2010 Wisconsin Badgerrs Football

 
Big Ten football fans

Wisconsin Badgers vs Northwestern Wildcats Football Preview

 

 

Oh, boy: Get ready to fire up the Bret Bielema internet chat rooms and message boards once again. This Saturday in Madison, Wisconsin, expect another very big number to be posted by the coach everyone else in the Big Ten Conference loves to hate.

Yes, the seventh-ranked Wisconsin Badgers could clinch the Big Ten championship and a Rose Bowl berth with a win over the Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin is the highest-ranked Big Ten team in the BCS standings, which would give them the tiebreaker over Ohio State and Michigan State when the Big Ten’s automatic BCS bid is awarded. This fact will definitely influence the way this game is handled, particularly by the boss Badger who has rankled a lot of opponents in the Big Ten this year.

Bielema is clearly the most loathed coach in the Big Ten right now. If Michigan’s Rich Rodriguez could win consistently, he’d probably compete with Bielema for the top spot, but at the present time, it’s not close. Bielema went for a 2-point conversion several weeks ago when leading Minnesota 41-16 late in the fourth quarter. Earlier this month, Bielema threw a long pass in the fourth quarter when his team was leading Indiana by a 69-13 score. Bielema isn’t coaching to make friends; he’s doing what the BCS says he should do: Impress pollsters and gain publicity with eye-popping results. It’s no accident that Wisconsin has a one-spot lead over Ohio State, and since this is the final regular-season weekend for all Big Ten teams (next year begins the new era of a league championship game in December), Bielema will almost surely try to hang another huge number on Northwestern.

 



 

The Badgers, who have won six in a row, won 48-28 at Michigan last week.  Backup running backs James White and Montee Ball combined for 354 yards rushing and six touchdowns filling in for the injured John Clay.  The Badgers rolled up 558 yards of total offense and enjoyed a 37-to-23-minute edge in time of possession.  Wisconsin led 24-0 at halftime.

The Wildcats lost 48-27 to Illinois at Wrigley Field last week.  In their first game since losing starting quarterback Dan Persa with a ruptured Achilles tendon, the Wildcats’ offense struggled.  Replacement signal caller Evan Watkins completed 10 of 20 passes for 135 yards and an interception. Northwestern was even worse defensively.  Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure had 330 yards rushing, the best performance in FBS this season.

 

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The Wildcats are still 7-4, though, and an upset could greatly improve their bowl standing.  The Wildcats are 6-5 against the Badgers since 1995, and have played a spoiler role several times, including wins over previously unbeaten Wisconsin teams in 2000 and 2005.  Northwestern won last year’s matchup 33-31 at Ryan Field in Evanston. Plainly put, history says not to count Northwestern out. 

History, though, probably won’t stand a chance against Bret Bielema on a day when Wisconsin needs style points in addition to a simple victory.

 


By: Matt Zemek
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer