No. 10 Wisconsin turned the ball over five times and didn’t score after the first quarter in an ugly 17-7 loss to No. 19 Northwestern in matchup of unbeaten teams Saturday in Evanston.
Offense: RB Jalen Berger
There was little to like about Wisconsin’s offense but Berger was a bright spot. For a second-straight week, he led the Badgers in rushing with 93 yards on 15 touches. Whereas he was a little more finesse in his first game against Michigan, the true freshman ran with power against a tough Northwestern front-seven. He had a long run of 17 and continually showed a burst that the rest of the backfield is missing. That he only got 15 of Wisconsin’s 40 carries will probably be among the biggest questions coming out of the game.
Defense: LB Jack Sanborn, LB Leo Chenal
The two inside linebackers helped the Badgers dominate the Northwestern running game, limiting the Wildcats to just 24 yards on 23 carries. Sanborn led the way with 14 tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss, while Chenal had six tackles. The latter also got after Northwestern’s Peyton Ramsey in the pass game, as he was credited with five quarterback hurries.
The Badgers are now allowing just 67.3 yards per game on the ground, and Sanborn and Chenal, along with a stout defensive line, deserve a ton of credit for that.
— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) November 21, 2020
There’s absolutely nothing worse than playing at Northwestern. No fans. Bad field. Crappy weather. Trap game every time.
— Vince Biegel (@VinceBiegel) November 21, 2020
wouldn't have my B1G football any other way pic.twitter.com/frQIsIyktJ
— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) November 21, 2020
I seriously want to fist fight all of the B1G refs after this weekend. But I’m a calm guy so I’m going to stop tweeting about how all of them should be fired and kicked out of the country #Calm.
— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) November 21, 2020
In 6 seasons at Wisconsin, Paul Chryst has 3 losses to Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald. No other coach has more than 2 wins against Chryst at UW
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) November 22, 2020
Highway robbery!! I thank God for the opportunity and I believe the best is yet to come. #OnWisconsin
— Caesar Williams (@Caesar_Austin) November 22, 2020
Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz on the team's focus moving forward: "We’re going to flush it and we’re going to go get the axe. We’re going to keep the axe."
— Jesse Temple (@jessetemple) November 22, 2020
In Case You Missed It
— Wisconsin was without starting wide receivers Danny Davis and Kendric Pryor. Both were listed out for undisclosed reasons, though Pryor was knocked out of the Michigan game with an injury, while Davis also got dinged up in that game.
— Wisconsin lost starting cornerback Rachad Wildgoose (shoulder) in the first half and he did not return. Tight end Jake Ferguson (shoulder) and wide receiver Jack Dunn (ankle) were in and out of the game in the second half.
— Quarterback Jack Coan continues to recover from foot surgery on Oct. 6. Though he didn’t dress, he was out on the field throwing before the game. There has been no timeline given for his return.
— Freshman Chimere Dike got his first start and caught the first touchdown of his career, a pretty 49-yard strike from quarterback Graham Mertz in the first quarter.
Inside the Numbers
4 — Wisconsin got called for defensive pass interference four times. Three came on drives that Northwestern scored on.
5 — That’s how many turnovers Wisconsin had. It’s the first time they’ve had five turnovers in a game since Nov. 21, 2015 against Northwestern in a 13-7 loss.
4 — That’s how many of the turnovers Mertz was responsible for. He threw the first three interceptions of his career and also lost a fumble.
13 — That’s how many times Wisconsin has turned the ball over in the three losses to Northwestern with Paul Chryst as coach.
13.3 — That was Northwestern’s third-down conversion percentage against Wisconsin’s defense. For the season, the Badgers are allowing teams to convert on just 19.4% of their third downs.
Wisconsin (2-1) will welcome Minnesota (2-3) to Camp Randall Stadium in the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe next Saturday.