Our “how you doing” feature is back for year three! Each week we at B5Q will review how each of Wisconsin’s opponents has fared heading into their contest with the Badgers. The Wisconsin Badgers are winless in the conference (2-3 overall, 0-2 B1G) and travel south to Chicagoland for the weekend to faceoff against the Northwestern Wildcats (1-4 overall, 1-1 B1G) at their Evanston home.
We don’t know what will happen this Saturday, but let’s take a look at team that has fair worse than Wisconsin so far this season.
- Win vs. Nebraska 31-28
- Loss vs. Duke 31-23
- Loss vs. S Illinois 31-24
- Loss vs. Miami (Ohio) 17-14
- Loss at Penn State 17-7
Nobody’s sweating too much over Northwestern’s offensive production, but the Badgers probably should given the state of things recently. Northwestern’s overall offense is slightly more productive than Wisconsin’s offense. They’re in the slightly lower half of all NCAA teams in points produced with 19.8 points per game, currently second to last in the B1G. However, their rushing attack is clearly the weak point in the offense with only 119 yards pregame.
Their ground game isn’t as productive as the Badgers, but they have still been able to chew up more yards through the air than Wisconsin averaging 285.8 yards per game, that’s almost 60 yards than what Wisconsin is putting up. But the potential good news for the Wisconsin defense is that they don’t put up many points through the air and are likely to put up almost as many turnovers.
Their quarterback Ryan Hilinski has thrown six touchdowns to four interceptions. Wide receivers Malik Washington, Evan Hull, and tight end Thomas Gordan are three of the team’s top four targets. All three have over ten receptions on the season and are averaging over ten yards a catch if they hang onto the ball. Washington at 11.2 YPC, Hull at 10.7 YPC, and Gordon with the highest at 13.3 YPC. This could be the most dangerous area for the Wisconsin defense to look out for.
Unlike Wisconsin, Northwestern’s defense is ranked toward the bottom of most lists when it comes to team defense. The Wildcats are giving up almost 400 yards a game split somewhat evenly between their awful rushing and passing defense. Giving up 172.6 on the ground and 211.6 through the air. They’ve been successful in creating pressure and have just as many sacks as the Badgers with 9 overall. They have eaten up more sack yards lost than the badgers with 72yards total.
The Northwestern defensive unit has also had a shocking amount of success creating turnovers for a team with so many losses. They have caused eleven turnovers in total. That’s two more than Wisconsin has at nine turnovers. It’s true that almost half of the season’s turnovers came in last week’s loss to Penn State with four forced fumbles and one interception. But they can create chaos and that’s dangerous for anyone. Especially with the Badgers playing the way they have.
This team like the Badgers had higher expectations than what’s transpired. They weren’t expecting to be undefeated, but they definitely weren’t expecting to lose to Miami, the Ohio one, or FCS’s Southern Illinois. But here they are. The good news for Pat Fitzgerald is that his alma matter is unlikely to terminate him. As for the team, it’ll be a miracle if they’re able to become bowl eligible. However, there is good news for the future things are looking somewhat promising with 14 three-star commits and two four-stars ready to become Wildcats. This week’s going to be a rough one to watch I imagine. Even if the Badgers do win neither of these teams is playing at the level they were expected to this season.