After a dominating 49-11 win at Ann Arbor it’s easy to sit back on your heels as a fan, but for the Badgers coaching staff and head coach Paul Chryst the page has been turned onto Northwestern in a huge Big Ten West clash. Both teams come into the game undefeated and playing well, and the winner of the contest will be in the drivers seat for the Big Ten West division.
In all honesty, it’s win or go home for Wisconsin likely the rest of the way, but this is a big game much like the rest of them so of course, coach Chryst is thankful for the opportunity.
"Looking forward to a good week of preparation. Opportunity to play against a really good Northwestern team." - Coach Chryst, hitting the cliches early— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) November 16, 2020
The Wildcats are a very good team and come into the game 4-0 and playing much better on both sides of the football. Peyton Ramsey and new offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian have brought life to an offense that was abysmal a year ago, ranking No. 124 in total offense. Coach Chryst touched on what he saw as the improvements from 2019 to 2020 for the Wildcats.
"I think they're playing well right now... I think they're running really well. Offensively they're playing really good football." - Coach Chryst, discussing Northwestern's improvements across the board— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) November 16, 2020
Outside of the contest itself, player availability will be a topic of conversation all week for the Badgers heading into Saturday. At Michigan, the Badgers we’re without ten players including multiple starters in the likes of Garrett Groshek, Josh Seltzner and Rachad Wildgoose. When asked about who might be back for the contest coach Chryst noted they’ve got a group that will have a chance to come back, but the specifics we’re not given at this time.
Similar to last week, I cant imagine you’ll get much more of an answer than that as the week progresses. You’ll know who’s in and who’s out around 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon when Badger sources start firing away.
"There's a group that will have a chance to be able to come back... hopefully it's a good week for them, it would be a good week from us as a program." - Chryst, discussing the possibility of who could be back for Saturday's contest at Northwestern— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) November 16, 2020
After a strong performance in the run game last Saturday coach Chryst touched on Northwestern, and what he expects this time around after struggling against the Wildcats in recent years. He noted the strengths of Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald, and talked about what they’ll try and do to improve on their mark against the Wildcats in 2020.
The Badgers have averaged just 136 yards per game on the ground against Northwestern the past three seasons.
"You do whatever works. It has to fit against the opponent. There's a reason why we've struggled... that's the fun part of this game, it's a challenge." - Chryst discussing the struggles of the run game in years past against Northwestern— Bucky’s 5th Quarter (@B5Q) November 16, 2020
Overall, it was a lot of cliches from Chryst but what more is there really to say? These are two Big Ten West teams that like to run the football and play good defense. Each head coach has been with their program for decades or more whether it be as an assistant or head man in charge. Paul Chryst knows what you’re going to get Northwestern, and Pat Fitzgerald knows what he’s going to get against Wisconsin. Now we just have to wait and see them battle it out on Saturday afternoon in a huge contest in sleepy Evanston.