The Badgers faced off against the Northwestern Wildcats today. While their chance to tie for the Big-10 Championship disappeared with victories by other teams, there was still the matter of which bowl game Wisconsin would play for. And unfortunately, the Badgers lost, 33-31, dropping them in the standings and likely diminishing the prestige of whatever bowl game they wind up playing for (probably the Capital One or Outback bowl… same as always).
Today’s loss can’t be put on the offense, much as I would like to put it on them. They put up 31 points against a defense that was good enough to beat Iowa. Scott Tolzien threw for 235 yards and John Clay rushed for 102 more. The offense did it’s job. It was the defense that couldn’t get it done today. O’Brien Schofield had a terrible game, recording zero sacks through the entire game. JJ Watt played a little better, but all in all I saw a defensive line that could do virtually nothing against the Wildcat Offensive line. Additionally, the cornerbacks just could not hang with the Northwestern wide receivers. There were too many instances of Wildcat receivers being open for ten yard, twenty yard gains. Andrew Brewer had a ridiculous game, catching 102 yards worth while scoring 2 touchdowns. His second TD catch put the Wildcats in the lead in the second quarter, and they never relinquished it. Every time Wisconsin would get close, would get within 1 possession, the Wildcats would do just enough to put the game a little more out of reach. Stefan Demos, the Northwestern place kicker, had a monster game, going 4/4 for field goals and 3/3 for extra points. While his kickoffs left something to be desired, he did his fair share in keeping the game just beyond the Badgers’ grasp.
Scott Tolzien had an ok game for the Badgers today. On the one hand, he had two touchdown passes. But on the other hand, he threw an interception in his final play from scrimmage. I’ve questioned over and over again whether Scott Tolzien can lead a team to victory. Well, one week after his career-best game, he floundered once again. His passing was on for most of the game, but for the one play where it mattered most, he choked and overthrew his receiver, putting the ball into the hands of the opposition. If he wants to go pro, he needs to improve his composure, because as a quarterback he will be called on to lead his team over and over again. When the running game isn’t working- and it wasn’t today, it just wasn’t- the quarterback has to step up and make plays. And while he gets a small pass due to the number of dropped balls by his wide receivers, the fact remains that with the game on the line, he just couldn’t do it.
Wisconsin lost for the third time this season today. Since Bret Bielema’s takeover of the team, the Badgers are just 5-10 on the road. While I don’t believe they were ever going to beat Iowa or Ohio State, this was a game that should have been theirs. But they came out with lackluster energy and enthusiasm, and they got beat by a Wildcats team that was far more fired up for Senior Day than Wisconsin could match. They have one more game against Hawaii, but this was a disappointing way to end their Big-10 season, no doubt about it. Oh well, at least my friend got her first guitar today, so that’s nice.