(18) Wisconsin 35, Northwestern 7: 2-minute drill

MADISON — No. 18 Wisconsin used its balanced offense and havoc-causing defense to roll past Northwestern 35-7 on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.

Game Balls

Offense: Braelon Allen

Getting his first ever start, the freshman delivered the best performance of his young career against the Wildcats. In just three quarters of work, Allen had 25 carries for 173 yards and three touchdowns. He was at his best on his last score, bouncing off three Northwestern players and going in from 33 yards out.

Allen has now run for 785 yards (7.4 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns in the last six games. He has topped the century mark in each of them, which is the most consecutive games over 100 yards by a freshman since Anthony Davis also had six in 2001.

Defense: Leo Chenal, Jack Sanborn

Wisconsin’s inside linebackers have been the best players on one of the best defenses in the country and were the standouts again on Saturday. The duo combined for 24 tackles, six tackles for loss and a sack. Northwestern’s Evan Hull came into the game averaging 6.2 yards per carry but managed just 21 yards on 12 carries (1.8 ypc) against the Badgers.

Save for a fluke 68-yard run, 49 of which came after a fumble, the Wisconsin defense held the Wildcats running game to 46 yards on 33 carries. And if not for another touchdown off a turnover by their offense, the Badgers would have had their third shutout of the season.

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What They Said

Several of Wisconsin’s players were in their first years with Wisconsin when Jonathan Taylor had his dominant true freshman season in 2017, running for 1,977 yards. Allen will not approach that total — he’s got 834 yards — but he’s putting together a remarkable season of his own and doing so at just 17 years old. A number of players were asked if they see any similarities between the two backs.

TE Jack Ferguson: “There’s a couple times I’m blocking like, oh, this play is over. There is no way. And he’ll bounce it out and go for another 20. That is a little JT-like where you think the play is over and he’s still going.”

LT Tyler Beach: “I don’t want to compare Braelon to JT just because they’re two different guys. But the one comparative thing is they’re both pretty damn good backs. You see them do some stuff that is very out of the ordinary for running backs to do. I remember a play today where I thought (Allen) is about to get tackled and he’s spinning out of some crazy tackles. I thought Braelon did a great job, and he impresses me every day.”

WR Danny Davis: “Of course they are different people but yeah, for sure, I see similarities no doubt. They both run hard as hell and left it all on the field. I think that one touchdown (Allen) had today I definitely saw a little glimpse of JT in that one. I love the way (Allen) has worked throughout these weeks. I love the way he is going to continue to work and he’s a great dude. I’m happy for him.”

In Case You Missed It

— Former tight end Travis Beckum served as the honorary captain.

— Junior Brady Schipper served as Allen’s backup, rushing for 38 yards on seven carries. There was some thought that Julius Davis would play that role, but he did not see time until the fourth quarter. He finished with 47 yards on nine carries but also had a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.

— Wisconsin brought most of its first team offense back on the field late in the fourth quarter after the second group followed Davis’ fumble with one by Jackson Acker.

— Wide receiver Danny Davis got an opportunity to serve as the punt returner for the first time this year.

— Another true freshman made his debut in linebacker Jake Ratzlaff. The Minnesota product was credited with one tackle.

Inside the Numbers

9 – That is how many different receivers Graham Mertz completed passes to. The quarterback finished 18-for-23 for 216 yards and a couple of touchdowns. The only blemish on an otherwise very good day was an interception late in the first half. Over the last two weeks, Mertz is completing 74.4% of his passes and has a passer rating of 196.2.

-1 – That is Wisconsin’s turnover margin for the year after forcing four more turnovers against Northwestern. The Badgers have now forced at least three turnovers in four straight games for the first time since 2009. The margin is only -1 because Wisconsin turned it over three times, including two late fumbles.

6 – That is how many straight wins Wisconsin has. It includes five Big Ten wins, all of which have come by at least 17 points.

5-2 – That is Wisconsin’s record in the Big Ten. It is tied with Iowa for the top spot in the West Division with two weeks to go. The Badgers own the tiebreaker with the Hawkeyes having beaten them 27-7 two weeks ago.

What’s Next

Wisconsin (7-3, 5-2) will host Nebraska (3-7, 1-6) in the final home game of the season next Saturday at 2:30 p.m.