Wisconsin’s (4-0, 2-0) defense has been special all season coming into Saturday’s game against Northwestern (1-3, 0-2), and the Badgers offense needed all of the support it could get from the defense in a scrappy 24-15 win over Northwestern.
Matt Henningsen found the endzone again after doing so in the Badgers’ first game at South Florida. Henningsen recovered a fumble after an Eric Burrell-forced strip-sack off the edge. Henningsen is now tied for second in touchdowns on the team.
Noah Burks joined in on the defensive party when he picked off backup Northwestern quarterback, Aidan Smith, off of a tipped pass, returning it 68 yards for a score.
Those two scores were the difference in a game where the Wisconsin offense struggled to get anything going.
Northwestern had success containing star running back Jonathan Taylor in their past two meetings, holding him a combined 126 yards on 30 carries.
The Wildcats had similar success bottling up Taylor in their matchup Saturday afternoon. They were able to hold Taylor, and the entire Badger offense, in check all afternoon. .
A week after they opened up a 28-0 lead in the first half over Michigan, the Wisconsin offense only found the endzone once – which came on their first drive when Jonathan Taylor did converted on fourth down and picked up a 13-yard touchdown run.
Outside of the 10-play, 54-yard drive to open the game, the Badgers didn’t put any more points and only moved the ball for 84 more yards for the rest of the first half.
The Big Ten West defending champions and their defense continued to give the Badgers fits – it took Taylor 20 carries to surpass the 100-yard mark. That was good for five yards a carry –much lower than his 7.6 average for the season to this point.
Jack Coan, much like Taylor, could not get much going either. Jack Coan finished the day passing for only 113 yards on a 63 percent completion percentage, and threw his first interception of the year.
The win was far from pretty, but the Badgers found a way to win despite a sluggish offensive performance – an encouraging sign.