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Roundtable: Wisconsin defensive effort a bright spot, offense sputters in 13-7 loss to Northwestern

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Our writers look at the loss to Northwestern, and what they believe should be a catch.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Good: What went well for Wisconsin on Saturday?

Owen Riese: Wisconsin's defense is good. Like really good. That's about all that was good to watch yesterday. In familiar fashion this season, the offense sputtered for long stretches this week, but ultimately redshirt senior quarterback Joel Stave led a successful two-minute drill to get down to the one-yard line. That's where things stopped going well. This defense is unreal. I really hope Wisconsin will able to retain Dave Aranda after the season, because this unit is elite.

Kyle Vos: This defense is a treat to watch, and it put in another dominant day at the office against Northwestern. The pass defense was especially impressive, limiting the Wildcats to a paltry 60 yards on 20 attempts. Wait a minute. Haven't I said this before? Ah, yes, the Iowa roundtable. A month and a half later and things are still the same. The defense played with its back against the wall all game long and made stop after stop. I have no reservations in calling this unit one of the best in the country. It deserves to have that recognition by being on a 10-1 team that's ranked in the top 10 right now.

The Bad: What didn't go well against the Wildcats?

Owen: Once again, on offense they allowed the opposing defense to dictate the line of scrimmage. Wisconsin couldn't run, or protect; a tough spot to put your beleaguered in. Stave had his usual game, a few rough decisions, but ultimately when the chips were down put UW in a position to win. My biggest issue with the late game sequence, despite redshirt sophomore Jazz Peavy being robbed of a touchdown catch, is why wasn't junior running back Corey Clement in on the goal line? Or even true freshman Alec Ingold? At least give the defense the threat of the run.

Kyle: I'll refrain from copying my remarks about the offense that I made after the Iowa game here, but, like with the defense, those comments apply almost verbatim. The offense, in its entirety, failed on Saturday. UW backs accumulated just 32 yards on 17 carries. There was a time when I would've been disappointed if Wisconsin didn't have a longest run over 32 yards. Not only did the line fail to create running room, but it contributed heavily to Stave being sacked so many times that a negative was in front of the rushing total for the entire game.

Team MVP: Who deserves it?

Owen: Kyle already picked redshirt junior outside linebacker Vince Biegel below, so I'll pick redshirt freshman inside linebacker T.J. Edwards. It has to be a linebacker, right? Edwards was all over the place for Wisconsin, and using his athleticism to create chaos at the line of scrimmage. He's an excellent compliment to the outside linebackers, cleaning up what they disrupt. This front seven only loses senior outside lienbacker Joe Schobert going forward, so early indications for next season have to be incredibly encouraging.

Kyle: It's hard to pick just one member from the defense, but I'll go with Biegel. He was all over the place, leading the team with 14 tackles. He had a big third down sack in the second half. Most important was his huge play on third down to get the ball back with two minutes left in the game. Northwestern ran a read-option and Biegel sucked in despite being the outside contain. The quarterback took advantage and sprinted around Biegel for what seemed sure to be a game-ending first down. Biegel recovered shockingly fast and corralled the quarterback after a handful of yards, short of the first down.

The Incompletion: There are debates on whether Peavy held onto the ball. What should a catch be defined as?

Owen: My gripe with the rules is this: I don't understand why it's okay for a running back to cross the plane and then fumble, but as long as he possessed the ball as it "broke the plane" then it's a touchdown. At the same time, as receiver, like Peavy, can possess a ball IN THE ENDZONE, but if he falls and drops it, then it's not a touchdown. I'm all for completely re-writing the rules for a catch, for the simple fact that if you watch two games the same play could happen and you'll get two different calls. Ultimately, Wisconsin was jobbed out of a maybe not deserved win, but a win nonetheless.

Kyle: I'm not in the state of mind to answer this question. I'm too disgusted with football's arbitrary rules to try to add my own arbitrary spin to fit my opinion. In my mind, Peavy scored a touchdown. I can't tell you what my requirements of a catch are, but I know one when I see it. He took multiple steps with the ball and he maintained control through initial impact with the ground after those steps. What I will say is, if, by rule, that's not a catch, then the rules have gone too far. The other glaring example was redshirt senior wide receiver Alex Erickson's return touchdown that was called back. The intent of the fair catch rule is to prohibit returners from trying to deceive the coverage team. Erickson clearly did not do that, evidenced by every single Wildcat player immediately trying to tackle him. There are too many variables for me to attempt to define a catch, it's just unfortunate when officials have to decide the game.