Despite the freezing temperatures in Madison, the No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers (7-3, 5-2 Big Ten) continue to stay hot with a 35-7 victory over Big Ten rival Northwestern University (3-7, 1-6).
With Braelon Allen leading the way, rushing for 173 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries, the Badgers are finally starting to take form.
The offense looks incredibly sharp, from Graham Mertz making smart and accurate throws — 18/23, 216 yards and two touchdowns — to almost every running back on the roster finding the right holes within the O-line. The Badger’s defense was an absolute no-fly-zone, snagging four interceptions on the day and being led by stud linebacker Leo Chenal’s nine tackles and one sack.
With both sides of the ball clicking, Wisconsin is starting to look like the No. 12 team in the country they were projected to be.
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In their first game without star running back Chez Mellusi, up-and-coming sensation Allen got the backfield all to himself for the first time in his young career — it’s safe to say he seized the opportunity.
He was absolutely unstoppable all day, finding the open gaps, breaking tackles and ultimately gaining almost seven yards per carry. His three touchdowns are the most by a Badger running back all season. With Mellusi missing the remainder of the year, Allen is defined for more games like this.
Having such a strong backfield must be a nice feeling for Mertz.
Over the last two games, Mertz looks like an entirely new quarterback from the beginning of the season. He looks much more polished and comfortable in the pocket, and he’s doing a much better job of making sure the Badgers don’t turn over the football.
Over his last two games, Mertz has compiled 456 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. Though not Heisman candidate numbers, this kind of production is exactly what the Badgers need.
With a dominant effort over Northwestern, expect Wisconsin and Mertz to keep the ball rolling as the season churns on.
On the flip side, the Badgers defense terrorized Northwestern quarterback Andrew Marty.
They picked him off three times, sacked him another three and eventually got him benched for backup quarterback, and former starter, Ryan Hillinski. Hillinski didn’t provide any saving grace for the Wildcats, going 3/8 with 25 yards and another interception.
This unit looks to keep getting better and better — their elite linebacking core, known as “Death Row,” is certainly living up to its name. Linebackers Jack Sanborn, Chenal and Nick Herbig combined for seven tackles for losses and wreaked havoc on Northwestern’s o-line all day.
This hard-hitting core is sure to cause problems in the remaining games of the season.
This win leaves Wisconsin fans feeling incredible and optimistic. Keeping the hot streak going and showing consistent improvement from week to week, the Badgers are finally the team they were expected to be.
If Wisconsin can keep it up and win their next two games we should all get ready to crown them Big Ten West champions.