The Northwestern Wildcats had a chance to reassert themselves as an up-and-coming program on the national scene today by going into Madison, Wis. and beating the Wisconsin Badgers on their home field. The Wildcats not only weren’t able to take advantage of the situation, but looked like a team bereft of any intensity against Wisconsin’s power running game.
The Badgers ran all over Northwestern, led by Melvin Gordon‘s 177 total yards on 23 touches, en route to a 35-6 home win over Northwestern. It was the second-straight week the Wildcats have given up over 240 yards rushing, but this time the Northwestern defense looked emotionally spent. To make the situation worse, the Wildcat offense looked just as lifeless.
A big blow to Northwestern’s offensive numbers were dealt by Wisconsin holding a nearly 17-minute time of possession advantage and the injury to quarterback Kain Colter, but even when Colter was in and the Wildcats had the ball, it wasn’t pretty. Northwestern averaged less than two yards per carry and was just 2-for-17 on third-down conversions. While the Wildcats did win the turnover battle, their inability to move the ball made that fact irrelevant.
Northwestern needs to take whatever measures it needs to in order to get over the letdown effect in a hurry. After a home game against Minnesota next week, the schedule gets tough for the Wildcats. Two-consecutive road games at Iowa and Nebraska are followed by home meetings with Michigan and Michigan State. If the hangover continues, Northwestern could find itself in the middle of a bad season.
What’s for sure is that with now two conference losses, Northwestern can’t afford to drop another game and have any chance to play in the Big Ten Championship game. They already have a head-to-head losses to Ohio State and now Wisconsin. If the Wildcats can’t get over this emotional hurdle soon, the season will get away from them quickly.
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