Everyone expected that after Wisconsin settled into the sideline at Ryan Field to take on Northwestern on Saturday, that the top-25 matchup between the Badgers and the Wildcats would be a hard-fought battle.

And they were right.

However, the Northwestern defense seemed to keep the No. 10 Badgers in check for most of the game, with the No. 19 Wildcats capitalizing on mistake after mistake by the Wisconsin offense to control the action, en route to a 17-7 victory. The Badgers have dropped six of its last seven trips to Evanston.

Even though the Badgers outgained Northwestern 366-263 on the day, including a 136-24 advantage in rushing yards, the Wildcat defense was able to force five turnovers on the day – three at the hands of Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz who had two interceptions and a fumble.

Mertz commented on what wasn’t working for Wisconsin against the Wildcats.

“For us, it was really the passing game today,” Mertz said of what didn’t work for the Badgers. “It was just working through progression and really seeing the field. Northwestern’s a great, veteran defense. … They knew what was coming with our progressions, so obviously there was some I’d love to get back, but now it’s just taking them as a learning experience and growing from it.”

UW will need some help if they hope to have a chance at winning the Big Ten West, but it all starts with a home date against Minnesota next week.

“I’m excited to see where this team takes the next step,” Mertz said. “It’s going to be a great team from this point on. We’re going to learn from it tomorrow, we’re going to flush it, and we’re going to keep the Axe.”

Kickoff between Wisconsin and Minnesota is scheduled for 1:00 PM on Saturday, Nov. 28 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, WI.