The Big Ten game of the week will be played in Madison Wisconsin this week as the two-loss Wisconsin Badgers will play host to the one-loss Northwestern Wildcats. Camp Randal will be more boisterous than usual on Saturday as Wisconsin attempts to knock off the no. 19-ranked Wildcats. Both teams have one loss in the Big Ten at the hands of the Ohio State Buckeyes.
The battle between these two teams will possibly be for the bragging rights of second best team in the Big Ten in 2013 even though Wisconsin has most likely eliminated themselves from a Big Ten Championship appearance with their loss to the Buckeyes. Northwestern could still win the Legends Division and have a rematch against Buckeyes.
What will the Wildcats have to do to escort the Badgers fans out of the stadium in disappointing fashion? They will need to stop the vaunted rushing attack of the Badgers. It is not necessary to mention the running backs for Wisconsin this week. In fact, perhaps credit should be given to the men up front who open the holes for whoever lines up in the backfield.
There are two seniors in the two-deep depth chart for the Wisconsin offensive line, Ryan Groy and Zach Matthias. The other eight men will most likely be back to clear the road for the Badgers’ offense again next year. Northwestern will need an outstanding effort to rebound from their loss last week, and the toughest battle to win against the Badgers has always been and will always be in the trenches.
That said, sophomore Joel Stauve is a capable passer and the Northwestern defense is not their strong suit. The Wildcats’ defense needs to key on the run without letting any big plays behind them. Their best bet is to allow Stauve to attempt to pick them apart with a short passing game, where their athletic linebackers could prove to be helpful.
For the Badgers, it is vital for them to use that rushing attack to keep Pat Fitzgerald’s versatile offense off of the field. They do not want to see Venrik Marc, Kain Colter and Trevor Seimian on the field very often. Wisconsin should continue to rush the ball and most importantly, not turn the ball over to an opportunistic Wildcats defense.
Also, the Badgers want to lull the Wildcats to sleep in this game. They do not want the excitement that Northwestern brings to a game to get out of hand. If the Badgers can slowly build up a solid lead and prevent the big play, they should have the advantage in this contest. If they allow Northwestern the opportunity for some big plays down the field, it could be a long day for the Badgers defense.
My prediction for this game is another heartbreaking loss for Northwestern. They are probably the better team, but they will be playing in a very intimidating environment on Saturday. They may also be licking their wounds from a heartbreaking loss to Ohio State. This should be a great game with a slight edge going to the home team.