#10 Wisconsin Badgers at #19 Northwestern Wildcats Game Preview

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Here we go again with another Big Ten West division elimination game. The #19 Northwestern Wildcats are 4-0 and in the division driver’s seat. The #10 Wisconsin Badgers come in undefeated, but having played just two games, and they really can’t afford to lose at all, because if they have one more game postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, they will be ineligible for the league championship.

The Wisconsin Badgers will enter this one as substantial favorites. Sports Betting Dime’s point spread for the game will be live this week, but according to them, Wisconsin will be the favorite by more than 7 points. Kickoff is 2:30 pm local at Ryan Field in Evanston, IL. It will be telecast on ABC, with radio coverage handled by WGN 720 AM.

pat fitzgerald

Northwestern Wildcats Preview

This is the first 4-0 start for the Wildcats since 2015, and the first 4-0 beginning in the Big Ten since a league championship season in 1996. Under coach Pat Fitzgerald, the Wildcats have won 48 one-possession games, tied for the most nationally over the past decade and a half.

That trend continued last week when they beat Purdue 27-20, covering the spread in the rain, at night on the road. It was another game that could ultimately decide who represents the Big Ten West in Indianapolis, as Purdue was poised to take control of the division, had they sprang the mild upset at home.

It was a coming out party for Northwestern wide receiver Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman, who finished the game with eight catches for 86 yards and three touchdowns, all career highs. Combining with QB1 and Indiana transfer Peyton Rasmsey, the resurgence on the offensive side of the ball has led the team’s turnaround this year.

After the worst season in Fitzgerald’s tenure last year, the Cats could be on track to win the division for the second time in three seasons.

“I think we’ve got some of the same key ingredients,” Fitz said when asked to compare and contrast this team with the division title team from two years ago.

“We’ve got some different faces in some really critically important roles, quarterback obviously being one of them. We had great consistency with Clayton that year, and you look at some of the new faces out at wide receiver, they’re making some plays for us and same thing at tight end, they are making plays for us.”

“On the defensive side of the ball, definitely some different guys up front, the linebacking core is pretty consistent with some new faces in the secondary.”

“I think this group is just working hard to improve right now.”

“All comparison type questions, I usually don’t really talk about those because every team is different. I just want our guys to be their best self. I think this group is having fun right now, I think they are having fun for each other, and it is a great group to have the privilege to coach.”

Wisconsin Badgers Preview

Wisconsin has basically been Wiscovidsin this season as the program has done a very poor job in trying to contain, or at least limit the spread of covid-19. They announced a major outbreak within their program, just after the season opener, which they won over Illinois 45-7.

Head Coach Paul Chryst was seen on national television, on several occasions, wearing his mask incorrectly. That’s a really poor example to set as program patriarch, and if you thought Chryst’s media opportunities were difficult to watch, well that’s nothing compared to seeing his off-the-field leadership in these trying times.

paul chryst pitt

Last week, back in action for the first time since Oct. 23, Wisconsin jumped out to a 28-0 first-half lead and crushed Michigan, 49-11, in Ann Arbor. The Badgers recorded 468 yards of offense, including 341 yards on the ground.

Four different Badgers combined to tally five rushing touchdowns in the game, including a pair of scores by Nakia Watson.

Wisconsin’s 38-point win was its largest-ever margin of victory over Michigan, surpassing the previous mark of 22 points in 1962.

In their two games this season, the Badgers have scored at least 45 points and have won both games by 38 points, marking the first time Wisconsin has won consecutive Big Ten games by at least 38 points since 1912, or more appropriately, six years before the last once-in-a-century plague.

We just don’t know how good, great, or what the Badgers really are right now, due to limited sample size. The two teams they routed are both quite bad.

Michigan is much worse than anyone ever expected, and coach Jim Harbaugh’s seat continues to warm.

As for the Illini, they are certainly one of the weaker teams in league, top to bottom.

Prediction: Wisconsin Badgers 31, Northwestern Wildcats 27

It’s amazing to see NU make such a rapid recovery this season after last year’s disaster. They’re legitimate, but have the bridged the overall talent and depth gap on their neighbors to the north?

The match-up of the two Big Ten schools closest in geography should be a scintillating one and we think the final margin will be closer than the bookmakers believe.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB NationFollow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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Trackbacks

  1. […] Paul M. Banks of The Sports Bank: Wisconsin 31, Northwestern 27. “It’s amazing to see NU make such a rapid recovery this season after last year’s disaster. They’re legitimate, but have the bridged the overall talent and depth gap on their neighbors to the north? The match-up of the two Big Ten schools closest in geography should be a scintillating one and we think the final margin will be closer than the bookmakers believe.” […]

  2. […] Paul M. Banks of The Sports Bank: Wisconsin 31, Northwestern 27. “It’s amazing to see NU make such a rapid recovery this season after last year’s disaster. They’re legitimate, but have the bridged the overall talent and depth gap on their neighbors to the north? The match-up of the two Big Ten schools closest in geography should be a scintillating one and we think the final margin will be closer than the bookmakers believe.” […]

  3. […] Paul M. Banks of The Sports Bank: Wisconsin 31, Northwestern 27. “It’s amazing to see NU make such a rapid recovery this season after last year’s disaster. They’re legitimate, but have the bridged the overall talent and depth gap on their neighbors to the north? The match-up of the two Big Ten schools closest in geography should be a scintillating one and we think the final margin will be closer than the bookmakers believe.” […]

  4. […] Paul M. Banks of The Sports Bank: Wisconsin 31, Northwestern 27. “It’s amazing to see NU make such a rapid recovery this season after last year’s disaster. They’re legitimate, but have the bridged the overall talent and depth gap on their neighbors to the north? The match-up of the two Big Ten schools closest in geography should be a scintillating one and we think the final margin will be closer than the bookmakers believe.” […]

  5. […] Paul M. Banks of The Sports Bank: Wisconsin 31, Northwestern 27. “It’s amazing to see NU make such a rapid recovery this season after last year’s disaster. They’re legitimate, but have the bridged the overall talent and depth gap on their neighbors to the north? The match-up of the two Big Ten schools closest in geography should be a scintillating one and we think the final margin will be closer than the bookmakers believe.” […]

  6. […] Paul M. Banks of The Sports Bank: Wisconsin 31, Northwestern 27. “It’s amazing to see NU make such a rapid recovery this season after last year’s disaster. They’re legitimate, but have the bridged the overall talent and depth gap on their neighbors to the north? The match-up of the two Big Ten schools closest in geography should be a scintillating one and we think the final margin will be closer than the bookmakers believe.” […]

  7. […] Paul M. Banks of The Sports Bank: Wisconsin 31, Northwestern 27. “It’s amazing to see NU make such a rapid recovery this season after last year’s disaster. They’re legitimate, but have the bridged the overall talent and depth gap on their neighbors to the north? The match-up of the two Big Ten schools closest in geography should be a scintillating one and we think the final margin will be closer than the bookmakers believe.” […]

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