Wisconsin Badgers vs. Northwestern Wildcats: 5 Things to Know

Da-news-now

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The wild wild West division takes center stage on Saturday afternoon in the Big Ten. That’s because two of the four teams at the top of the division meet in Evanston. It’s a battle without a trophy, but one that has helped to decide the fate of these two teams basically since they joined forces in the Big Ten West division. So, as we head in to Saturday’s matchup what are the...

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TW

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Anytime you play Northwestern you have to be ready for Fitzgerald's game plan. You know it's going to be different, and you know they're going to be prepared to do everything they can to force you to play the game using your least comfortable personnel packages. That said, expect them to turn the heat up on Taylor on first and second down, then use blitz packages to draw penalties and disrupt Hornibrook enough to force him out of the pocket.

One thing teams learned is that "if" they can push the center of our O line back Hornibrook will expose himself by leaving the pocket. If he can't step up, he tends to get happy feet.

When we're on defense, watch them use the middle of the field, short and mid depth to pull our defenders down, then slip in behind them for longer passes.

The Badgers can beat them but they need to play well. Badgers 31 Wildcats 20
 

57packer

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I think the Badgers win, but it will be close. NW is stout up front on defense so the run game will be limited. Horni will need to make some throws and the defense will need to keep a very mediocre NW offense bottled up. No big plays. They don't run real well, so there will likely be plenty of times where NW will be in definite passing situations. Hopefully the secondary can get enough 3rd down stops.
 
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The offense has under performed all year, and the passing game for longer than that. They lost Cephus and Zander but have largely remained injury free. They have a QB playing in his 3rd year in this system, 3 All-Americans and 5 returning starters on the OL, a Heisman candidate and the nation's leading rusher, 3 solid returning WRs, an emerging star at TE in Ferguson and nice, solid role players in Deal, Ingold and Groshek. Somehow, that group was 7th in the Big Ten in total offense even before today's dreadful offensive display with Coan. It's like Chryst is the last person in Wisconsin to understand he can't rely on his defense the way he could the last few years. They gave up 31 points to Northwestern and the reasonable consensus is that the defense didn't play that poorly. That's a pretty good indication of how badly Chryst's offense hangs the defense out to dry. They did it last year, too. The defense was just much better at bailing the offense out. I have no idea how that doesn't warrant some very legitimate questions, and I'm having a hard time shrugging my shoulders and saying "Oh well, they always play shitty games at Northwestern."

The meaningless FG attempt, the punting, the strange personnel decisions, the adherence to tendency and general lack of urgency we've seen in many games this season are, to me, emblematic of a coach who is playing not to lose. You can trust your players to make plays and risk mistakes, or you can slowly crash and burn while playing scared and end up making a ton of mistakes anyway. I was as frustrated as anyone by Taylor's fumbles. What are you going to do, sit him down to teach him a lesson or make sure he doesn't make any more mistakes? You're down 21 in a huge division game and he's your best player. Get him on the field and stop monkeying around with the ridiculous shuffling of RBs every series. That's not at all why we lost today but it's just another fetal position decision that doesn't help you win.
 
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