Northwestern vs. #7 Wisconsin: Brutally Honest Game Preview

NU Cats

Northwestern has certainly been a thorn in the Wisconsin Badgers paw. Since 1995, (year one in the contemporary history of NU football:

"In the BEGINNING...there was the 1995 Rose Bowl Wildcats") the Cats
are 6-5 versus the Sconnies, and that really says something, because
Badger football has been rather dominant during the past decade and a
half. Coincidentally, it was also in the mid '90s (the Darrell
Bevell/Terrell Fletcher era) that the Badgers began their rise as a
program.

Randy Walker's Wildcats handed then-No. 7 UW its first loss of the
2000 season, a 47-44 2 OT barn-burner. That team tied for the Big Ten title and installed the spread as the offense for the new millenium in Evanston.

In '05, UW was 5-0 and ranked #14 before suffering a wild,
51-48 loss in Evanston.

Last season's 33-31 loss denied UW a share of second place and
dropped the Badgers out of the running for a New Year's Day Bowl.
Therefore, the Badgers will be extremely 1.) motivated 2.) wary

JOHN CLAY

Wisconsin Synopsis: UW enters the final week of Big Ten play in a three-way tie with Michigan State (10-1, 6-1) and Ohio State
(10-1, 6-1) for first place in the league and No. 7 in the BCS
standings, in excellent position to secure a Rose Bowl berth with a
victory. It would be the 12th Big Ten title in school history and first
since 1999. The Badgers would also notch a school-record seventh
conference win for the fourth time in school history (1998, 1999 and
2006 are the others).

LT Gabe Carimi (Outland Trophy), RB John Clay (Doak Walker Award), TE Lance Kendricks (Mackey Award), QB Scott Tolzien (Unitas Golden Arm Award) and DE J.J. Watt (Lott IMPACT Trophy) are all finalists or semifinalists for major individual awards. Check out the UW web page for Badgers honors candidates.

By the way, this may be the first game in college football
history where both teams have a starting defensive end named Watt. And
that's a pretty great name for a defensive end because a Watt is a unit
or measurement of kinetic energy or power.


Northwestern (7-3, 3-3) Synopsis:

Both above and below this column entry, you'll see some YouTube
videos I shot on the field after NU beat UW last year. And yes those
videos have annotations! After last year's meeting, Northwestern went on
to play in the Outback Bowl but suffered a 38-35 overtime loss to
unranked Auburn. The Tigers seem to be doing alright for themselves
since then eh? Well at least until Cam Newton gets ruled ineligible.

In their bowl game, UW recorded a 20-14 upset of No. 14 Miami in the
Champs Sports Bowl, a victory that gave the Badgers a 10-3 mark and
some momentum heading into this season. That is if you believe in such
things.

Prior to last Saturday's game vs. Illinois, Northwestern had either
led or been tied in the second half of 26 straight games dating to
November 2008.

Northwestern is facing a red-hot offense in Wisconsin, which has
scored 30 or more points in each of its last six games, all Badger
victories. In its last two contests, Wisconsin has scored a combined
131 points.

After this Saturday's regular-season finale, the Wildcats will take a
majority of next week off before finding out their postseason bowl
destination on Sunday, Dec. 5. Northwestern will hold a news conference
that day (time TBA) once the bowl site and opponent is determined.

Where is NU possibly going this year? Check here to find out.


Guys you'll see Saturday eventually playing on Sundays:

On the Wildcats, LB Quentin Davie and superback (tight end/fullback hybrid) Drake Dunsmore

On the Badgers, OT Gabe Carimi could be a top ten pick, and C/G Jon Moffitt may join him in the first round. TE Lance Kendricks, Safety Jay Valai has nfl/">NFL talent, bu may have to move over to corner to realize his potential.

Clay will be a next level guy if he can get/keep his weight down.

Prediction to be taken with a grain of salt (actually make that a whole truckload of salt):

UW 56, NU 21, (Banks' 2010 record 15-8)

The Cats gave up 48 to Illinois, and now they face a Wisconsin team
which has been averaging approximately a hundred points a game the past
few weeks. This average is of course skewed by the one kajillion points
they hung on the Indiana Hoosiers. Fitz's teams do get better as the season goes longer, especially on the road.

However, this is the toughest test they'll face all season, and
they'll do it without their MVP Dan Persa. As much as they missed him
last week in the Wrigleyville Classic, they possibly missed LB Bryce
McNaul even more. Illini RB Mikel Leshoure gashed them for a school record in rushing yards. Now they must face the three-headed monster of James White, John Clay and Montee Ball who have combined for 2,510 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns. All three running backs have scored 13 TD's apiece.

Good luck with that!

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest webzine. He's also a regular contributor to the Tribune's Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

He also does a regular guest spot each week for Chicagoland Sports Radio.com

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    Paul M. Banks

    Fulbright scholar in media studies, MBA, small media business owner, Published author, Founder of The Sports Bank.net, a Fox Sports affiliate Member: Society of Professional Journalists, Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Former political writer for Washington Times.com, NBC Chicago.com and numerous business journals Credentialed for: United Nations, Rose Bowl, BCS National Championship, Final Four, Stanley Cup Finals, and NBA Playoffs. Been featured on: Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports Live, The History Channel, CBS and ESPN radio. Does weekly segments for NBC and Fox Sports Radio stations across the nation.

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