Key Interceptions fuel Northwestern Upset over Wisconsin
WNUR’s Erik Bremer (@Erik_Bremer) recaps Northwestern’s second straight Big Ten victory, a home upset of Wisconsin.
EVANSTON, Ill. — The Northwestern Wildcats overcame a 259 yard effort from Melvin Gordon to upset the No. 17 Wisconsin Badgers 20-14 Saturday afternoon and claim their third consecutive win.
The Wildcats had four timely interceptions, including three from redshirt freshman Godwin Igwebuike, to fend off the vaunted Wisconsin rushing attack.
Trevor Siemian contributed 182 passing yards and a touchdown for the Wildcats, who moved to 3-2 on the season and 2-0 in Big Ten play. Saturday’s win was the first home conference win for Northwestern since 2012.
Wisconsin fell to 3-2 on the year and 0-1 in conference play, failing to score 20 points for the first time in 18 games. The Badgers have lost four consecutive games in Evanston, each loss coming as a ranked team during a time in which Northwestern was unranked.
The Wildcat offense was once again predicated on the rushing attack, with Justin Jackson taking the majority of the handoffs for 162 yards on 33 carries. Northwestern’s lone rushing touchdown came on a Miles Shuler end around, with Siemian providing a key block for the receiver as he sprinted toward the end zone 17 yards for the score.
Wisconsin relied heavily on Gordon and their running game as quarterbacks Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy combined to go 12 for 29 with only 138 passing yards. Two of Gordon’s runs were for more than 55 yards en route to becoming just the third player in Wisconsin history to have multiple 250-yard games.
Northwestern’s defense surrendered 422 total yards but saved their big plays for when it mattered most, with two of Igwebuike’s picks coming in the Northwestern end zone and the third ending Wisconsin’s hopes of a comeback late in the 4th quarter.
The Wildcats had a good day on special teams, with Jack Mitchell rebounding from a shaky performance last Saturday at Penn State to make two 22-yard field goals and two extra points. Chris Gradone downed three punts inside the Wisconsin 10-yard line to assist the stout Northwestern defense.
Northwestern heads to Minneapolis next Saturday to face the Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten) before they return home October 18 for Homecoming against Nebraska.
Odds and Ends: Northwestern students ran on the field after the victory, their first home win over a ranked opponent since 2010 … Temperatures were in the low 40s with light rain and a stiff breeze for kickoff, but the clouds parted near the end of the first half … Badger fans nearly outnumbered Wildcat fans, but several were seen heading for the gates after Igwebuike’s second interception … There were two partially empty sections in the southeast corner of the end zone reserved for students … Though there was a small tarp covering the last section of the east seating area, it was noticeably smaller than the one used during non-conference games. Look for a packed house in two weeks when Nebraska comes to town for Homecoming … Northwestern’s CatVision videoboard teased new Under Armour uniforms for the Homecoming game. The all-black uniforms appear to take inspiration from the gold Gothic typeface used on signs around campus.