Game 58: Northwestern @ #6 Wisconsin

Wisconsin has played its first four games at home and all of them have been plagued by crippling suspensions resulting from Badger players receiving free gifts from a local shoe store. Up to now, Wisconsin has hobbled through the first three games undefeated by the slimmest of margins escaping Western Michigan, Oregon, and in overtime, Cincinnati.

Still missing some major players, Wisconsin has one more game to fight through before they return to full strength. Knowing of Northwestern’s slump the past few years, Badger fans harbor strong confidence that Wisconsin will prevail. However, the Wildcats own a lethal offense that makes victims out of unprepared opponents.

Today, only the splatters of purple that dotted the stadium would have guessed that the Badgers would struggle. Wisconsin led most of the game until late when it became a battle between tailbacks Damien Anderson for NU and Michael Bennett for UW. They exchanged long touchdown runs, which sent emotional ripples through the stadium. With the game tied at 31, the Badgers set up for a long field goal that kicker Vitaly Pisetsky successfully nailed giving Wisconsin a 3 point lead with 51 seconds remaining.

However, Northwestern plays the two-minute offense throughout the full sixty minutes. Getting down to field goal range was as easy as having Hulk Hogan open a pickle jar. Wildcat kicker Tim Long knocked through a 46 yarder on the final play of regulation. De ja vu? Last week, Cincinnati tied the game in the same fashion on the same side of the field.

Unfortunately for the Badgers, that is where the familiarity would cease. The game reached double overtime where Wisconsin only managed a field goal. Northwestern’s possession concluded with Damien Anderson slicing around the edge for a touchdown hitting the breaks on this game and on Wisconsin’s undefeated journey. Every pin that dropped in a three mile radius could be heard. Fans stared at the field where a wave of purple collected in the endzone celebrating the shocking victory.

Painfully, it was the same area of the field where Wisconsin celebrated their overtime victory a week earlier. A friend of mine who used to go to Badger games with me, but now attended Northwestern, showed up in purple causing a small rivalry to break out between us. The rivalry between the Badgers and Wildcats has grown intensely due to these heart-halting outcomes. Wisconsin came just yards short of sliding through suspension land unbeaten. They would have to regroup quickly for their trip to Michigan. On the purple side, the Wildcats were bound to prove that their victory was far from flukish as they took their upset tour to Michigan State…

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