Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 10/9/13
Neither the Wisconsin Badgers nor the Northwestern Wildcats could knock off the almighty Ohio State Buckeyes. And now the Badgers and Wildcats clash in a battle to decide who’s really in the second echelon of Big Ten teams. Wisconsin has won its previous four versus Northwestern at Camp Randall going back to 2004 which includes a 41-9 victory in 2006 and a 70-23 triumph in 2010. Northwestern Wildcats (4-1, 0-1) Analysis: Pat Fitzgerald’s squad is in the midst of their most-hyped season to date. With wins over middling BCS programs like California and Syracuse, the Wildcats gave the Buckeyes all they could handle in a 40-30 loss at home last Saturday. Fitzgerald has emerged as a media darling despite having a mediocre 26-30 all-time record in the Big Ten. Their offense is no slouch as it thrives on efficiency. Even though they tend to roll with a two quarterback system, the Wildcats rank fourth nationally in passing completion percentage at 72.3 %. Kain Colter is the dual-threat option quarterback while Trevor Siemian comes in to make the accurate throws. Siemian ranks 11th in the nation in pass efficiency with a crisp 171.3 rating. A big reason they’ve been able to put up 39.0 points per game is due to a solid run-game which ranks 22nd in the nation at 218.4 yards per game. While the Wildcats’ offense emphasizes taking care of the ball, their defense harps on taking away the ball. They rank second in the nation with 11 interceptions. Two fumble recoveries and an interception of the Buckeyes’ Braxton Miller was a huge reason they were able to stick with Ohio State through four quarters last week. If they want to go in to Camp Randall and get a win, they’ll need a few turnovers. Wisconsin Badgers (3-2, 1-1) Analysis: The Badgers were idle last week, giving the team a chance to get healthy and make some adjustments after a 31-24 loss to the Buckeyes. With losses to Arizona State and Ohio State, the Badgers are still looking for a quality win. A win against a ranked Northwestern squad is exactly what they’re looking for right now. One of Wisconsin’s priorities is to improve on the defense and that all starts with forcing turnovers. They had their chances versus the Buckeyes and didn’t capitalize. Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda came in with great initiative to make changes and it hasn’t worked against formidable competition. The inexperienced secondary has particularly struggled with a combined 550 yards and four touchdowns (compared to only one interception) given up in bouts with the Sun Devils and Buckeyes. Offensively, Wisconsin has finally found the yang to their yin in wide receiver Jared Abbrederis. Abbrederis blew up Buckeyes NFL prospect Bradley Roby to the tune of 10 catches, 207 yards and one touchdown. The Badgers yin of course is their potent running game which ranks sixth in the nation at 300.6 yards per game. Home-run threat Melvin Gordon is reportedly healthy and will be a huge threat against a relatively soft Northwestern rush defense. Brutally Honest Prediction: Wisconsin 33 Northwestern 20 It takes a special team and a little bit of luck to beat the Badgers at home. With the way the Badgers performed against the Buckeyes (shooting themselves in the foot), expect Wisconsin to come out polished and prepared to not make mistakes. I’m not a buyer of the “Northwestern took an emotional toll against Ohio State,” theory, so I won’t play that card. Northwestern’s problem will be stopping the Badgers run-game, a unit which is spectacular at not turning the ball over. TV Coverage: ABC/ESPN2 2:30 PM CT; Sean McDonough (play-by-play), Chris Spielman (analyst) and Shannon Spake (sidelines) Betting Lines: Wisconsin favored by 10 points and the over/under set at 56.5 2013 Record straight up: 4-1 2013 Record against the spread: 2-3 2013 Record in over/under: 2-2 *no over/under for Tennessee Tech game Last week redux: Picked Badgers to win 27-24 over Ohio State (they actually lost 31-24). Hit on spread (+7.5), missed straight up and over/under (54.5). Do you think the Badgers will win by double digits over Northwestern? Let me know by commenting below. Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys sharing Fantasy Advice and pretends to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at grays@uwalumni.com. *Pictures obtained from zimbio.com and sippinonpurple.com The post Wisconsin vs. #19 Northwestern: brutally honest preview appeared first on The Sports Bank.Net.
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