Wisconsin seeks to become eligible for 22nd consecutive bowl appearance as it hosts Northwestern
MADISON, Wisc. (AP) — Northwestern (4-5, 2-4 Big Ten) will visit Wisconsin (5-4, 3-3) on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and will air on FS1.
Wisconsin is favored to win by 10 ½ points according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Wisconsin also leads the series record at 29-15-2.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Wisconsin has lost two straight games, but needs just one more win to become bowl eligible as the Badgers attempt to play in a bowl game for the 22nd straight season. The only teams with longer active bowl streaks are Georgia and Oklahoma. If Northwestern beats Wisconsin to improve to 5-5, the Wildcats would exceed their combined win total from the last two seasons. Northwestern went 3-9 in 2021 and 1-11 in 2022.
Wisconsin passing game vs. Northwestern pass defense. Wisconsin has been leaning more on its passing game with injuries sidelining RBs Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi. The Badgers have attempted at least 39 passes in each of their four games. Braedyn Locke, who has been Wisconsin’s starting QB since Tanner Mordecai broke his hand in mid-October, has completed only half his passes but he’s thrown just one interception. Northwestern is coming off a 10-7 loss to Iowa in which it gave up just 65 yards passing, the lowest total it had allowed in a Big Ten game since 2017.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Northwestern: LB Xander Mueller collected a career-high 19 tackles – including 12 solos – in the loss to Iowa at Wrigley Field last week. Mueller has 74 tackles this season to go along with 9 ½ tackles for loss and 4 ½ sacks. He is one of only two players in the Big Ten (Indiana’s Aaron Casey is the other) and six throughout the Football Bowl Subdivision to have at least 70 tackles and at least 4 1/2 sacks.
Wisconsin: OLB C.J. Goetz had a career-high 12 tackles in Wisconsin’s 20-14 loss at Indiana last week, which marked the second time in three games he’s made at least 10 stops. Goetz has totaled 7 ½ tackles for loss over his last five games.
FACTS & FIGURES
Northwestern interim head coach David Braun is one win away from becoming the first Wildcats coach since Walter McCornack in 1903 to have at least five victories in his first season. That 1903 team went 10-1-3. Wisconsin is seeking to beat Northwestern for a third consecutive time after trouncing the Wildcats 35-7 in 2021 and 42-7 in 2022. No team has won three straight from the other in this matchup since Wisconsin did it from 1997-99. Locke’s 121 consecutive passes without an interception represent the longest such streak by a Wisconsin quarterback since Russell Wilson threw 158 straight passes without getting picked off in 2011. Northwestern has lost only one fumble all season. Wisconsin CB Ricardo Hallman has five interceptions to match the second-highest total by any FBS player. Notre Dame’s Xavier Watts has seven interceptions. Northwestern K Jack Olsen is 11 of 12 on field-goal attempts and 20 of 20 on extra points this season. He has made all his attempts from inside 50 yards.
Copyright 2023 WSAW. All rights reserved.