Nothing flashy in this game. In fact, flashy was traded for abysmally embarrassing. Homecoming in Evanston created a party in the stands for those proudly wearing purple. The conspicuous red that penetrated the stadium hoped to quiet the celebration. However, the teams on the field aided in conveying the monotony.
Northwestern’s opening score being a 53-yard pass completion from Bret Basanez to Jason Wright gave reason enough to rejoice. But, the extra point attempt by Joel Howells was a line drive with no lift. The ball pierced into the offensive line bouncing backwards and filling NU fans with shame. Wisconsin’s offense didn’t exactly exemplify fluency either. The Badgers were able to hobble down the field for a score assisted by the crutch of backup QB Matt Shaebert, WR Lee Evans, and backup tailback Dwayne Smith. However, that would be the only efforts of the day that reaped rewards.
Wisconsin looked awfully flat, but the Wildcats weren’t exactly a mountain of thrills themselves. The incident with the extra point earlier would have appeared innocent enough as long as it occurred only once. When Joel Howells had the opportunity to atone for his earlier mistake with a field goal attempt, he repeated the blooper instead. Another line drive aimed at the offensive line’s rumps resulted in shaking heads for the purple and wild laughter from the red. A replacement stepped in and successfully kicked a three pointer giving the Wildcats a 9-7 halftime lead and a roar of relief from Wildcat fans.
The ugliness continued in the second half. Wisconsin’s replacement kicker, Scott Campbell missed his only two attempts of the day and the Wildcats simply put the clamp down on anything the Badgers attempted. Northwestern managed to score only once more, but it was plenty for the victory. The 16-7 win proved massive for the Wildcats as it propelled them to a bowl appearance.
Wisconsin entered with their conference title hopes sustaining a pulse. Now, victories are needed just to juggle bowl position. Both Northwestern and Wisconsin have experienced ups and downs all season. I believe this game was a downer for both teams – the Wildcats just didn’t stink as badly as the Badgers. Needless to say, this is not a film that either school will be showing to allure prospective recruits.