CHICAGO -- In the preseason, Wisconsin's Windy City clash with Northern Illinois was widely billed as trap game for the Badgers. The narrative almost wrote itself- a scrappy MAC team, lead by a former head coach, might be able to upset the Badgers away from the friendly confines of Camp Randall.
For the most part, the narrative panned out for about a quarter. After Russell Wilson threw his first touchdown to Nick Toon and Kyle French missed a 50-yard field goal, the Huskies drove 67 yards in five plays to tie the score at 7.
After that it was all downhill for the Huskies.
After NIU failed to recover a surprise onside kick, the Badgers scored a touchdown on four of their next five possessions, including two more touchdowns for Wilson and Montee Ball, and one for James White. Wilson, however, stole the show from his offensive counterparts.
Wilson accounted for 384 of Wisconsin's 621 yards on the day, completing 23 of 32 passes, and threw two touchdown passes to Toon, and one to Jacob Pedersen. Wilson also made his first mistake as a Badger, throwing an interception to NIU's Zach Anderson with 9:42 left in the fourth quarter. Wilson's interception was also Wisconsin's first turnover of the year.
The Badgers' running game got off to a slow start for the second week in a row, but holes started to open after Wilson completed a few play action passes. Montee Ball rushed 20 times for 91 yards and two touchdowns, while his counterpart James White rushed eight times for 91 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, linebacker Chris Borland lead the way with 11 tackles, with two of them going for negative yardage. Marcus Cromartie filled in well for injured cornerback Devin Smith, recording eight tackles and half of a TFL. The defense didn't record many extra stats: defensive end Louis Nzegwu broke up one pass for the Badgers, after they broke up ten last week against Oregon State.
The Badgers return home to Camp Randall to play FCS South Dakota next Saturday, in their last non-conference game before opening Big Ten play against Nebraska.
Stay tuned to B5Q for more post-game news and analysis! Assistant coaches are available to the media tomorrow, so I'll hopefully have something up later tomorrow.
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