The Big Ten Conference season starts with a significant divisional test for the No. 10 Wisconsin Badgers.
Wisconsin (3–0) welcomes the Northwestern Wildcats (2–1) to Madison on Saturday morning inside the confines of Camp Randall Stadium.
Both teams come off a bye week before heading into conference play after convincing wins. The Badgers overwhelmed BYU 40–6 in their first road game of the season, while the Wildcats avenged their road loss to Duke with a 49–7 victory over Bowling Green.
Here are the TV/radio/streaming options for the game, as well as the Wisconsin players and positions to watch.
When and where is the game?
Wisconsin and Northwestern will kick off at 11 a.m. CT at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
How can I watch?
The game will be broadcast on ABC, with Bob Wischusen assigned to play-by-play duties, Brock Huard as the analyst, and Allison Williams reporting from the sideline.
How can I stream the game online?
Via WatchESPN.com and the ESPN mobile app (iOS/Android).
How can I listen to it on the radio?
On the Badgers Sports Network, where you’ll find the usual team of Matt Lepay, Mike Lucas, Mark Tauscher, and Patrick Herb. On satellite radio, you’ll find the broadcast on Sirius 181/XM 81. Otherwise, head to BadgerSportsNetwork.com to find it. You can also listen on iHeartRadio (iOS/Android/online) by searching “WIBA.”
Wisconsin players to watch:
T.J. Edwards, front seven vs. Northwestern’s Justin Jackson, rushing attack
The Wildcats boast a talented tandem in the backfield with running back Justin Jackson and quarterback Clayton Thorson. Jackson has rushed for 248 yards on 55 carries with four touchdowns, along with nine receptions for 87 yards through the air.
There are plenty of backs in the nation getting attention, but inside linebacker T.J. Edwards and Wisconsin’s defense know and respect Jackson. The senior running back ran for 162 yards on 33 carries in the 20–14 NU win over UW in Evanston during the 2014 season, only to follow it up with a 139-yard performance at Camp Randall in 2015.
“I think because all the talk about Saquon Barkley and guys like that,” Edwards said on Monday when asked if Jackson may seem under the radar, “but I think he’s one of the best backs in the country. I’m excited for the challenge. I think our defense is ready and we’re going to look hard to prepping hard this week.”
Defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard also praised Jackson’s ability on Wednesday. Wisconsin has only allowed 90.7 yards per game on the ground through three games. Containing the rushing attack would allow Edwards, who has recorded 14 tackles (three for loss), and the defense to make Northwestern beat them through the air.
Quarterback Alex Hornibrook, passing attack vs. Northwestern’s secondary
On the opposite side, Northwestern’s secondary is banged up. As Inside NU’s Will Ragatz noted on Thursday, the cornerback position has been hit hard by injuries as Keith Watkins II, Roderick Campbell, and Brian Bullock are all out for the year.
Wisconsin’s offense may be the most balanced in years with both the passing and rushing attacks having playmakers that defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz’s squad will have to respect. NU currently gives up 157 yards on the ground, 253.3 through the air.
If the Wildcats sell out against the run to stop the likes of Jonathan Taylor, Bradrick Shaw, and Chris James, Hornibrook and the passing game could reap the benefits. The redshirt sophomore quarterback broke a UW single-game record for completion percentage against BYU two weeks ago, completing 18 of 19 passes for 256 yards and four touchdowns.
There are at least four wide receivers and three tight ends, along with potentially two running backs and two fullbacks, who have proven they can catch passes effectively in this offense. A few, including tight ends Troy Fumagalli and Zander Neuville and wide receivers Quintez Cephus and Danny Davis, have all reeled in passes of over 28 yards so far this season.
“We just got to keep attacking and keep pushing our routes, keep going deep and just keep attacking the ball,” Davis said on Tuesday. “We can make some plays.”
Jake Kocorowski: Wisconsin 27, Northwestern 13
Owen Riese: Wisconsin 34, Northwestern 13
Ryan Mellenthin: Wisconsin 31, Northwestern 21
Neal Olson: Wisconsin 38, Northwestern 17
Kevin O’Connell: Wisconsin 30, Northwestern 17