MADISON — The No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers (7-3 overall, 5-2 Big Ten) continued their domination of Big Ten opponents on Saturday afternoon against the Northwestern Wildcats (3-7 overall, 1-6 Big Ten), with a 35-7 victory.
Northwestern’s opening drive went for 19 plays and 82 yards and lasted for nearly eight minutes of the first quarter. However, the Wildcats were unable to cap off the drive with a score, as Caesar Williams intercepted an Andrew Marty pass in the end zone.
Williams now has three interceptions on the season and has recorded interceptions in back-to-back games.
It was the first of four interceptions by the Badgers defense in the game and was just the beginning of their assault on the Northwestern offense.
“We’re kind of in a phase where it’s just contagious, turnovers are contagious, big plays are contagious, everyone wants to get in on the fun,” John Torchio said. “I think the first drive kind of needed to settle down a bit, we were missing tackles, but after that it was kind of like alright let’s go, one turnover, boom, who’s going to get the next one.”
Torchio recorded his second interception of the season against the Wildcats. Wisconsin has now forced 16 turnovers over the last for games and improved a turnover margin that was once -11, to -1.
CB Dean Engram record his first career interception in the game, while ILB Jordan Turner recorded his second, with his first coming last weekend against Rutgers.
Northwestern only managed to gain 239 yards in the game, after picking up 82 on its first drive.
Of their 239 yards, the Wildcats gained 125 yards through the air and their two quarterbacks combined to go 13-of-26 passing. Up front, Wisconsin continued their terrorizing of the opposition’s quarterbacks, sacking the various Wildcat signal callers three times.
Hunter Wohler recorded his first career sack, while Matt Henningsen added his third of the season. Leo Chenal added a sack of his own and now has 6.5 on the season. Chenal also recorded a game-high 14 tackles (nine solo). Jack Sanborn finished with 10 (six solo).
Northwestern became just the third team this season to rush for 100 or more yards against the Badger, top-rated rushing defense, finishing the game with 114 yards on the ground.
Wisconsin is now allowing 59.8 rushing yard per game this season, which is far and away the best in the nation.
Northwestern finished the game 3-of-13 on third down, and 1-of-3 on fourth down, with its only conversions coming on its opening drive. The Badger defense allowed zero points in the game, for the third time this season, as the only Northwestern points were scored on an A.J. Hampton Jr. 49-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.
The win over Northwestern was Wisconsin’s sixth in a row and during that streak, Wisconsin is allowing just 7.33 points per game while scoring an average of 28 points per game.
Coincidentally, Braelon Allen recorded his sixth straight 100-yard game, in the win, rushing 25 times for 173 yards and three touchdowns. Allen tied Anthony Davis’ school record in the game, for most consecutive games with 100+ rushing yards by a freshman, which Davis set in 2001.
Wisconsin’s offense was led by another balanced attack, as the Badgers compiled 497 yards in the game, gaining 229 yards through the air and 268 on the ground.
While Allen led the charge in the rushing attack, Graham Mertz continued his hot hand passing the ball. Mertz threw for over 200 yards in the second straight game, throwing for 216 yards, on 18-of-23 passing, while throwing two touchdown passes and one interception. He was spreading the ball around too, completing passes to nine different receivers on the day.
“We got a bunch of playmakers, it’s my job to get them the ball,” Mertz said. “Whenever you can spread it out to a bunch of guys and make them defend the whole field, that’s a good thing, it was definitely fun to get a lot of guys touches and let them go out and try to make a play.”
Mertz’s first passing touchdown went to Danny Davis III, who has now scored in back-to-back games after not scoring since the 2020 season opener. Jake Ferguson caught Mertz’s second touchdown pass, also his second score of the season.
Ferguson also continued his consecutive game with a reception streak, which is now at 44 games, while recording four receptions for 43 yards to go along with his score.
Wisconsin hosts Nebraska (3-7 overall, 1-6 Big Ten) next Saturday in the home finale, as it looks to continue its quest of a Big Ten West Title.