NCAA Week 10: Previewing the Northwestern-Wisconsin Match-up

November 5, 2016 • Jon Lowe • Big Ten, Front Page, NCAA, Opinion, Predictions, Preview

This is the end of the gauntlet, the grand finale, the end of the hell-ish schedule the NCAA and Big Ten decided to give the Wisconsin Badgers football team this season.

Heading into this point of the season at 6-2 and a Top 10 team in the polls also shows how much they have overcome in 2016.

I will restate this yet again, because I am so happy that I was right about this before the season: I had the Badgers going 10-2 and winning the Big Ten West.

At this point, with a really tough schedule for Nebraska, and a victory over both them and Iowa, I am right. The Badgers only have a pair of losses, and every game from this point forward (theoretically) should get easier.

Sure, a road game at Purdue in two weeks might be surprisingly challenging, but they already went on the road to beat Michigan State and Iowa, and managed to challenge Michigan.

This Northwestern team is a lot better than I thought they were after going 1-3 to start the season, including losses to Nebraska and Western Michigan. However, seeing how good both of those teams have been up to this point, it’s hard to fault Northwestern for losing those games. The third of their four losses is at Ohio State, and although they had a chance to win, nobody expected Northwestern to come out of Columbus with a W. This Northwestern team is a talented squad, and deserves respect from Wisconsin despite being unranked and at the .500 mark going into this weekend’s game.

Now, as far as the game itself is going to go, it’s hard to go against Wisconsin solely based off of the way they play defense. They still have allowed only 20 points or more one time this season, and that was against the Ohio State Buckeyes when they were still undefeated.

With how good Michigan and Nebraska have been on offense, and the caliber Iowa, Michigan State and LSU have, it’s hard to imagine Wisconsin only allowing more than 17 points once. And, they have been without inside linebacker Chris Orr all season, and are going to be without inside linebacker Jack Cichy as well. It doesn’t matter who is on the opposing offense, because until proven otherwise, the edge goes to Wisconsin when they are on defense.

As far as the offense is concerned, it is a completely different story. The Badgers have pieces on offense, but due to the inconsistency of the offensive line and the quarterback carousel, the offense of the Badgers so far has struggled mightily.

The running game has shown signs of life, not just with Corey Clement, but Dare Ogunbowale and Bradrick Shaw are also playing well. The receiving trio of Rob Wheelwright, Jazz Peavy and Troy Fumagalli isn’t awful either, and usually one out of those three has a modest game at worst.  However, it speaks volumes towards how good this defense is, since the Badger offense struggles most of the time.  The edge here goes to Northwestern.

I like Wisconsin to keep the momentum, I really do. But something about this game is fishy to me. Maybe it’s just because Northwestern is at home, and because I have been puzzled by this team all season, but everything points to a Wisconsin win on the road, and I will stand by that. Since the Badgers have no offense, it will be a low scoring affair, with the final score of Wisconsin 16, Northwestern 13.

Photo: Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

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