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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Rapid Recap: Northwestern 24, Wisconsin 10

Angeli Mittal/Daily Senior Staffer
Northwestern’s defense celebrates following a stop. Interim head coach David Braun’s defense came up with stop after stop against Wisconsin in Northwestern’s 24-10 win Saturday.

MADISON, Wis. — A week removed from a listless seven-point offensive showing at The Friendly Confines, Northwestern waltzed into Camp Randall and claimed a commanding 24-10 victory over Wisconsin, propelled by graduate student quarterback Ben Bryant’s return under center.

In Bryant’s first drive in over a month, he and the Wildcats (5-5, 3-4 Big Ten) marched the length of the field with ease for six points. Bryant’s passing coalesced with a resurgence in NU’s backfield for a 24-point first half display, 

The offense stalled in the second half, but interim head coach David Braun’s defense answered the call for all four quarters. Led by sophomore defensive back Devin Turner, who registered a team-high 10 tackles on the day, the ‘Cats held the Badgers (5-5, 3-4 Big Ten) to just three points for much of the game before a garbage time touchdown.

Here are five takeaways from NU’s win in Madison.

  1. Welcome back Ben Bryant, this offense sorely missed you

Bryant made his much-anticipated return in a ‘Cats uniform Saturday. He did not disappoint.

After missing NU’s last four games with an upper body injury, Bryant donned the purple and white for the first time since the team’s clash with Penn State on Sept. 30. 

Bryant led the ‘Cats down the field on a crisp, clean and efficient 12-play, 79-yard opening scoring drive. He completed 7-of-8 passes for 56 yards, capping the drive off with a 23-yard throw to senior wide receiver A.J. Henning for a wide-open touchdown.

After tallying just seven points against Iowa at Wrigley, Bryant and the NU offense hung 24 points on the Badgers in the first half. The La Grange, Illinois, native connected on 14-of-20 throws for 169 yards and two touchdown passes, with a rushing score to boot, in the first two quarters. His passer rating at the intermission sat at a whopping 174. 

While the ‘Cats offense failed to register any points in the second half, Bryant finished the day with 195 passing yards and two touchdown passes. 

  1. NU tramples Wisconsin on the ground in first half

The ‘Cats entered Saturday’s mid-afternoon affair averaging just 98.6 rushing yards per game — the fewest in the Big Ten. 

Behind senior running back Cam Porter — who appeared to briefly turn the clock back to 2020 — and a productive cameo from sophomore running back Joseph Himon II, NU posted 125 yards on the ground in the first 30 minutes. 

Porter, in particular, continually ran right down the gut of the Wisconsin defense, generating 45 rushing yards in the first quarter alone.

  1. Bajakian breaks offensive scoring precedent against Badgers

Bajakian might’ve gotten his swagger back — or at least in the first half. 

Bajakian, in his fourth year helming the offense, has struggled to put points on the board against Wisconsin, averaging just 10.3 points in three games against NU’s northern neighbors. 

Coming off a dismal offensive display at Wrigley Field, in which the ‘Cats registered just 170 yards of total offense and only 12 first downs, Bajakian put together a first half masterclass in Madison.

NU converted 10-of-11 third downs in the first 30 minutes of football, en route to a 24-point output — the highest scoring total the ‘Cats have recorded against the Badgers in Bajakian’s tenure.

NU’s second half performance mirrored its display against Maryland a few weeks ago. After putting up an identical total of 24 points, the ‘Cats sputtered out of the intermission, generating three yards of total offense in the third frame. On Saturday, NU mustered a mere 22 yards in the third frame.

  1. Braun’s defense clamps Wisconsin offense

Four quarters of complementary football. Braun’s oft-used adage rained true against NU’s divisional foe. 

The ‘Cats surrendered 10 points to the Badgers, stifling the hosts’ rushing attack, which entered the contest averaging 161 yards on the ground per game.

Running back Braelon Allen, who torched NU with 173 rushing yards and three scores the last time these two teams met in Madison, was held to three carries for a measly three yards. In total, Wisconsin managed just 86 yards on 24 carries. 

  1. The ‘Cats are one game away from going bowling

Now up to five victories on the season, NU can officially secure bowl eligibility for the first time since 2020 with a win against Purdue at home next Saturday. 

Tabbed to finish seventh in the Big Ten West in the annual preseason media poll, the ‘Cats own a 2-2 record in division play entering Week 12.

Dates with the Boilermakers and the Fighting Illini on Nov. 18 and Nov. 25, respectively, loom large as Braun and NU sit one victory away from postseason play.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @CervantesPAlex 

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