Okay, the bye week is over. It’s time to get back in football mode. It’s another big game this weekend as the pesky Northwestern Wildcats come to town. The ‘Cats are a solid bunch and are coming off a tough loss at home to Ohio State in which Gameday made an appearance.
Let’s hop into a few things to watch this Saturday.
1) How will Northwestern handle the loss last week against the Buckeyes?
Coming off a tough loss, a team either keeps falling or uses that loss as motivation to come back hard the next week. Northwestern is very well coached, so I’m guessing it’s going to be the latter. A main thing to watch is how the Wildcats play early. Will they be over-hyped? Will they take unnecessary chances? Regardless, this is going to be a tough match-up, but a Wildcat team looking to get that dirty taste out of its mouth is a dangerous team.
2) What did Wisconsin adjust (if anything) on its break?
The Badgers are also coming off a tough loss to a Buckeye team, except that game happened two weeks ago. This is where I think the Badgers have an advantage over the Wildcats. Coach Andersen has had two weeks to prepare his team for what Northwestern has to offer, while Northwestern has had only one week to prepare for Wisconsin with the big game last week.
I don’t think we’ll see anything too different out of the Wisconsin squad, but I have faith that GA may have found a thing or two to exploit.
3) Is this the week a second receiver finally immerges?
I apologize that this shows up week after week, but, well, it’s something I really want to see. Not only will it help Abbrederis, but it will give me more faith in next year’s passing game. Yes, there is still plenty of time for someone (or hopefully two) to step-up, but life after Jared is something we are going to have to deal with. He’s been a steady rock his whole career, and without a target like him, the passing game drops dramatically.
4) Can the Badgers handle the two-quarterback system Northwestern employs?
Both Trevor Siemian and Kain Colter have their strengths and their weaknesses, and well, they are quite different quarterbacks. Siemian is someone that can beat you from the pocket as he has only rushed 18 times this year for 27 yards. He isn’t afraid to air it out, which hurts on his completion percentage, but has helped his rack up three times as many passing yards as Colter.
Colter, on the other hand, is someone that is going to run the ball quite a bit. He isn’t afraid to pass, but it’s more to keep the defense honest than to try to throw the ball downfield. Colter is the team’s second leading rusher as he has amassed 253 yards on 47 carries.
These are two completely different quarterbacks and we’ll see both this weekend. This is the main match-up that I’m glad Andersen had two weeks to prepare for.
5) Will the kicking game affect the outcome?
This always worries me in games that are predicted to be close. Jeff Budzien has been automatic from 35 yards and in for the Wildcats. He’s 9-9 in that range and 9-11 overall while making all 24 extra points.
It’s not that I don’t have faith in Kyle French, but if it comes down to a game of field position and field goals, Northwestern has an advantage here.
What French does have over Budzien though, is a stronger leg. Again, hopefully it won’t come down to a field goal, but it’s worth watching in a game that predicts to be close.
It should be another great game and means a lot to both teams. Wisconsin needs to win out and needs some help to get into the championship game, but Northwestern winning out would be enough still. Let’s hope the Badgers can pull this one off and use it as momentum for the rest of the year.
Are there things you’ll be watching for that we haven’t listed? Tell us your thoughts by leaving a comment below or by following us on Twitter.