WNUR Predictions: #20 Northwestern at #25 Wisconsin

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It’s a matchup of two 8-2 teams as the Wildcats travel to Madison to face the Badgers. Kickoff is at 2:30 central (breaking a streak of four straight 11 AM starts for the ‘Cats), and our coverage begins at 1:30 on 89.3 FM in Evanston and Chicago.

Here’s how our broadcasters think Northwestern will fare:

Ari Ross (@aross50): Wisconsin 20, Northwestern 13

Northwestern always has trouble in Camp Randall, and and against the sixth-ranked defense in the country per S&P+, that doesn’t look like it’ll change. If Corey Clement plays, Northwestern will need to bottle him up on offense and force Wisconsin to be one dimensional if they want to have a chance. If Clement doesn’t play, Northwestern could get its first win in Camp Randall since 2000. Clement’s health won’t matter if Northwestern struggles to find offense after a lackluster performance against Purdue.

Player to Watch: Austin Carr, WR, Northwestern. Whether Clement plays or not, Northwestern’s going to have to find some offense somewhere, and Carr’s been the ‘Cats’ most reliable receiver. If he can make a few plays, the ‘Cats’ offense could get just enough for a win.

Jason Dorow (@jasondorow): Wisconsin 23, Northwestern 20

Badger football isn’t what it used to be. Wisconsin only beat the lowly Maryland Terrapins by one score last week, and Corey Clement is doubtful for this weekend. The Wildcats’ defense is going to give UW some trouble in Camp Randall, but they won’t quite pull out the W.

Player to Watch: Jelani Roberts, WR, Northwestern. Can the freshman speedster give the NU offense the jolt it needs?

Austin Miller: Wisconsin 49, Northwestern 0

Camp Randall Stadium is a house of horrors for Northwestern football. Northwestern’s last three trips have ended in 35-6, 70-23, and 41-9 defeats. Those scores are… Well, it not good. I can’t see Saturday being any different. The Badgers will run all over the ‘Cats, and for the second time this season, Northwestern will get shut out on the road.

Player to Watch: Justin Jackson, RB Northwestern.If the ‘Cats are going to have any hope in this game, they’ll need to establish the ground game, and that’s going to start with Justin Jackson. If Jackson can get going, the ‘Cats can give their defense a breather, win the time of possession battle, and maybe have a shot in this one. If he can’t, it could be a long day for the defense. 

Tim Balk (@timbalk): Northwestern 13, Wisconsin 10


I’m looking for Sky Team to terrorize a slumping Joel Stave on a snowy Saturday in Madison, and NU to keep the ball on the ground in a narrow victory. 

Player to watch: Solomon Vault, RB, Northwestern: In what should be a defensive slugfest, a jolt or two from NU’s best playmaker might be needed.  

Tim Hackett (@HacksawTim): Wisconsin 24, Northwestern 13 

The Badgers are on a five-game win streak, stopping anything and everything on defense. The offense hasn’t been perfect, but with a defense that is allowing 12.3 points per game, you can afford some offensive inconsistencies. We know Northwestern’s defense is the better half of the team, but can the Wildcats put together a solid offensive game against a team that allows 97 rushing yards per game?

Player to watch: Jack Cichy, Linebacker, Wisconsin.The redshirt sophomore had a career game in Wisconsin’s win over Maryland two weeks ago, recording ten tackles (three for loss) and two sacks. He’s sixth on the team in tackles, and he’s proven to be an important second-tier player for this defense. Let’s see if he has another good game against an inconsistent Northwestern offensive line that will surely have to pass protect for a good portion of this game.

Ben Goren (@BenG412): Wisconsin 14, Northwestern 13
Northwestern’s red zone offense will again leave points on the board, and this time it will matter. Wisconsin has just enough talent to win the day.

Player to Watch: CJ Robbins/Greg Kuhar/Jordan Thompson/Tyler Lancaster, Northwestern. So basically the defensive tackles.  They need to hold up against a Wisconsin offensive line that is in the top 20 in keeping teams from making TFLs.

Ari Levin: Northwestern 24, Wisconsin 23

Northwestern’s not going to win this game, but I can’t pick against them.  Wisconsin is very good (their only losses have been against Alabama and Iowa) but they also don’t have any wins better than at Nebraska.  Still, it’s going to be very hard for Northwestern to win on the road.

Player to Watch: Dare Ogunbowale, Taiwan Deal, Wisconsin RBs. The Badgers have been very successful in recent years with a strong running game featuring Melvin Gordon and Montee Ball.  They haven’t been as strong on the ground this year, and if Wisconsin can’t get a ground attack going against Northwestern, they may find themselves struggling to keep up on offense.

Zach Pereles (@zach_pereles): Wisconsin 17, Northwestern 13

The Wildcats just don’t have the offensive firepower, and Wisconsin’s playing at home. The defense will keep it close and force some turnovers, but the Wildcats will fail to cash in with touchdowns, leaving them four points short.

Player to Watch: Jackson. He’s finally gotten back on track with back-to-back 100+ yard games, but here comes a very good Wisconsin defense. Can he do it again? If he can, the ‘Cats have a great chance to win this game.

Sam Brief (@sambrief): Wisconsin 17, Northwestern 10

Giving up just 12.3 points per game, Wisconsin has the best scoring defense in the country, so expect this one to be a slugfest. It’s huge that Corey Clement is likely out with a groin injury, but junior RB Dare Ogunbowale has shown flashes of greatness and can spell trouble for Northwestern’s defense. Throw in a raucous Camp Randall crowd and I have Wisconsin by a touchdown.

Player to watch: Robbins and Lancaster. They’ll be instrumental in stunting the Badgers’ uphill running game. 

Michael Stern (@michaeljstern23): Wisconsin 24, Northwestern 10

It’ll be a battle of top-20 defenses as the third-ranked Badger defense hosts the 18th-ranked Wildcat front. Northwestern relies on its defensive backs to stop the run, so look for the Badgers (112 passing plays of at least 10 yards-tied for third in the Big Ten) to take some deep shots on play-action and get the victory.

Player to watch: Joe Schobert, LB, Wisconsin. Schobert is one of the best defenders in the nation. He’s tied with Anthony Walker for second in the Big Ten with 15.5 tackles for loss. If anybody can slow down Justin Jackson, it’s him.

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