Northwestern Wildcats’ Running Game May Not Be Successful Against Wisconsin Badgers’ Defense

By Jenna Aquino
Jerry Lai – USA Today Sports

The Northwestern Wildcats will meet the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison this Saturday. The Wildcats and Badgers are considered to be the second- and third-best teams in the Big Ten behind the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Badgers are coming off a bye week and the Wildcats are coming off of a tough loss to the Buckeyes last week. This could be an interesting game.

Both teams need to get their running games going. It could be a bad thing for the Wildcats, however, if the Badgers are able to get theirs going. The Badgers have the No. 1 running game in the Big Ten and the Wildcats have a run defense that is No. 8 in the Big Ten.

On the other hand, it could also be a bad thing for the Wildcats if they can’t get their own running game going. The key to this game will be if they can get their running game on track against a good Wisconsin defense. They could not get it together last week against a struggling Ohio State defense, even with running back Venric Mark returning from injury.

Mark carried the ball 17 times for only 60 yards against the Buckeyes. The Wildcats only had 94 yards in total rushing for the game. They also were only able to convert five out of 14 times on third down. We all know how that worked out. They lost the game. They could not get the yards they needed at critical points in the game.

The Wildcats may be even less successful against the Badgers’ defense than they were against the Buckeyes’. The Badgers’ defense is No. 2 overall in the Big Ten and they are allowing only 99.4 yards rushing.

The Wildcats need to try and get their running game going against the Wisconsin defense or they are going to be in trouble again this week. If Mark gets plenty of playing time and if they bring in mobile quarterback Kain Colter more often than they did against Ohio State, and maybe even use him as a running back, it could prove successful for the Wildcats. They need to figure something out or rely solely on their passing game.

The Wildcats will sure have to work hard for those rushing yards against a good, well-rested Wisconsin defense, but it could all pay off in the end.


Jenna Aquino is a Big Ten Football writer for Follow her on Twitter, “Like” her on Facebook, or add her to your network on Google.

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