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October 12, 2013

Quick hitters: UW 35 NU 6

MADISON, Wis.-Northwestern managed to erase any positives from last week's narrow loss to Ohio State with an ugly 35-6 loss to the Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday.

Here are some quick hitters from WildcatReport:



Game ball: Brandon Williams. Naming a punter the player of the game tells you all you need to know about what kind of game it was for Northwestern. Williams went into the game with 18 punts over the first five games of the season; he booted it 11 times for 414 yards against the Badgers as the Northwestern offense came up with its worst performance since perhaps the loss to Army in 2011. Williams may have to ice his leg after this one.



Offensive MVP: Jeff Budzien. Again, it's a kicker that gets the award. Budzien may have been the only bright spot on an otherwise dismal afternoon for the Wildcat offense. The Lou Groza Award finalist was 2-for-2 on field goals, with a 27- and 43-yarder to his credit. Yes, they were chip shots, but we'll take what we can get.



Offensive big play: It wasn't difficult to find Northwestern's biggest play of the game: a 46-yard pass from Trevor Siemian to Rashad Lawrence down the sideline on the Wildcats' last drive of the first half. The play set up a 43-yard Budzien field goal and was Northwestern's longest play of the game by 31 yards.



Series of the day: There were a lot of candidates, but maybe the most gruesome came in the second quarter. After taking over at the NU 14-yard line, Siemian was sacked on first down and Wisconsin declined a holding call on the Wildcats. On second down, Siemian was again sacked and another holding call against the Cats was declined. Then, on third down, he sailed an incomplete pass to Dan Vitale. It ended with, you guessed it, a Williams punt from his own 9-yard line.



Defensive MVP: Ibraheim Campbell finished with nine tackles, a sack and the most impressive Northwestern turnover, a tiptoeing interception of a Joel Stave pass that bounced off of Jared Abbrederis. It was Campbell's fourth pick of the year and a candle in the abyss of missed tackles that was Northwestern's defense. Amazingly, the Wildcats came up with three turnovers in the first half yet still trailed 28-6.



Defensive big play: After Kain Colter threw an interception on Northwestern's first possession of the game, Damien Proby hit Abbrederis two plays later and forced a fumble that was picked up by Chi Chi Ariguzo at the Wisconsin 39. Northwestern drove down to the Wisconsin 4 before Budzien hit a 27-yard field goal to give the Wildcats their only lead of the day, 3-0.



Turning point: This one was over early, but Melvin Gordon's 71-yard touchdown run in the second quarter may have been the nail in the Wildcats' coffin. He took the ball on a jet sweep, turned the corner and was gone down the sideline. He was tackled near the goal line, but a review showed the ball had crossed the plane. That made the score 21-3 Badgers and started the onslaught.



Stat of the game: Boy, take your pick. Maybe the most bothersome number was zero. That is how many touchdowns the Wildcats scored. They were held out of the end zone for the first time since a 17-3 loss to Michigan in 2006, Pat Fitzgerald's first season as head coach. Runners up: The Wildcats ran the ball 24 times for 46 net yards against the Badgers (including seven sacks for -35 yards) and managed just two first downs in the entire second half.



Unsung hero: Jimmy Hall made the most of extensive playing time in Northwestern's nickel package. The redshirt junior came up with an interception and also saved -- okay, well delayed -- a touchdown by making a shoestring tackle of James White after the tailback had broken free into the secondary.



Atmosphere: Wisconsin's famous Jump Around at the start of the fourth quarter lived up to the hype. The Camp Randall Stadium press box swayed back-and-forth like a boat on Lake Michigan as the students -- and the rest of the stadium -- bounced to the beat.



More game coverage to come from WildcatReport…



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