Ryan Field Demons Haunt the Badgers Yet Again in Loss to Northwestern
Ryan Field is a place of horrors for Wisconsin. It has been for years. Wisconsin has one win there in the last seven tries. They do not like playing at this small stadium in the Chicago suburbs. Northwestern enjoys it though. This game was a statement in a couple of ways. One, it is a statement win for Northwestern who is back to being good after a few tough years which is sort of their standard. Two, it is a statement loss for Wisconsin in the sense that it level sets the expectations for this football team the rest of the way.
Player of the Game: Brandon Joseph – Northwestern has some studs on defense. As Packers fans, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. But Brandon Joseph is going to be a star by the end of the year. He had two interceptions and seven tackles in this game. He frustrated Graham Mertz all game long. Joseph is making a name for himself as a top player in the secondary.
Honorable Mention: Jalen Berger – Paul Chryst needs to face facts and realize that Jalen Berger is that dude. We have seen this before. A talented freshman running back takes over the starting position. Jonathan Taylor did it. Montee Ball did it too. Ron Dayne did it. I’m not ready to put Berger with those dudes just yet, but you can tell he’s a star. With Berger and Mertz, the future will be very bright for Wisconsin’s offense.
One Thing I Liked: Badgers run defense is legit – Yes, this game did not work out well for Wisconsin. At least, they saw their defense show its teeth still. They only allowed 17 points. Most times that will win you a football game. It didn’t this week. Badgers’ defense has allowed 7, 11, and 17 points this season. No one can run the football on Wisconsin. It’s too bad the inexperience of Wisconsin’s offense showed through.
One Thing I Didn’t Like: The two first-half interceptions changed the game – To me, this is the biggest what-if of Saturday. If Mertz doesn’t throw both picks, does Wisconsin have a field goal or touchdown by halftime? And does Northwestern only have seven points on the board? It’s very possible. That changed the complexion of the game.
Next up: Wisconsin heads home to play Minnesota for the right to have Paul Bunyan’s Axe this season. Wisconsin will try to keep the axe after a dominating win last season. Minnesota got their first win of the year in a controversial fashion. This will be the best offense Wisconsin has faced this year, but the defense of Minnesota’s might be the worst.