Rapid Recap: No. 10 Wisconsin 33, Northwestern 24

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Allie Goulding/Daily Senior Staffer

Clayton Thorson gets tackled. Wisconsin sacked the junior quarterback eight times Saturday afternoon.

Max Schuman, Gameday Editor


Football


MADISON, Wis. — Life comes at you fast.

Northwestern (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten) took a 10-7 edge into halftime at No. 10 Wisconsin (4-0, 1-0), feeling good about its chances for a statement victory in Madison.

But a 61-yard bomb from Badgers quarterback Alex Hornibrook to receiver Quintez Cephus on Wisconsin’s first drive of the second half finally opened the floodgates. The Badgers scored a touchdown on the next play and then again on the next drive to pull ahead 21-10.

That proved to be enough for Wisconsin, as NU’s offense failed to muster a sufficient answer until it was too late. A pair of late touchdowns gave the Cats a chance at a miraculous 98-yard touchdown drive to tie the game with a minute remaining in the fourth, but the Badgers forced a safety to seal a 33-24 win.

Takeaways

1. That long pass to Cephus was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The Cats’ defense played a genuinely good first half. NU held up well against the run, harried Hornibrook and forced three turnovers, including a fumble on the first play of the game that set up a field goal. In the first half, Wisconsin gained just 114 yards; the Badgers had more than 300 by the end of the game. Given the state of NU’s offense, the defense needed to be nearly perfect to pull off the upset. It couldn’t do that for the entire game.

2. The Cats’ offense struggled. Few teams this season will solve Wisconsin’s defense, which has the pieces to be one of the best in the country. But NU’s offensive showing was subpar at best until garbage time, and it sunk the team’s chances of victory. The Cats notched just 244 yards in total and couldn’t manufacture enough big plays or long drives to answer the Badgers in the second half. A pick-six from junior quarterback Clayton Thorson in the fourth quarter effectively sealed the game, putting NU down three scores.

3. Suddenly 2017 feels a little like 2016. After sputtering out of the gate a year ago with a pair of nonconference losses, the Cats set themselves back further in their Big Ten opener, a humbling 24-13 home loss to Nebraska. This loss followed a similar script to that contest, as NU fell short in a number of key areas despite a respectable scoreline. The Cats turned things around after the loss to the Cornhuskers, winning three straight. But a repeat this fall will be tough, as No. 4 Penn State awaits next weekend.

Stats
-Northwestern surrendered eight sacks
-Justin Jackson: 25 rushing yards

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Twitter: @maxschuman28

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