Football: Rapid Reaction: Wisconsin 35, Northwestern 6

John Paschall, Assistant Gameday Editor

What went right:

Almost nothing went right for Northwestern on Saturday against Wisconsin.

If there was one slight positive, it was the defense’s ability to create turnovers. Junior defensive backs Jimmy Hall and Ibraheim Campbell both intercepted quarterback Joel Stave in the first half to halt Badger drives. Senior linebacker Damien Proby also forced a fumble on Wisconsin’s first drive to set up NU with good field position.

Senior kicker Jeff Budzien gave NU its only points with two made field goals. The Wisconsin native struggled early in the year but seems to have gotten back on track recently.

What went wrong:

Everything that could go wrong did.

NU forgot to pack its offense when it traveled up to Camp Randall Stadium. Junior quarterback Trevor Siemian missed a handful of open receivers when he had time to throw. But the offensive line didn’t help the cause, allowing Badger defenders to chase Siemian constantly. To make matters worse for the Wildcats, the few times the quarterback was able to read the field and throw an on-the-mark pass, NU receivers were plagued by drops and not able to make any big plays.

The rushing attack was nonexistent for the entire afternoon. The offensive line could not establish holes for the backs to run through. The Cats also suffered from the absence of senior running back Venric Mark, who left the game early with a lower-body injury and did not return.

The defense held its own early in the game, giving the Cats a shot. But the flood gates opened in the second quarter, and NU could not stop the leak. The Badgers’ offensive line bullied the Cats’ defensive line all day long. NU was not able to get stops on third down when it needed to, resulting in long drives that eventually wore out the defense.

What it means:

It was an ugly game from the start — and certainly a step back from last week.

But it’s not the end of the world for NU. Everyone knew the two games against Ohio State and Wisconsin would be the toughest stretch of the team’s schedule. But neither is in the Cats’ division, and NU can still work its way back up the ladder in the Legends’ bracket.

The Cats will have to regroup this week as they welcome Minnesota to Ryan Field on Saturday.

John Paschall