Whole Nine Sports

#10 Wisconsin @ #19 Northwestern Preview

Wisconsin Northwestern
Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Melissa Wamp
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To secure their second conference championship game appearance in three years, the Northwestern Wildcats will first have to beat the Wisconsin Badgers, who are still the odds-on favorite to win the division, despite having two games canceled due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Here we go again with another Big Ten West division elimination game, the teams have split the last 6 meetings and #19 Northwestern have won five of the last six at home but #10 Wisconsin holds a 60-36-5 lead in the all-time series.

Chris Bergin Northwestern

This is the first 4-0 start for the Wildcats since 2015 and the first 4-0 beginning in Big Ten play since their conference championship season in 1996. The Wildcats defense has gone above and beyond this season, intercepting eight passes in the first four games after coming off the 2019 season with only seven and has limited opponents to three touchdowns and 210 yards passing per game.

Despite losing former 2,000 yard rusher Jonathan Taylor to the NFL, Wisconsin still lives on with running the ball – securing the nation’s fifth-highest run play percentage. The Badgers could face some difficulty against the Wildcat’s top-caliber run defense.

Even though Northwestern has held quarterbacks to just 4.77 yards per attempt this season, Grahm Mertz has looked nothing short of dominant and that statistic won’t shake him. He controlled the Illinois matchup, securing 248 yards in the air, five touchdowns, and almost had a complete game but fell shy with one incompletion. 

Graham Mertz Wisconsin

Mertz tested positive for COVID-19 following the season opener but followed up against Michigan with a 49-11 victory with 127 yards and two touchdowns while his squad tallied 468 yards of offense, including 341 yards on the ground. This 38-point victory is the largest margin over Michigan for Wisconsin..

The matchup between Wisconsin and Northwestern will kickoff in Ryan Field at 3:30 PM ET today.