The No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers (6-3 overall, 4-2 Big Ten) return home on Saturday morning to take on another Big Ten West opponent in the defending division champion Northwestern Wildcats (3-6 overall, 1-5 Big Ten). Needless to say, there will be a new West Division champion this year as things have not gone according to plan for the ‘Cats and head coach Pat Fitzgerald.
After a rocky start to the season, Wisconsin has rattled off five wins in a row and are only giving up an average of 7.4 points per game during their winning streak. The Badgers always seem to have trouble with the Wildcats, no matter the records, when the teams play at Ryan Field, so thankfully this year’s matchup takes place in the comfy confines of Camp Randall Stadium.
While we are still waiting to hear on whether or not starting running back Chez Mellusi will be able to suit up against NU (UPDATE: Mellusi is out for the season), their run defense is so bad that it might be smart to hold Mellusi out for an extra week and let Braelon Allen, Julius Davis, Brady Schipper and company add to their season rushing totals.
We are very much on the Let Braelon Allen Run train, so we’ll see how the carries are divided up on Saturday.
How to watch/listen
TV: ESPN2, 11:00 a.m. CT, Clay Matvick, Rocky Boiman, Tiffany Blackmon
Streaming: ESPN app
Stadium: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wis.
Weather: Madison, Wis. (cloudy and cold)
(Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.)
Fun facts (according to the media guides)
- Wisconsin and Northwestern have split their last 16 meetings, dating to 1999, but the Badgers have claimed six of the last seven meetings at Camp Randall.
- The only reason that isn’t seven of the seven is because the refs didn’t see that #JazzCaughtIt.
- Wisconsin leads the overall series, 60-37-5.
- The Badgers are 18-4 (.818) in games played in the month of November under seventh-year head coach Paul Chryst.
- Northwestern is 20-11 in the month of November since 2015.
- Wisconsin boasts the nation’s top defense, ranking among the top five nationally in every major category and powering Wisconsin’s win streak with a dominant five-game stretch in which it has allowed just 7.4 points and 185.6 yards per contest.
- Wisconsin’s defense has limited opponents to an average of just 4.9 plays per drive this season, matching Western Michigan for the best mark of any FBS team.
- The Badgers’ 13 takeaways during their five-game win streak are the most among Power Five teams in that five week stretch. Purdue (12) has the second-most takeaways during that span.
- UW has allowed its opponents to score on just 17.6% of their posesssions (19 of 108), the second-best mark in the FBS this season. Only Georgia has allowed points on a lower percentage of its opponents’ drives, at just 10.4% (11 of 106).
- Wisconsin has held six of their nine opponents to 50 rushing yards or fewer — with four of those opponents averaging less than 1.0 yard per carry
- QB Graham Mertz’s pass efficiency rating of 244.1 at Rutgers is the second-highest by a Big Ten quarterback in a conference game this season (minimum 15 attempts), trailing only Ohio State’s CJ Stroud, who posted a pass efficiency mark of 266.2 at Rutgers.
- Over the last four games, ILB Leo Chenal has tallied 42 tackles, 10.5 TFLs and 5.0 sacks.
- A native of Fond du Lac, RB Braelon Allen joined 1954 Heisman Trophy winner Alan Ameche (Kenosha) as Wisconsin natives to post 100- yard efforts as UW true freshmen. Ameche did so in four games as a freshman in 1951.
- TE Jake Ferguson has caught at least one pass in each of his 43 career games.
- Northwestern LB Chris Bergin averages 12.2 tackles per game (110 tackles) and 7.7 solo stops per game (69 solo tackles) which leads the country.
- Northwestern special teams coordinator Jeff Genyk held the same role at Wisconsin from 2013- 14 while also overseeing the Badgers’ tight ends. Genyk’s son, junior TE Jake Genyk (Middleton), is the lone Wisconsin native on Northwestern’s roster.
- Wisconsin senior ILB Jack Sanborn and freshman ILB Bryan Sanborn attended Lake Zurich (Ill.) High School, as did Northwestern sophomore TE Hunter Welcing and sophomore WR Jack Moses.
- Wisconsin junior QB Chase Wolf and Northwestern sophomore TE Marshall Lang both attended St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati.
- Wisconsin senior OLB Izayah Green-May and Northwestern sophomore DB Cameron Mitchell both attended Bolingbrook (Ill.) High School.
- Wisconsin sophomore OLB Spencer Lytle and Northwestern senior WR Berkeley Holman attended Saint John Bosco (Calif.) High School.