MADISON, Wis. – A Northwestern staffer tried to hand coach Pat Fitzgerald a stat sheet during his postgame interview Saturday.
“That’s OK,” he replied. “I saw it.”
And lived it. If Wisconsin’s 35-6 victory over the 19th-ranked Wildcats wasn’t the most jarring result of the Fitzgerald era, it was close.
“I hope it gives our guys a punch right in the face,” he said. “Wakes ’em up. It’s hard to win Big Ten football games.”
And impossible when your offense takes the day off. The Wildcats (4-2, 0-2 Big Ten), who had been averaging 39 points and 474 yards a game, ran for only 44 yards and went 2-for-17 on third downs. Wisconsin recorded seven sacks against Northwestern quarterbacks Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian.
“You can kind of feel the offense on their heels. Getting really aggressive is always a good time,” said Badgers linebacker Chris Borland, who had a team-high 10 tackles. “That’s how you play defense.”
Wisconsin (4-2, 2-1) cruised despite losing top receiver Jared Abbrederis to a head injury in the first quarter. Before being sidelined, Abbrederis sprinted past safety Ibraheim Campbell for a 63-yard touchdown, the Badgers’ first of the game.
Later, Melvin Gordon did massive damage on a fly sweep that went for a 71-yard score. Gordon finished with 172 rushing yards for Wisconsin.