The Wisconsin Badgers are entering strange territory with a 2-2 start to the year in football. The Badgers were ranked 18th to start the year against Illinois State, whom they beat 38-0. Since then, the Badgers are 1-2, losing the more competitive games this year against Washington State and Ohio State.
Beating Ohio State this year was a bit of a long shot for the Badgers, but it certainly should’ve been more competitive. Braelon Allen was the offense and there needs to be more of a presence in the passing game to beat big teams. Despite the 2-2 start, the Badgers have a chance to turn around the 2022 season if they beat Illinois and Northwestern.
Why do These Games Matter?
The Badgers have beaten Illinois State and New Mexico State this year. The defense has allowed seven points in those games. Against Ohio State and Washington State, the defense allowed 69, with 52 allowed against Ohio. The team needs to get right and bounce back these next two weeks. Both Northwestern and Illinois are secretly dangerous teams the Badgers need to take seriously.
Illinois started the year off with a 38-6 win over Wyoming. After that, they lost a close 23-20 game against Indiana that they realistically should’ve won. Illinois had four fumbles and lost three, as well as one interception and it is extremely hard to win with four turnovers. The team bounced back and beat Virginia and Chattanooga the last two weeks. Now, they face the Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium and Wisconsin has a perfect chance to win against a strong opponent at home.
The Fighting Illini averaged 28.3 points per game this season along with 209 rushing yards per game. They have a fast paced offense that gets them in trouble at times. When they turnover the ball, it is on big plays that the team tries to force. If the Badgers slow down the offense, Illinois will be forced into the situations where they make the most mistakes.
Records are Deceiving
As most fans remember, Northwestern started the year off in London against Nebraska. Scott Frost and company struggled and dropped the game against a strong defense. Ultimately, the loss contributed to his firing, and Northwestern lost the next three games. The Wildcats faced Duke, Southern Illinois, and Miami (OH) in their losses, but there are plenty of takeaways from each.
How does a 1-3 team help save the Badgers’ season? Northwestern have lost three straight games all by one score. They had opportunities to win each game, but ultimately lost because long drives wore down the defense. The Wildcats offense has struggled on third down only converting 36.77% of the time this year. However, they are not afraid to go for it on fourth, converting 10-14 this year.
Northwestern will surprise teams with trick plays and odd packages. They are an energetic teams that build off of the mistakes of their opponents. On defense, they are not afraid to send pressure and aggressive blitz packages.
Well hello there, Evan Hull💨 pic.twitter.com/IqUWvI7DUd
— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 27, 2022
Evan Hull is a dangerous running back but he has been slowed down much this year. He is averaging 4.4 yards per carry this year, compared to 5.1 in 2021. He still has 370 yards, but he has struggled with fumbles this year, and when he fumbles the Wildcats switch to passing. Ryan Hilinski can run at times but he isn’t the greatest passer. When the offense is forced to do one thing, they have struggled to move the ball.
Keys to Victory against Wildcats
If the Badgers move the ball against the Wildcats’ defense they will win. Northwestern plays best as a well rounded team, but struggles when they are behind in games. As long as they are kept one dimensional, it will be a valuable Badgers’ win.