The No. 19 Northwestern took an enormous step ahead within the race for the Huge Ten Championship Sport by defeating No. 10 Wisconsin 17-7 at house on Saturday. Because the rating suggests, this was a basic Huge Ten sport. The Wildcats did not hearth up on offense averaging three.9 yards per play, however they did not have to. Their protection is what matches wins and what defensive effort they make.
Wisconsin had 17 drives over the course of 60 minutes. Just one completed on factors, and it was a six-play, 80-yard play after Northwestern’s fumble on the aim line. In any other case, no drives exceeded 42 yards. Northwestern’s protection pressured 4 triples and outs and had 5 recoveries: Three of these turnovers have been interceptions by quarterback Graham Mertz. Mertz has been glorious in his first two video games, however he regarded very rookie on the highway in opposition to the seasoned Wildcats group. Wisconsin’s 4 first-half turnovers have been essentially the most for this system since 2004, whereas the 5 turnovers general have been essentially the most for this system below coach Paul Chryst in 5 years.
This additionally marked the fourth time this yr that Northwestern’s protection shut out the opposing offense within the second half. This protection is respectable, and at 5-Zero, Pat Fitzgerald’s workforce is within the driver’s seat heading to Indianapolis for the Huge Ten Championship, the place it’s more likely to face Ohio State. With simply three video games to play in opposition to Michigan State, Minnesota and Illinois, Northwestern could possibly be topped Huge Ten West champion for the second time in three years at this price.
What did we study badgers and wildcats?
Northwestern is (gulp) a CFP contender
Say it with me and say it with feeling … “Northwestern is in search of a spot within the faculty soccer playoffs.”
Now do it once more.
Another time with feeling.
It appears loopy that a assertion like that could possibly be true. But it surely’s 2020. Down is up and ahead is again, so it is smart for the Wildcats to be CFP contenders.
Check out the remainder of your schedule. They play at Michigan State and Minnesota earlier than ending the common season at house in opposition to Illinois. Are any of these video games highlighted as attainable losses? No No with the way in which Northwestern performs protection.
Can Northwestern do the CFP? In all probability not. In spite of everything, offense is what issues most in faculty soccer, and it is unlikely that it might sustain with Ohio State or Indiana in a Huge Ten Championship Sport. However they are going to most likely enter Lucas Oil Stadium 60 minutes from the glory.
Brandon Joseph is a star
If you do not know his identify, know him. Joseph is the driving drive behind a Wildcats protection that has established itself as among the best within the nation.
The freshman from School Station, Texas, had two picks on the evening and 5 on the season. He’s solely the third participant within the Huge Ten previously 15 years with 5 or extra interceptions in his workforce’s first 5 video games of the season. Not a foul begin to your profession to say the least.
Nevertheless, it goes past that. Now that the Wildcats have the within observe of the Huge Ten Championship Sport and are deep of their pursuit of the nationwide title, they might want to more and more depend on their budding celebrity as they enter the house stretch. He first obtained a style of the large stage on Saturday and obtained large. That is an awesome signal for the way forward for the 2020 Wildcats and past.
Time to curb the Mertz hype
The Badgers’ crimson jersey freshman quarterback was the discuss of the Huge Ten earlier within the season, however he crashed to Earth in opposition to Northwestern in an enormous approach. Mertz was clearly confused by what the Wildcats have been throwing at him, forcing him to make some inexcusable errors, together with his second interception of the sport. That decide got here late within the second quarter along with his workforce driving when Joseph stood in entrance of a go to arrange a seven-play scoring drive from Northwestern.
The strain didn’t finish there. Seven down on the 23-yard line early within the fourth quarter, Mertz was sacked by Cameron Ruiz on fourth-and-6 to finish the Badgers’ finest scoring alternative within the second half. He had a receiver accessible on a scorching route, however he was completely happy and took a catch that he simply cannot absorb that scenario.
Mertz deserved the credit score he acquired in the course of the first two video games of the season. However he was certain to have some unhealthy instances. It is virtually like we have forgotten that he isn’t a seasoned veteran of his sport early within the season. This could function a studying alternative as you progress in your profession.
All goes nicely
Peyton Ramsey transferred to Northwestern after Michael Penix Jr. beat him for the beginning job at Indiana. I’d say that each one events are pleased with the outcomes.
Ramsey was a strong 23 of 44 for 203 yards, two touchdowns and, most significantly, zero interceptions. He wasn’t a distinction maker, however he did not should be in it. He dealt with this sport to perfection, which is an indication of maturity from a veteran quarterback who’s absolutely conscious of his limitations and the philosophy of his workforce.
And Penix? Oh, it is working for him too. All he did earlier than Saturday was lead the Hoosiers to the highest 10. No, it did not work in opposition to Ohio State. However Penix no less than stored him shut.
The switch portal labored for Ramsey and Penix precisely the way in which it was speculated to.
CBS Sports activities was with you the whole approach updating this story with the most recent from the sport. This story might be up to date shortly with the conclusions of Northwestern’s enormous win at Huge Ten West on Saturday.