The Soldier Field Showdown II quickly turned into the Soldier Field Beatdown as the #7/#8 Wisconsin Badgers (3-0) flashed their offensive dominance in a 49-7 win over the Northern Illinois Huskies (1-2).
It’s time to start calling QB Russell Wilson “Mr. Efficient” because the guy was almost perfect while completing 23 of his 32 passes for 347 yards, three touchdowns and just one late interception. Wilson also became the ninth quarterback in franchise history to eclipse the 300 yard mark and has transformed himself into a real Heisman candidate.
What It Means: Wisconsin has proved that it’s going to take a significantly better defense (perhaps Michigan State or Ohio State) to slow down their offense. UNLV couldn’t do it, Oregon State made an effort and couldn’t and now Dave Doeren’s Huskies miserably failed at containing the Badgers dynamic personnel. The Badgers put together 621 total yards on offense, numbers which safety Aaron Henry called “video game numbers.”
Meanwhile, the defense did a great job of keeping a solid Huskies offense on their heels the entire game. This defense that has now allowed only seven points in their last two contests is excelling by keeping it “simple,” according to Head Coach Bret Bielema.
If the Badgers can avoid looking past their next game with a cupcake, they have an excellent shot at entering the conference season as one of the best teams in the country at the perfect time.
Player of the Game: QB Russell Wilson (23/32, 386 total yards and three touchdowns)
Everyone knows the Badgers love to run the ball, but for the first time in a long time, the passing game looked like the emphasis of UW’s game-plan. Of course, there ended up being 47 running plays compared to 34 passing, but it really was the pass which set up the run in this game.
The reason for such an oddity is Wilson, who looked like he didn’t know how to make the wrong decision. Every time the Huskies conjured up a blitz, Wilson made the read and used his sneaky good speed to pick up the first down. The only question I have left is whether he has the ability to help rally this Badgers team, if that’s even necessary this season.
Honorable mention to Jarred Abbrederis who had a team-high six catches for 83 yards and is quietly becoming one of Wilson’s most underrated weapons.
Highlight of the Game: WR Nick Toon continues to climb draft boards with unbelievable catches. In the first quarter, Wilson and Toon connected on what is becoming a common occurrence in 2011 by catching a 13 yard touchdown. What made it even sweeter was Toon’s ability to concentrate while a Huskie defender was draped all over him. Toon finished the game with five catches, 75 yards and two touchdowns.
Stat of the Game: RB Montee Ball has now scored a touchdown in nine straight games. With two in the Soldier Field Showdown, Ball currently has 22 total trips to paydirt in that same timespan.
What’s Next: Wisconsin travels back to Camp Randall for one final tune-up before the highly-anticipated Big Ten Opener against Nebraska. South Dakota (1-1) will be the unfortunate foe who has to deal with one of the most potent offensive attacks in the country. On a coverage note, this will be the Badgers debut on the Big Ten Network as their first three games were all telecasted on ESPN’s family of networks. Kick-off is slated for 2:30 PM CT.
What did you think of the Badgers decisive win over the Huskies of Northern Illinois? Let me know by commenting below!
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, and Milwaukee Brewers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.Follow paulmbanks