WNUR Predictions: Northwestern vs. Wisconsin

Wisconsin Badgers (3-1, 0-0 Big Ten) at Northwestern Wildcats (2-2, 1-0 Big Ten).

Last Season: Wisconsin defeated NU, 35-6, in Madison.

Time: Kickoff is at 2:30 central on ESPN2, but you’ll be listening to our broadcast on 89.3 FM or online.

Last season, the Badgers routed Northwestern in Madison. How will Trevor Siemian and company fare this season? Photo credit: Andy Manis, AP

Last season, the Badgers routed Northwestern in Madison. How will Trevor Siemian and company fare this season? Photo credit: Andy Manis, AP

Ben Goren and Jeff Eisenband correctly picked the Wildcats to pull the upset in Happy Valley last weekend, while the rest of our staffers lost hope in the Wildcats. Who do our staffers think will win Saturday’s Yom Kippur showdown against Wisconsin?

Ryan Fish (@RyanMFish) (1-2): Wisconsin 31, Northwestern 24. It’s unrealistic to think that the defense can come up with such a dominating performance two games in a row, but I think they can make this game very interesting if they can somehow contain Melvin Gordon. But that’s a big “if.”

Player to watch: Collin Ellis. He sat out last week with a concussion, and his replacement (Anthony Walker) had a pretty good game. How will he look if he returns to the field this week?

Jason Dorow (@jasondorow) (1-3): Wisconsin 24, Northwestern 17. Melvin Gordon turns out to be just too much for the ‘Cats.

Player to watch: Godwin Igwebuike. He will be filling in for Ibraheim Campbell at safety, and Fitz said NU will need a lot of tackles from the position this week.

Max Gelman (0-0): Wisconsin 27, Northwestern 16. The Wildcats did an excellent job of stopping the run against Penn State (50 yards on 25 carries) but they will need to elevate their game to a whole new level against the country’s fourth best rushing offense this Saturday. Time of possession will be key in slowing down the Badgers’ offense.

Player to watch: Trevor Siemian, QB. Northwestern needs to win the turnover battle in order to have a chance to beat Wisconsin (Wildcats have scored 33 points off turnovers so far this season). Averaging an interception per game, Siemian will have to be extra careful in protecting the football on gameday.

Ian McCafferty (@Itmccaf52) (0-0): Wisconsin 31, Northwestern 17. While Northwestern does have momentum coming off a win at Penn State, #17 Wisconsin will provide a much more of a challenge. NU can keep it close but Melvin Gordon and the Badgers rushing attack will ultimately prove to be too much.

Player to Watch: Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern. Jackson is the Wildcats’ leading rusher this season, but only had 50 yards last week against Penn State. Northwestern will need a big game from the freshman if they want to pull off the upset.

Tralon Williams (@itsyaboytray) (1-2): Wisconsin 31 – Northwestern 20. Northwestern’s rush defense has been good. Melvin Gordon and Wisconsin’s running game is great. The badgers constantly turn out NFL offensive lineman and they will outsze NU. Speaking of the Cats, they need a lot more out of Trevor Siemien, I want him to take over in the air and NU needs that for balance sake in this one. At the end, it will just be too much Gordon.

Player to watch: Nick VanHoose. Wisconsin has a weak passing game so the #1 corner will need to make big plays in limited opportunities.  Turnovers will win this game.

Jeff Eisenband (@jeffeisenband) (1-0): Northwestern 31, Wisconsin 30. Wisconsin lost to a mediocre LSU team (that lost at home to Mississippi State) and had hiccups with a 2-3 South Florida team. Northwestern is the first test. A confident ‘Cats team takes advantage of a Badgers squad in flux (Who is Tanner McEnvoy anyway?), containing Melvin Gordon enough to get the edge.

Player to watch: Godwin Igwebuike

Josh Burton (@josh_burton1) (0-0): Wisconsin 31, Northwestern 17. Northwestern looked like a much-improved team in the Penn State game, but Wisconsin is a totally different animal. Maybe the win got Trevor Siemian back on track, but that probably won’t be enough to take down the #17 team in the country.

Player to watch: Nick VanHoose. NU’s top cornerback needs to take advantage of Wisconsin’s inexperienced and interception-prone quarterback, Tanner McAvoy, by forcing a turnover at some point in the game. NU needs to make big plays to win this game.

Ben Goren (@BenG412) (2-1): Northwestern 24, Wisconsin 23. Last week, Jeff and I went with the unforeseen upset, and it paid dividends.  So you know what?  LET’S DO IT AGAIN.  NU wins 24-23 and NU students, since they know nothing about the etiquette of the situation, rush the field.

Player to Watch: Collin Ellis.  Ellis is cleared to play, but where he plays remains to be seen. Anthony Walker should’ve earned some more PT and Ellis is an outside backer by trade, so his performance, if not the most game changing, will be the most interesting.

Zach Pereles (@zach_pereles) (0-1): Wisconsin 30, Northwestern 20. Wisconsin, as every college football fan knows, runs the ball a ton, and they run it well: over 343(!!!) yards per game on the ground. While NU’s impressive win at Penn State might have people thinking they’ll pull off another upset, Wisconsin runs the ball much better than the Nittany Lions do. Can the Wildcat defensive line hold their own?

Players to watch: NU running backs. The Wildcats employ a “running back by committee” system, and they will need their guys to be running hard and well on all plays. Justin Jackson, Warren Long, and Treyvon Green will have to produce consistent positive yardage so the Cats can keep the high-powered Wisconsin offense off the field as much as possible.

Jacob Murphey (@jacobmurphey22) (1-1): Wisconsin 27, Northwestern 17. The Wildcats were able to contain a prolific passing offense last week, but how will the defense get ready for one of the better rushing teams in the country? I think the ‘Cats will come out strong behind a re-energized Ryan Field crowd and limit the badgers in the first half. I see a different story in the second half.

Player to Watch: LB Anthony Walker- If he can put together an encore performance this week, the Northwestern defense might just be able to hold off the Badgers running attack and force them to throw it down the field.

Ari Ross (@aross50) (1-3): Wisconsin 27, Northwestern 20. With a performance similar to the way they played against Penn State, Northwestern should have a real chance to win their Big Ten home opener. If their defense can slow down Wisconsin’s two heading rushing attack, Trevor Siemian and co. will have a chance against an inexperienced defense.

Player to Watch: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin. The entire outcome of this game hinges on the matchup between the Northwestern defense and Gordon. If the ‘Cats defense can slow Gordon down, it’ll give Northwestern a chance to win this game. If not, it might not be pretty – see last years Wisconsin game.

Cameron Songer (@CameronSonger) (1-0): Wisconsin 17, Northwestern 10. The ‘Cats will continue with some of the progress from their recent trip to Happy Valley, but the Badgers are a much better team than the Nittany Lions. Both sides have some glaring flaws on offense, so this could be a defensive struggle. Even if Northwestern loads up the box, I still see Wisconsin having some success pounding away on the ground.

Player to watch: Greg Kuhar. Northwestern’s defensive line, especially the DTs, need to make some plays on early downs to keep the Badgers out of short yardage situations.

Michael Stern (@michaeljstern23) (1-3): Wisconsin 28, Northwestern 17. Northwestern was awesome last weekend, and Penn State was awful. I expect the Wildcats to play a little worse than last week, missing some opportunities in the red zone against the Badgers.

Player to watch: Anthony Walker. How much playing time will the dynamic Walker get a weekend after his game-sealing pick-six? When he gets in, the linebacker needs to cover the Wisconsin tight ends, a favorite target of any Badger quarterback.

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