At 4-5 and 2-3 in Big Ten play, it’s now-or-never time for Northwestern if it wants any chance of remaining alive for Big Ten West consideration. Can the Wildcats slay a red-and-white dragon up north and take down Wisconsin? Our staffers give their thoughts.
Iggy Dowling: Wisconsin 20, Northwestern 17
Braelon Allen should be back, and I’m not sure Ben Bryant will. Northwestern has yet to win a road game (much less in an environment like Camp Randall), and I think the three-year drought continues.
Bradley Locker: Wisconsin 27, Northwestern 16
The Badgers have had an up-and-down season in Luke Fickell’s inaugural year in Madison, but this game feels like one UW can’t afford to lose if it wants to have any chance at winning the Big Ten West. Unlike in past years, Northwestern definitely has a real shot to win here, but there are several factors that sway red for me. For one, I expect Braelon Allen and Chimere Dike to play; Allen has posted 308 rushing yards and four total touchdowns against NU in two games, while Dike feasted for 10 catches, 185 yards and three end zone trips in Ryan Field in 2022. Also, I don’t foresee Ben Bryant progressing enough to compete against his old head coach. Despite losing Nick Herbig and Keeanu Benton, this Wisconsin defense is just too stingy for Brendan Sullivan to handle. The flip-flop results come to an end.
David Gold: Northwestern 24, Wisconsin 20
The irresistible force meets the immovable object. Northwestern has traded wins and losses all season but has not won on the road in over three years. Something has to give, and I think it's the latter. NU has faced the ninth- and eighth-ranked Big Ten defenses this season, scoring 30-olus points in each matchup, so why can’t it continue to do it against the conference’s seventh-best defense? Also, with Tanner Mordecai and possibly Braelon Allen unlikely to go, the ‘Cats’ defense should be stout again. I think Ben Bryant is back under center this weekend, and he leads the ‘Cats to their fifth win of the season.
Ethan Segall: Northwestern 17, Wisconsin 14
The loss-win-loss-win alternating streak continues! But I’m picking the ‘Cats for the road upset for more than just keeping a pattern alive. There is a reason that this team has not dropped two games in a row all season — the coaching staff has displayed an excellent ability all season long to address deficiencies and and not let the team spiral. With Tanner Mordecai and Braelon Allen’s status still up in the air, and the Northwestern defense having played some of their best ball as of late, I think NU keeps this one close and pulls it off with a late defensive stand.
Miguel Muñoz: Wisconsin 24, Northwestern 10
It’s hard for any team to win in Madison — no less one that’s been struggling all year offensively and still has some holes defensively. While coach David Braun and company will put up a good fight, this Wisconsin offense is just going to wear the ‘Cats down over time. On the other side of the ball, likely having Brendan Sullivan start at quarterback means another underwhelming scoring display. Northwestern won’t look awful, but points will be hard to come by, making this game a really hard one to win.
Ascher Levin: Northwestern 21, Wisconsin 17
After a close loss against Iowa, Northwestern looks to respond against Wisconsin. The Badgers have lost two games in a row, but their quarterback, Tanner Mordecai, has a chance to return from a broken hand. The main threat for the Wildcats is Braelon Allen who averages 5.8 yards per carry. Northwestern will have to be sound in the middle if they want to be successful defensively. On the offensive side of the ball, the question is if Ben Bryant will be back. Brendan Sullivan has had a few good moments, but Bryant gives the ‘Cats a better attack through the air. Northwestern has alternated losses and wins throughout the year, and I have that trend continuing against Wisconsin.
Natalie Wells: Wisconsin 17, Northwestern 13
If Braelon Allen can go for the Badgers, he should have a fun time slashing through NU’s porous front seven. The ‘Cats have allowed 1,418 rushing yards this season, which is the second-most in the B1G. Who’s first, you may ask? None other than Wisconsin. Saturday is a prime opportunity for Cam Porter to put up better numbers on the ground — he hasn’t surpassed four yards per carry since NU’s win against Howard on Oct. 7. The ‘Cats won’t have enough firepower to keep up with a more consistent Wisconsin offense.
Patrick Winograd: Wisconsin 23, Northwestern 17
I am a very superstitious person, especially when it comes to sports, so I was very close to picking Northwestern because it would continue the trend of the ‘Cats alternating wins and losses every week of the season. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and I think Northwestern’s coincidental string of results will end this week in Madison. With Ben Bryant’s status still up in the air, I don’t think Northwestern has what it takes to win in a tough road environment. I think the Badgers will emerge victorious, although if Braelon Allen can’t go, this game will be a lot more intriguing.
Brendan Preisman: Northwestern 24, Wisconsin 17
Northwestern hasn’t yet won outside of Ryan Field this year. They also haven’t beaten Wisconsin in Camp Randall since 2015, and the Badgers have won two straight matchups in the series. While I do think this game will be tight (especially with both sides’ offenses dealing with key injuries), I don’t think Northwestern is able to end any of those streaks today. I do think, however, that it will be much closer than last year’s matchup.
7-2: Bradley Locker, Natalie Wells
6-3: Iggy Dowling, David Gold
6-2: Brendan Preisman
6-0: Noah Poser
5-4: Ascher Levin
5-3: Ethan Segall
5-0: Patrick Winograd
3-2: John Olsen, Ashleigh Provoost
2-2: Adam Beck
2-0: Sammy Krimstein
1-0: Jeremy Song, Miguel Muñoz
0-2: John Ferrara