Five Takeaways From Wisconsin’s 31-17 Loss At Northwestern

Five Takeaways From Wisconsin’s 31-17 Loss At Northwestern

Football

Five Takeaways From Wisconsin’s 31-17 Loss At Northwestern

1, Slow Start to Jack Coan Era

After it was announced that junior quarterback Alex Hornibrook would miss Saturday’s game due to a concussion, many Badgers fans were excited to see a new look at quarterback with Jack Coan. It didn’t go as many would have hoped. The passing game was conservative and largely ineffective in Coan’s first game of the season and his first start. Coan completed 20 of his 31 pass attempts for 158 yards and a meaningless fourth-quarter touchdown. He rarely took chances downfield in a game where Wisconsin desperately needed a big play and misfired on open looks, including an open Jake Ferguson in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter. His most memorable completion was a batted ball to himself, which went for minus-4.

2, Jonathan Taylor Fumbling Problems Back

Just when most Badger fans thought Taylor had gotten the fumbling issues he has battled in his career, the sophomore lost his ninth and 10th fumble since the start of last season, the most lost fumbles in that span in the FBS by a non-quarterback. The first fumble was the case of not getting the handoff clean from Coan while the second one was jarred loose by linebacker Paddy Fisher. Both of his turnovers led to 10 points for the Wildcats.

The second fumble was Taylor’s only carry of the second half, as he finished with 10 carries for 38 yards to mark the first time all season he hadn’t broken the century mark on the ground.

3, Defense Played Well Enough to Win

Even through injuries, the Badger defense was resilient throughout the game. The score tells a different story then what the game did, as 17 points came off turnovers and a short field for Northwestern. The Badgers registered three interceptions, giving them a total of eight in the last two games. UW continues to be ravaged with injuries, missing four starters at kickoff, but held Northwestern to only 167 passing yards. Ryan Connelly (14), T.J. Edwards (13) and Evan Bondoc (eight, one INT) filled the stat sheet, but the group got almost no help from its offense and special teams.

4, No Margin for Error

Considering all the injuries on both units, Wisconsin needed to play close to perfect to win on the road in arguably its least favorite venue. Three lost fumbles and a roughing the punter penalty that extended a touchdown drive was far from perfect. UW has lost five of its last six meetings at Ryan Field and this loss can be chalked up to all kinds of miscues and lack of rhythm.

5, Wisconsin No Longer Controls Big Ten Fate

With the loss to Northwestern, Wisconsin no longer controls its fate in the Big Ten West, a surprising development for the nation’s preseason No.4 team and a program that entered the day 24-3 (.889) against Big Ten West opponents. Northwestern and Iowa each control its own path to Indianapolis (the two play each other in Iowa November 10) and the Badgers will need at least one Iowa loss and two Northwestern losses to have any chance of getting to Indy for the Big Ten championship.

 

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