Despite Northern Illinois losing at Kansas last week, Saturday's game against the Huskies remains the Badgers toughest non-conference test this season.
For one, it's the Badgers first game away from Camp Randall so a slow start is not out of the question. Considering Northern Illinois has an offense that is very capable of scoring against any team in the country, if the Badgers get behind early, this could end up being a tough game.
To get a better idea of what Wisconsin is facing at Soldier Field Saturday, we got a hold of Mike Breese from Red And Black Attack, SBNation's NIU blog:
B5Q: I’ve really been giving NIU a lot of respect this season and have been saying for a while that this is going to be a tough game for the Badgers, but then the Huskies went a lost to a a pretty bad Kansas team. How disappointing of a loss was that for you guys? Or did Kansas just look better than expected?
RABA: It was really disappointing because of how close we were to winning the game. The defense just fell apart with missed assignments and missed tackles all over the place. We were also without our starting CB Rashaan Melvin who will be returning for the game on Saturday. Hopefully that will help a little bit on the defensive side of things.
B5Q: Obviously the big storyline in this game is Dave Doeren facing his old team and the Badgers facing their old defensive coordinator. How do you think that familiarity affects this game? And how does the NIU defense – which looked pretty bad against Kansas – expect to slow down Wisconsin’s offense?
RABA: I keep getting asked this and while I hope for the best, there's only so much you can do on defense when you're going up against Wisconsin's O-Line and who knows what Russell Wilson can do to you. I'm just not optimistic about this defense doing much of anything after the Kansas game. Just too much inexperience, but hopefully they'll build enough to dominate in-conference.
B5Q: We pretty much know about QB Chandler Harnish, who nearly led the Huskies to a fourth quarter comeback at Camp Randall two years ago, but who else on NIU makes this offense go?
RABA: Everybody. I'm not using hyperbole here, either. The offensive line has lived up to their billing as one of the most experienced and talented lines in the country giving Chandler time to throw the ball. And when he does there's a never-ending bucket of skill players to catch the ball from him. Six different players have receiving touchdowns so far this year. All he needs is just a little bit of space and we've been spreading out offenses 4 and 5-wide and very rarely have people been able to stop this Huskie offense. We can also run the ball pretty effectively, but the pass was working just fine against KU so we just went with that + Harnish rushes for the most part.
B5Q: Ticket sales for this game at Soldier Field have been very slow, which led me to figure out why. Wisconsin fans are complaining about how expensive tickets are and they aren’t buying them. Would you rather see a full house at Soldier Field Saturday (which would increase NIU’s profits) or would you rather see a half-empty stadium that won’t be as pro-Wisconsin?
RABA: I'd rather see a full-house. The tickets are just a tad bit expensive and everybody's broke these days. It's unfortunate. I'm all about maximizing profit, I just think that fans are missing out on an awesome opportunity to see their team in a unique venue. But, alas nobody has any money and the Badgers schedule is really frontloaded with homegames. It's just not worth it for some people to pay extra for Soldier Field when they can see the Badgers in Madison beat on some opponent for much cheaper.
B5Q: Finally, your prediction for Saturday...
RABA: A shootout at first, but then the Badgers grind it out at the end. Wisconsin 38, Huskies 28.