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Wisconsin Football: Keys to Victory against Northwestern

What do the Badgers need to do to come away with a victory against the Wildcats?

Syndication: The Reporter Doug Raflik / USA TODAY NETWORK

This week Wisconsin heads down to the Windy City/Chi-town/Chicago. Well really, it’s

Evanston, Illinois. No, it’s not a rematch with the Illini although that would be preferred, as I can’t wait till next year. Redemption! This week they face that other Illinois team, the Northwestern Wildcats. Northwestern’s Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald might also be on the hot seat for the way things have started this season. Big Ten Coaches are dropping like flies. No one is safe. But let’s look at what needs to happen for the Badgers to head back home with a W.

Syndication: Journal Sentinel Mark Hoffman via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Don’t turn the ball

Mertz has thrown almost as many interceptions as he has touchdowns. This is not the way. We were supposed to have an ariel attack this year but it’s just not happening. The honeymoon period following the addition of Bobby Engram is over. The first half of the season feels like a lost cause.

However, there’s a second half of a season yet to be played. Wisconsin must find ways to make sure Mertz isn’t putting the ball in lanes where this defense can take advantage. Last week the Wildcats forced 5 total turnovers including an interception. This kept them in the game with Penn State. Yeah! So, if they can keep up with Penn State off-high turnovers, I would hate to see what it would look like for this Badgers offense. Interim Head Coach Jim Leonhard said they need to start playing cleaner football and it will need to start right here.

Shutdown the pass

The Northwestern offense isn’t known for putting up a lot of points but they’ve had success with big plays through the air. Three of their four main targets are averaging above 10 yards per catch. If this Wisconsin D isn’t too worn out from an unproductive offense, they can stay fresh and do a fairly good job at not just staying in the game but causing chaos that could lead to turnovers.

The Wildcat’s rushing attack is not anything special, they don’t have anyone near Braelon Allen’s level of talent but they can put together over one hundred yards per game as a group. If Wisconsin can keep them on the ground, they’ll have a higher chance of turnovers on possession and getting the ball back into the hands of the Badger offense.

Illinois v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

Embrace change

Well, last week was…awful. I still don’t get the decision to terminate Chryst mid-season but here we are. Thank you for everything Paul. The good news is we can see what Leonard looks like as the leader. The bad news is that this isn’t really a fair shake at what a Leonard-led team could really look like. But if the team can unite through this change, it could be the beginning of something great and maybe even save what’s nearly a lost season.

There’s still a possibility for the Badgers to become bowl eligible but it’s looking grim as of late. This team isn’t the same Wisconsin teams we’ve become accustomed to watching. They need to take that glass full of expectations and smash it against the wall. This is a new team, in a new era, with new rules.

Maybe Wisconsin can still be an RBU but we have to be able to attack with multiple packages. The game seems to have already passed the Badgers by. Both in terms off of the field, talking about the NIL, and the on-field play.