MADISON, Wisc. – Ninth-ranked Wisconsin looks to continue its sizzling start to the season when it hosts Northwestern on Saturday. The Badgers shut out South Florida (49-0) and Central Michigan (61-0) in non-conference play before trouncing No. 20 Michigan 35-14 in their Big Ten opener to climb into the Top 10 and hope to continue their upward trajectory by avenging a 31-17 loss to the Wildcats last season.
TV: Noon ET, ABC. LINE: Wisconsin -24.
"We just focus on ourselves and play as well as we possibly can," Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan told reporters. "We know who we are as a team and we believe in each other, so that's all that matters." Northwestern is heading in the wrong direction following a 31-10 home loss to Michigan State in Week 4. The defending Big Ten West Division champions had won eight straight games against conference rivals dating back to last season but were limited to 10 or fewer points for the second time in three contests in 2019, although they hope to turn their fortunes around by knocking off a Top 10 opponent for the first time since 2011. "Right now, especially on offense, we have a couple of guys that are squeezing the bat a little too hard right now," Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald told reporters. "We've got to coach better and we've got to play better."
ABOUT NORTHWESTERN (1-2)
Hunter Johnson was limited to 88 yards on 15-of-26 passing with an interception before he was pulled in favor of Aidan Smith, who threw two picks in the loss to Michigan State. Drake Anderson led the way with 91 yards and a touchdown, while defensive end Joe Gaziano recorded a sack against the Spartans to move into a second-place tie with Ifeadi Odenigbo (23.5) on the program's all-time list. Johnson is expected to get the start on Saturday despite his early-season struggles, while cornerback and senior captain Trae Williams will miss the upcoming game with an unspecified issue.
ABOUT WISCONSIN (3-0)
Jonathan Taylor was named the Maxwell Award National Player of the Week after he racked up 203 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the big win over Michigan. Jack Coan completed 13-of-16 passes for 128 yards and added two rushing touchdowns to improve to 5-2 as the starter while extending Wisconsin's home winning streak to five games in the rivalry with the Wolverines. Starting safeties Reggie Pearson and Eric Burrell will both miss the first half of Saturday's game after they were ejected for targeting, while nose tackle Bryson Williams is questionable after missing the previous contest with a leg injury.
1. Wisconsin has outscored its first three opponents 145-14.
2. Northwestern has won 15 of its last 17 Big Ten games.
3. Taylor has rushed for 200 or more yards nine times in his career.
PREDICTION: Wisconsin 42, Northwestern 17