The Wisconsin Badgers improved to 3-0 on Saturday with another blowout win (49-7), this time against the Northern Illinois Huskies.
Russell Wilson was spectacular, Montee Ball and James White continued to run wild, and the defense came up with another solid performance.
Just two weeks away from their showdown with Nebraska, Wisconsin is firing on all cylinders.
Believe it or not, Russell Wilson is human.
The Badgers new quarterback suffered his first blemish of the season on Saturday when he threw an interception against the Huskies, but so what?
Interception notwithstanding, Wilson was near-perfect again, completing 72 percent of his passes for 347 yards and three scores.
Expect the Badgers’ signal caller to have a field day with FCS South Dakota next weekend.
A week after struggling to run with any consistency, James White and Montee Ball each rushed for 91 yards while combining for three scores.
Ball got a bulk of the carries (20 to White’s eight), but White made the most of his opportunities, averaging a stellar 11.4 yards per-carry.
Like Wilson, Wisconsin’s two-headed backfield monster should have no problem racking up the stats next weekend.
For the second week in a row, wide receiver Nick Toon and tight end Jacob Pedersen were spectacular.
Toon had five catches for 75 yards and a score, Pedersen hauled in two passes for 64 yards and a touchdown, and neither led the team in receiving.
Sophomore Jared Abbrederis earned that honor, with six catches for 83 yards.
Overall, another excellent game for this unit.
The Badgers' offensive line, which struggled to really establish itself last week against Oregon State, bounced back in a big way against the Huskies.
They kept Russell Wilson on his feet all game, and they consistently opened up holes for White, Ball and company.
A big part of Wisconsin's win was their ability to wear down Northern Illinois up front.
Once again, the Badgers’ defensive line was stellar against the run, allowing just 64 yards on 25 carries for a measly 2.6 average.
Chris Borland was a beast again, leading the team with 11 tackles, and despite not registering a sack, Wisconsin’s pressure up front helped hold NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish to just 164 yards passing.
Wisconsin’s linebacking corps didn’t do anything spectacular on Saturday, but they were part of a very good defensive effort overall.
Mike Taylor was solid again with five tackles, and sophomore Ethan Armstrong was credited with the Badgers’ lone sack.
All eyes were on cornerback Marcus Cromartie and the Badgers’ secondary to see how they’d respond to the loss of Devin Smith, and both delivered.
A week after torching Kansas for 315 yards and two scores, NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish was held to just 164 yards passing and no TD’s.
As for Cromartie, he was second on the team in tackles with eight, and he didn’t give up a score despite getting picked on often.
Punter Brad Nortman saw the field just once, and second-string kicker Kyle French, who has filled in all season for Phillip Welch, missed a long field goal while hitting seven-of-seven extra point attempts.
Expect the band to get more action than the kicking units next week when the Badgers’ high powered offense is matched up against an FCS opponent at home.
There were a handful of distractions coming into the game—NFL stadium, first road test, the loss of Devin Smith—and the Badgers didn’t miss a beat.
The offense continues to be unstoppable, and the defense has improved each week.
Bret Bielema’s first real test of the season is going to be keeping his team focused on South Dakota with Nebraska looming in the background.
Another week, another blowout win for a confident Wisconsin team.
The Badgers certainly have the talent to go a long way this season, and it is going to be incumbent on the team’s leadership to keep Wisconsin focused on Saturday’s, especially during trap games like their week four matchup with South Dakota.