The No. 19 Northwestern Wildcats took control of the Big Ten West Division with a statement victory over the visiting No. 10 Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday afternoon.
With the running game only accumulating 24 yards, Peyton Ramsey stepped up for the Wildcats (5-0) with 203 passing yards and two touchdowns.
For the Badgers (2-1), redshirt freshman quarterback Graham Mertz struggled against a menacing defensive front, finishing with three interceptions.
Northwestern had the perfect start to the game. After holding Wisconsin to a three-and-out on its first possession, the Wildcats drove down the field with Ramsey finding Charlie Mangieri for a 2-yard touchdown.
In the middle of the first quarter, Northwestern and Wisconsin had one of the craziest three-play sequences of the season.
First, Wildcats linebacker Paddy Fisher knocked the ball out of the hands of running back Garrett Groshek, and Blake Gallagher recovered the loose ball.
Immediately after that, on a double-reverse trick play, wide receiver Riley Lees found fellow wideout Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman wide open down the field. It was a touchdown on the field but was overturned when the referees ruled Chiaokhiao-Bowman had been forced out at the 1-yard line.
On the next play, Isaiah Bowser fumbled on the goal line, and Wisconsin recovered. A few plays later, Mertz found a streaking Chimere Dike for a 49-yard touchdown pass.
So instead of a 14-0 lead and all the momentum in the world, Northwestern found itself tied at 7 with Wisconsin.
In the first half, the Wildcats forced four turnovers, but only scored points off the last one. Brandon Joseph intercepted Mertz for the second time in the game with 2:15 remaining in the half.
On the ensuing drive, Ramsey found Chiaokhiao-Bowman in the back of the end zone for a beautiful toe drag catch for a touchdown to go up 14-7.
The third quarter was a punting free-for-all. The first nine possessions totaled 29 plays and 39 yards.
Charlie Kuhbander kicked a 32-yard field goal early in the fourth for Northwestern to go up 17-7.
Wisconsin finished with five turnovers and was minus-4 in TO ratio for the game.
--Field Level Media
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