Wisconsin vs. Northwestern: Staff predictions

·3 min read

The Wisconsin Badgers have a shot at extending their win streak to six when the Northwestern Wildcats come to town on Saturday.

The game will feature somewhat of a new-look backfield for the Badgers, as starting running back Chez Mellusi will miss the remainder of the season. Expect to see a heavy dose of freshman Braelon Allen, followed by some combination of Julius Davis, Jackson Acker and Brady Schipper.

Related: Five keys to a Wisconsin victory over Northwestern

Saturday gives Wisconsin a chance to both get back on the winning end against Pat Fitzgerald’s team after it fell to the Wildcats last season in Evanston. More importantly, Wisconsin would inch one game closer to a Big Ten West title with a win on Saturday—then with showdowns looming against Nebraska and Minnesota to finish out the season.

Here are BadgersWire’s official staff predictions for the contest:

Ben Kenney

Nov 6, 2021; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) shields away Rutgers Scarlet Knights linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi (3) during a run during the second half at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

To me, this game got a bit more interesting with the news that Wisconsin RB Chez Mellusi will miss the remainder of the season. Wisconsin ran its way to a five-game win streak thanks in part to a dominant rushing attack (yes, and the nation’s second-best defense).

When Wisconsin dominates on the ground, Graham Mertz plays a lot better and Wisconsin wins football games. When it does not, Mertz has struggled with turnovers and the Badgers have lost. It’s a simple way to describe a complex issue, but it’s been the case throughout the last two seasons.

Luckily, this is not your typical Northwestern rush defense. Wisconsin should still have enough success to make things easy for Mertz and complement the defense.

So I see Wisconsin winning comfortably, which is somehow still not a cover. The impact of Mellusi’s injury will be seen, just not quite as much on Saturday.

Prediction: Wisconsin 24, Northwestern 6

Asher Low

Oct 30, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) drops back to pass during the third quarter against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Camp Randall Stadium. Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin is not going to lose this football game, but 24.5 points is a massive spread to cover.

The Badgers running back room is an interesting question, but one that I don’t think will cause issues. With Chez Mellusi out for the season, Wisconsin turns to Julius Davis behind freshman sensation Braelon Allen, and I think gets enough production to be just fine.

Northwestern’s offense has been abysmal, but QB Andrew Marty’s legs, if he is in fact under center all afternoon, could create something for the Wildcats. Evan Hull has run the ball well, but it’s a one-dimensional offense that hasn’t figured out the quarterback position against this Wisconsin defense. Yikes.

Wisconsin likely won’t have the same level of turnover success setting them up in the red zone the way they did against Rutgers, but expect the Badgers to relatively cruise.

Prediction: Wisconsin 31, Northwestern 7

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