Oct. 12, 2013
BY MIKE LUCAS
After turning off the microphone from his work with the Badger Sports Network, UWBadgers.com Insider Mike Lucas offers his take on the Badgers’ 35-6 win over No. 19 Northwestern.
PLAY OF THE GAME
After Northwestern had taken a 3-0 lead, converting points off a Jared Abbrederis fumble, the teams traded punts as both offenses struggled to find some rhythm and consistency.
On first-and-10 from the UW 37, Abbrederis lined up on the right hash. On the snap, the Northwestern cornerback feigned a blitz, which had no impact on Abbrederis’s route.
Sprinting down the hash, he split the two safeties, Ibraheim Campbell and Traveon Henry, both of whom appeared to be caught flat-footed. Speed will do that.
Joel Stave stepped into a pass -- a throw that he was having trouble making early in the season -- and Abbrederis made a nice adjustment on the ball looking back into the sun.
Campbell and Henry were so far out of position that had no chance to make disrupt Abbrederis’ focus as he hauled in the pass, righted himself and scored his 21st career receiving touchdown.
It was huge play because it forced the Wildcats to play catch-up the rest of the game.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Melvin Gordon’s numbers weren’t terrible at Ohio State -- 15 carries for 74 yards in three quarters of work. But his 4.9 yards per rush average was well under what he had been producing.
Leading up to Saturday’s game, Gordon talked about getting his “home run’’ swing back.
On a second quarter jet sweep, he kept his word by racing 71 yards for a touchdown. Once he turned the corner untouched, he simply outran tackling angles. Speed will do that.
Gordon finished with a career-high 22 rushes for 172 yards, many coming after contact. Gordon also caught his first pass of the season, posing another potential issue for defenses.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
The Wildcats had scored at least 30 points in seven straight games. Moreover, they had scored at least 21 points in 19 straight dating back to the 2011 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.
Their only points Saturday, two field goals, came off turnovers.
The Badgers stoned their offense, especially on third down, forcing multiple three-and-outs, which was very uncharacteristic of the Northwestern attack.
Without Kain Colter and Venric Mark, the Cats could not execute their zone read game. That put more pressure on quarterback Trevor Siemian to make plays and he couldn’t do it, not under siege.
Few teams have abused Northwestern’s offense to the extent that the Badgers did, all while collecting seven sacks and numerous hurries and knockdowns.
The word out of Evanston was that the Wildcats were more than capable of handling the disappointment from their Ohio State loss because they had done so last season.
After losing a heartbreaking overtime game to Michigan in 2012, the Cats bounced back the following Saturday to shock Michigan State in East Lansing. So that was their mindset coming into Madison
The Badgers had other thoughts and rebounded from their own disappointing loss to the Buckeyes.
So much for statistics about takeaways.
Wisconsin routed Northwestern despite being guilty of three turnovers, four if you count a missed field goal. The Homecoming crowd could not have been more appreciative. Success will do that.