Northwestern Football: Opening Result Similar to Wisconsin Badgers

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pat fitzgerald

Northwestern football entered the season with “sleeper” status to win the B1G West division. Almost every single college football pundit who made a prognostication on the division picked the Wisconsin Badgers to win it. Northwestern was essentially the consensus pick to finish second, with some predictors going out on a limb to peg the Wildcats as eventual division winners.

There’s also a few “experts” here and there that see Nebraska as being a contender, but the remaining four teams (Iowa, Minnesota, Purdue and Illinois) are all considered by most to be out of the mix. If it is to be a two horse race between the Wisconsin and Northwestern football teams for the divisional crown, then it’s interesting how the season began in such similar fashion for both teams.

northwestern football tyler lancaster

Both struggled with a Mountain West team (who coincidentally even wear the same colors) early, but then pulled away late. It was the cliched “tail of two halves” for both teams, with Wisconsin obviously being much more emphatic in the second 30 minutes than the Cats, but that’s why the Badgers are the reigning champs of the division, and the favorites to end up in Indianapolis for the B1G Title championship game.

Wisconsin headed to the locker room tied 10-10 with Utah State, but then sent a major message, blowing out the Aggies 49-0 after the half. Northwestern entered the half trailing Nevada 17-7, but then dominated the Wolfpack on the scoreboard 24-3 after the intermission.

“By far from a work of art, but to come in to the locker room down two scores, and to come out up two scores shows a great resiliency,” Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald said after the game.

NU out-gained Nevada 508-341 in yardage while Wisconsin out-gained USU 478-304. The Badgers were a little more balanced with 234 rushing yards to 244 passing yards, while the Cats did most of their damage through the air (352 passing to 156 rushing)

tyler lancaster

Defensive tackle Tyler Lancaster, one of the preseason’s most uplifting and interesting storylines, had a key stop on 4th down, to go along with four tackles, one for a loss.

“As we saw in college football this week, a lot of the first halves seemed the same,” Lancaster said. “But it’s all about responding. We went in there changed up the game plan, accounted for things we didn’t account for and just came out swinging.”

Thus Lancaster noticed the commonalities that we saw in the opening week of college football.

Clayton Thorson set career highs in passing yards with 352, and completions with 28. He also accounted for four touchdowns (two passing, two rushing).

Northwestern football heads to Duke next week, while the Badgers will host the compelling Lane Kiffin and his FAU Owls next Saturday.

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Circle the date, September 30th, when the two teams will clash in Madison.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now and Minute Media. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and Chicago Now.

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