Wisconsin-Northwestern: Badgers Are In for a Fight

Sam OlesonCorrespondent INovember 18, 2009

EVANSTON, IL - OCTOBER 31: Gerald Hodges #6 of the Northwestern Wildcats celebrates tackling Lee Coleman #2 of the Penn State Nittany Lions at Ryan Field on October 31, 2009 in Evanston, Illinois. Penn State defeated Northwestern 34-13. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

If recent history is any indicator, Wisconsin better be prepared when they take on Northwestern Saturday afternoon.

It's been two years since the Badgers and Wildcats last played and I'm sure there are no complaints from either Wisconsin players or fans.

Northwestern has traditionally been one of the weaker teams in the Big Ten, but if there is any team that gives the Badgers more headaches in a "should-win" game, I'd like to hear it.

The last time Wisconsin played Northwestern, they trounced them 41-9 en route to a 12-1 record.

However, their meetings before that weren't so lopsided.

In 2005, after starting out the season 5-0, Wisconsin marched into Ryan Field brimming with confidence and expecting a sixth win in a row.

Final score: Northwestern 51, Wisconsin 48.

In fact, since their last Rose Bowl win in the 1999-2000 season, Wisconsin is only 3-3 against Northwestern.

Their record against the rest of the Big Ten? 47-35.

This year should prove no different. Sure, Wisconsin is 8-2, but Northwestern is 7-4 themselves.

Northwestern is never an easy win for the Badgers even when the Wildcats are in the Big Ten cellar.

This year, Northwestern is in the top half of the Big Ten and just beat the national championship-hopeful Iowa Hawkeyes in Iowa City.

Behind the arm of Mike Kafka, the Wildcats have flourished on offense this year, averaging close to 25 points per game.

For a defense as shaky as the Wisconsin's, this is bad news.

I'd like to say that the buzz around the UW campus is full of the same kind of anxiety that I'm feeling, but that's not the case.

For students, the last home game of the year essentially means the end of football talk.

Unless the Badgers are having an extraordinarily good year, this is the time of year when students start to worry more about schoolwork and finals than football.

Wisconsin-Northwestern isn't a sexy match-up by any means and it seems as though students are viewing the match-up as a footnote rather than a game that has serious bowl implications for the Badgers.

Based on recent history, let's hope Wisconsin doesn't see it the same way.