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Wisconsin vs. Northwestern: Watch out for Wildcats WR Austin Carr

Carr has the look and feel of a Badger.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Ohio State Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

This is the ninth game for the no. 8 Wisconsin Badgers. By now, you know the whos, whats, whys and hows of the 2016 Badgers – the defense is (very) good, the offense likes to run the ball and the special teams have been a wild ride. What about on the other side of things, the Northwestern Wildcats? While splitting your time between fall-cleaning and watching as the Badgers raise your blood pressure to unsafe levels, you probably haven’t had much time to tune-in to Wildcat football. There will be plenty of coverage from B5Q on this matchup this week, but who is one player that could make a difference? Look no further than…

Austin Carr, Northwestern wide receiver

Austin Carr 2016 Stats
Total B1G Rank NCAA Rank
Receptions 58 1st* 15th
Yards 878 1st* 14th
Rec TD's 9 1st* t-10th
*and 2nd place really isnt close

Once glance at those statistics and several assumptions are probably made by Badgers fans:

1. “I bet all these guys do is throw the ball; these stats are inflated.”

This one isn’t totally unwarranted, to a point – the Wildcats rank third in the Big Ten in pass attempts per game at just over 36. However, they rank in the middle of the conference in rushing attempts per game and feature running back Justin Jackson, who is 132 yards from a 1,000 yard season. This is just a productive offense with a very good go-to receiver.

2. “Yeah, but who have they played?”

You don’t need to look very far to disprove this one. The Wildcats have faced 3 teams currently ranked in the top-25 of the college football playoff rankings: #23 Western Michigan, #10 Nebraska and #3 Ohio State. How did Carr perform? He averaged seven catches and 114 yards, though Northwestern dropped all three games. If you remove his numbers against Western Michigan, those numbers bump to 8 catches and 133.5 yards per game and I don’t think I need to sell Badgers fans on the strength of the Huskers and Buckeyes defenses.

3. “Probably another 6’3” stud, but no worries; we’ve shut those types down all season.”

This is a where it’s easy to fall in love with Carr. Why? This guy is a Badger in Wildcat clothing. Standing at 6’1” and 200 pounds, Carr is a 5th year senior who came to Evanston as a walk-on. He did not see action until his redshirt sophomore season, when he appeared in every game and earned a scholarship. To top it all off, he is an academic all-Big Ten honoree. Sounds like the prototypical bio of the role that has help Wisconsin launch into relevancy on the national-stage since the 90’s, no? Perhaps this is hammered home by a game (or a book):

Let’s play (say it with me) “GUESS. THAT. BADGER!” We’ll take a look at Carr and compare him to bachelor #1, our Mystery Badger (ooohhhhh, ahhhhhh). After looking on in awe at the comparison between the two, go ahead and try to guess that Badger:

Austin Carr
Height: 6'1" Weight 200
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
Receptions N/A 0 7 16 58
Yards N/A 0 100 302 878
Rec TD's N/A 0 0 2 9
Notes Redshirt walk-on DNP Played in all 12 games 2nd on team in yards Leads team and B1G
Mystery Badger
Height 6'0 Weight 197
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4
Receptions N/A 9 55 77
Yards N/A 127 772 978
Rec TD's N/A 0 3 3
Notes Redshirt walk-on Played in all 13 games Led team in catches & yds Led team in catches & yds

And that Badger is…

...

...

Alex Erickson. Those are eerie similarities between the two wideouts, right down the to the academic honors and the knack for getting himself open. Thanks for playing.

Given Wisconsin’s ability to stop the run thus far in the season, it’s tough to see a scenario in which Northwestern wins without a good day from Austin Carr and the passing game. He’s proven time and time again (against very good competition) that he’s a very talented receiver that Sojourn Shelton, Leo Musso and their friends in the Badgers’ secondary will need to keep tabs on.