’t be as large, even if the gulf in ability is.
Bradley Locker: Wisconsin 47, Northwestern 16
This matchup pits two teams at diametrically opposite points in their seasons against each other: the No. 18 Badgers are ascending towards a Big Ten West title, while the Wildcats are desperate to hold a lead for any point in a game. Against Minnesota, I thought the ‘Cats had a bit of a chance — it was Homecoming weekend and Gophers QB Tanner Morgan is certainly prone to making mistakes. However, none of that mattered, as UMN gashed its way through Jim O’Neil’s defense, collecting a gaudy 308 rushing yards on 5.8 yards per attempt on the way to an overpowering 41-14 victory. Wisconsin is constructed very much the way Minnesota is: run the ball and rely as little on your QB as possible ; in fact, the Badgers might be even more intimidating due to having a stifling defense led by linebackers Leo Chenal and Jack Sanborn. Not even an Evan Hull screen touchdown can save NU in this one.
Jacob Brown: Wisconsin 17, Northwestern 3
In 2019, after Northwestern went 3-9, Fitz claimed that it would never happen again. It seems that was, as the children would say, ‘cap’. This offense is really bad. The quarterback situation is worrisome for this year and the future. When you combine that with Wisco’s defense, this game will be ugly. The ‘good’ news is that the defense appears to be figuring it out and that Mertz isn’t very good, so this should be a low scoring game overall, with the Badgers finding some success with their run game while the teams trade punts.
Myles Gilbert: Wisconsin 31, Northwestern 10
I think this game will play out very similarly to when the ‘Cats traveled to the Big House in October. The Northwestern defense plays their heart out and the teams go into the locker room with one-possession of each other at halftime. Inevitably, the inability of the NU offense to sustain drives against the stingy Badger defense, and Wisconsin grinding out long, hard-fought drives on the ground will lead to this game being blown open in the second half. Northwestern covers, but the Badgers jump on, around and all over the Wildcats at Camp Randall on Saturday.
Andrew Katz: Wisconsin 24, Northwestern 7
I know what you’re all saying: Is it too bold of a prediction to say Northwestern will score in this game? Wisconsin bolsters the best defense in the country in total yards allowed. and Northwestern has averaged 12.2 points per game in its last five contests. The Badgers are the best in the country against the run — a bad sign for the ‘Cats who have leaned on Evan Hull for offensive production. I expect the ‘Cats to put up a valiant effort, but at the end of the day, they are outmatched and their losing streak will continue.
Jacob Brown: 8-1
Bradley Locker, Andrew Katz: 7-2
Mac Stone, Daniel Olinger, : 6-3
Ben Chasen, Will Karmin, John Olsen: 5-4
Gavin Dorsey: 4-2
Michael Barthelemy: 2-0
Meredith Revsine: 1-0
Eli Karp, Liam Hubbard: 2-1
Myles Gilbert, Didi Jin: 2-2
Colin Kruse, Lia Assimakopoulos: 1-2
Sarah Effress, Brian Paget, Nik Mehrotra, Isaac Diaz, Sydney Supple, Jackson Gordwin: 0-1