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Northwestern, You’re On...STATWATCH PLAID

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We’re having a Ryan Field day with this one. Nobody’s happy.

California v Northwestern

CONTENT WARNING: This article contains frank and open discussions of Wisconsin losses that some mature readers may find distressing. Because they remember them.

Northwestern’s Ryan Field is one of the worst road environments in the Big 10. The small alumni base combined with access via the Red Line (Editor’s note: then the Purple Line) to downtown Chicago means fans from opposing schools regularly fill the stands. There’s no pregame bar scene in Evanston. The stadium is close enough to feel the wind effects from Lake Michigan, but far enough away that you don’t actually get the view of the lake.

Most relevantly? It feels like the Badgers always lose there. Wisconsin’s play at Northwestern 15 times since 1980, and is just 6-9 there. That .600 losing percentage is the starkest outlier in Wisconsin road losing percentage compared to each conference opponent’s all-time win percentage.

Ryan Field’s Haunted

Opponent Program Win % Road Wins Road Losses Wisconsin Losing % Difference
Opponent Program Win % Road Wins Road Losses Wisconsin Losing % Difference
Illinois 0.504 9 10 0.526 -0.022
Indiana 0.423 9 5 0.357 0.066
Iowa 0.54 8 10 0.556 -0.016
Michigan 0.728 2 12 0.857 -0.129
Michigan State 0.599 5 11 0.688 -0.089
Minnesota 0.57 14 6 0.3 0.27
Northwestern 0.452 6 9 0.6 -0.148
Ohio State 0.73 5 12 0.706 0.024
Purdue 0.423 11 5 0.313 0.11

What’s depressing is that for much of that time frame, Wisconsin’s been one of the best teams in the Big 10 and Northwestern hasn’t. On 10 of those 16 trips, Wisconsin finished the season with at least two more wins than Northwestern. Only six of those win totals included “at Northwestern.”

Here’s a list of every time the Badgers finished a season with two more wins than one of the old-school Big 10 rivals they lost to on the road.

There Is Pain Here, And Only Pain

Season Opponent WiscWins OppWins Wisc-Opp Wins
Season Opponent WiscWins OppWins Wisc-Opp Wins
1981 Michigan State 7 5 2
1994 Michigan State 7 5 2
1996 Michigan State 8 6 2
1992 Northwestern 5 3 2
2009 Northwestern 10 8 2
2005 Northwestern 10 7 3
1994 Purdue 7 4 3
2019 Illinois 10 6 4
2008 Michigan 7 3 4
2004 Michigan State 9 5 4
2002 Indiana 8 3 5
2011 Ohio State 11 6 5
1993 Minnesota 10 4 6
2014 Northwestern 11 5 6

First, let’s acknowledge the team that didn’t show up. Iowa, you lose when you should, and I respect you for that. Almost every other line on here represents some intense pain. Four turnovers in the Metrodome. Blown coverage deep in the ‘Shoe. Why am I doing this to myself? The entire defensive line out in Spartan Stadium. Telling my mom that this was the worst Wolverines team in history.

Two teams show up four times: Michigan State, with three “two wins better” seasons all before Ron Dayne came to campus, and Northwestern. Three times in the last 15 years Wisconsin went to Evanston with a demonstrably better team and walked out with a loss. That 2014 game still haunts me. You put your safety at QB for most of the game, but then have Joel Stave roll out in a goal line situation instead of running MELVIN GORDON.

After Saturday’s thrashing of Michigan, Ryan Field’s the only place Wisconsin hasn’t won twice since Y2K. Wisconsin has three wins at UNLV AND Hawaii in that span!

::cleansing breath::

Here’s the times Wisconsin frustrated some other fan base that came to Madison with hopes and left with a loss.

Most Likely To Storm Camp Randall

Season Opponent WiscWins OppWins Wisc-Opp Wins
Season Opponent WiscWins OppWins Wisc-Opp Wins
2003 Ohio State 7 11 -4
1985 Ohio State 5 9 -4
1992 Ohio State 5 8 -3
1987 Ohio State 3 6 -3
2001 Iowa 5 7 -2
1995 Michigan State 4 6 -2
1984 Ohio State 7 9 -2
1981 Ohio State 7 9 -2
1981 Michigan 7 9 -2
2001 Ohio State 5 7 -2
1982 Ohio State 7 9 -2

That’s hilarious.