Northwestern prevails in Madison after controversial finish
Final: No. 20 Northwestern 13, No. 25 Wisconsin 7
Key play: Jazz Peavy catches 1-yard touchdown…and it’s overruled
Go figure. Two different times it appeared that Wisconsin had won the game. But two straight touchdowns were overturned, the second one was plenty controversial. Peavy appeared to have complete control of the ball going out of bounds but the officials ruled that he didn’t complete the catch. Somewhere, Dez Bryant was yelling at his TV…as was probably every Wisconsin fan on the face of the earth. That’s an incredibly tough way to lose such a hard-fought game.
Telling stat: Five Wisconsin turnovers
Controversial finish aside, you cannot commit that many mistakes and expect to win a game against anybody, much less a ranked opponent. It was almost exactly like last year’s game in Evanston, in which the Badgers threw four interceptions and lost by a touchdown. Stave’s final game in Madison put an ugly end to an odd career, which is a shame because he’ll go down as one of the most successful quarterbacks in program history. It’s sad that Wisconsin actually still had a chance to win despite that stat. That’s a credit to a whale of an effort by the Badger defense.
-Justin Jackson was a beast
Wisconsin didn’t surrender much, but what they did surrender came at the hands of Jackson. The Northwestern tailback was the workhorse they needed in a game like that. A whopping 35 carries told you all you needed to know about the game plan on Saturday. In those conditions, getting the ball out of Thorson’s hands was the goal from start to finish. It’s hard to say that a guy who only averaged four yards per carry was a star, but given how much the two defenses dominated this one, Jackson was far and away the best offensive player on the field.
-Corey Clement played…but not much
The Wisconsin tailback wasn’t a lock to even play on Saturday. He had a hand injury during the bye week on top of the fact that he had groin issues coming off his sports hernia surgery. But Clement did play, though he clearly was not at 100 percent. Paul Chryst only gave him the ball 10 times, and on a day in which the Badgers needed to get the ball out of Stave’s hands, it didn’t have its best playmaker to give the ball to. That clearly hurt.
What it means: These defenses are good, these offenses are not
Both defenses deserved to win that game. Neither offense did. Sure, the conditions weren’t ideal for offense. But still, that was a game in which we really saw what both of these teams have built their teams on. Between Walker and Dean Lowry, the Wildcats wreaked all sorts of havoc on Stave all afternoon. Vince Biegel and Joe Schobert did the same to Clayton Thorson. Still, both units found themselves on the field far too often, desperate for a little bit of help from their offenses. This was a classic late-November game in the B1G — offensive struggles or not — because of two dominant defensive efforts. Still, Northwestern’s defense has led it to victories against Stanford, Duke and Wisconsin. The Wildcats are building themselves quite the regular-season resume.