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Key matchups to watch vs. Northwestern

Wisconsin Football - Northwestern Wildcats

MADISON, WI – SEPTEMBER 30: Jonathan Taylor (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

The three matchups that will decide the outcome when Wisconsin football takes on the Northwestern Wildcats.

It was business, as usual, this past weekend for Wisconsin football who dominated Illinois from start to finish.  It was not a flawless performance by any means, but Wisconsin showed why it was the much better team early and often.  Wisconsin needed a bounce-back game and that is exactly what they got this past Saturday.

From the very first snap, it was apparent that the Badgers were going to establish the run against an Illinois rush defense.  Despite Illinois’ constant attempts to load the box and force Wisconsin to throw, they found little success in slowing down the running game.

In what has become a constant theme for Alex Hornibrook this season, he turned in another up and down performance.  He had some of the most impressive throws I have seen from him in his career, including the deep touchdown pass to Jake Ferguson.

Despite a couple of missed tackles that resulted in big plays for Illinois, I believe the defense was quite good.  They were very opportunistic forcing five turnovers in the first half including a couple of interceptions and fumbles that were most likely influenced by the snow shower.

Northwestern is coming off a less than impressive 18-15 win against a poor Rutgers team.  In a game that most would think they would dominate, the Wildcats struggled to throw the ball consistently and allowed the Scarlet Knights to hang around.  Northwestern is one of the streakiest teams in the country.  It appears that they are a team that could compete with just about any team in the but could also lose to anyone.  Which Northwestern team Wisconsin will see this Saturday is anyone’s guess.

The Wildcats feature an offense that is entirely reliant on the passing game.  They have one of the worst rushing offenses in terms of yardage and it does not take much to see why.  The offense will go as far as quarterback Clayton Thorson will take it.

On defense, the Wildcats are nothing special.  They are by no means a bad unit but they lack explosive defenders outside of inside linebacker Paddy Fisher.  They are just about average in defending the pass and stopping the run so far this Big Ten season, ranking 53rd in total defense.  Wisconsin should be able to find success against the Northwestern defense.

Here are the most important matchups between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Northwestern Wildcats.

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