Oct. 8, 2013
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EVANSTON, Ill. -- Heading into enemy territory for the first time since the opening week of the season, No. 19 Northwestern visits the University of Wisconsin for a 2:30 p.m. matinee Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium. The game, which airs on ABC regionally and ESPN2 out of market, marks Northwestern's second of back-to-back cross-divisional matchups and its first tilt with the Badgers since the final game of the 2010 regular season.
It was an eventful first week of Big Ten Conference play for the Wildcats, who welcomed the crew from ESPN College GameDay to their lakefront campus before playing in front of a sold-out Ryan Field crowd. In case you missed either one, check out a video recap of GameDay's visit to Evanston as well as Sights and Sounds of the Game brought to you by Cricket Wireless:
Northwestern Game Notes
This game marks the second of back-to-back cross-divisional Big Ten matchups for Northwestern and its first tilt against the Badgers since the final game of the 2010 regular season. The Wildcats and Badgers will be seeing more of each other following the upcoming divisional realignment of the Big Ten. The two teams will meet again less than a year from now when the Badgers visit Evanston on Oct. 4, 2014, and Northwestern is slated for a return trip to Camp Randall on Nov. 21, 2015.
Northwestern and Wisconsin resume what has been an entertaining Big Ten series in recent decades, with each squad winning 11 of 22 games played since 1985. The teams are also 3-3 in the series since 2003, a stretch which includes two wins by unranked Northwestern teams over top-20 Wisconsin squads (2003, 2009).
Northwestern has not lost back-to-back games since the final two games of the 2011 season (Nov. 26 vs. Michigan State, Dec. 31 vs. Texas A&M).
QB Kain Colter is well-known for being a dual-threat with his arm and his legs, and Saturday he has a chance to become a 2,000-yard man two times over. Colter enters the game with an eerily similar 1,945 career passing yards and 1,944 career rushing yards -- moving him into 10th place on the school's career rushing list. His 9-yard TD catch vs. Ohio State also raised his career receiving total to 676 yards.
Northwestern's passing completion percentage of 72.3 ranks No. 1 in the Big Ten and No. 4 nationally.
Venric Mark was having a modest true freshman season as a reserve wideout and special teams performer in 2010--modest until the regular-season finale at Wisconsin. Mark exploded that day at Camp Randall for a Northwestern-record 273 kickoff return yards -- a total that was just 10 yards shy of the Big Ten single-game record -- while his nine kickoff returns matched the all-time conference mark. He also ran away with a 94-yard return for a touchdown, still the most recent kickoff return TD by a Wildcat. Mark's 281 all-purpose yards against the Badgers also represented a Northwestern freshman record, cracking the previous mark of 253 set by Tyrell Sutton (also against the Badgers) in 2005.
Defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz' unit last week continued their season-long trend of taking the ball away from the opposition, recording two fumble recoveries and an interception against Ohio State. Northwestern remains tied with Missouri for No. 1 in the country with 2.20 interceptions per game (11 on the year) and is the Big Ten leader in turnover margin (+1.0 per game). However, NU's defense did see several impressive streaks come to an end against OSU:
* The Buckeyes, who scored touchdowns on a blocked punt in the end zone and a recovered lateral attempt in the waning seconds of the game, were the first team to reach 40 points against NU since Syracuse scored 41 in the 2012 season-opener (16 games).
* With 248 ground yards against the Wildcats, Ohio State became the first Northwestern opponent to surpass 200 rushing yards since Nebraska on Oct. 20, 2012 (nine games).
* OSU RB Carlos Hyde was the first individual to rush for over 100 yards vs. Northwestern since Iowa's Damon Bullock on Oct. 27, 2012 (eight games).
With more prolific scoring efforts by NU to begin the season, senior and Wisconsin native Jeff Budzien has continued his climb up the school's all-time points rankings. Budzien recently became the seventh NU player ever to reach 200 career points, and he now stands alone in third on Northwestern's career points list with 227.
Budzien stands poised to potentially break a Big Ten record in the coming weeks. He owns an active streak of 125 consecutive made extra points, the second-longest streak in conference history behind only the 126 in a row by Michigan's J.D. Carlson from 1989-91. Budzien is a perfect 125-for-125 in his career, with 50 made PATs in each of the last two seasons. His 125 made PATs rank 11th among active kickers and are the most without a miss by any current kicker.
Following the offseason departure of Bret Bielama to Arkansas, Wisconsin is in its first year under the direction of head coach Gary Andersen, who arrived in Madison after four seasons leading the Utah State Aggies. He coached USU to a school-record 11 wins in 2012 and a No. 16 ranking in the final Associated Press poll.
The Badgers enter Saturday's game ranked sixth nationally in total defense (272.6 yards per game) and 10th in scoring defense (14.6 points allowed per game). Wisconsin is one of seven programs nationally to average 300 rushing yards per game this season. UW ranks No. 6 nationally and leads the Big Ten with 300.6 yards on the ground per outing. Sophomore RB Melvin Gordon is the league's individual rushing leader (139.6 yards per game).
Since 2009, the Badgers have won their last five regular-season games following a bye week, outscoring their opponents by a combined 243-44 in those games for an average score of 48.6-8.8. The Badgers are 7-2 following a loss since the beginning of the 2010 season (Wisconsin is coming off a road defeat to Ohio State on Sept. 28).
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