Game Recap: Scratching the Cats

(Matt Fleming/13)

Follow along for free with BadgerNation's drive blog. Melvin Gordon rushed for 172 yards and two touchdowns,Joel Stave threw for three scores and the Wisconsin's defense kept an opponent out of the end zone for the third time this season, as Wisconsin destroys Northwestern, 35-6, Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.

MADISON – It may have taken Wisconsin longer than it originally hoped, but the Badgers finally made their first big statement under head coach Gary Andersen.

Curtailing one of the best offenses in the conference, Wisconsin's defense put on a clinic in a 35-6 victory over No.19 Northwestern on Saturday.

Against a Northwestern offense totaling 474 offensive yards per game and 255.6 passing yards, the Badgers (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) held the Wildcats to 243 and 197, respectively, as the Wildcats were held to less than 10 points for the first time since Sept. 22, 2007, a span of 78 games.

Wisconsin's defense pressured both of Northwestern's quarterbacks early and often, as the Badgers registered a season-high seven sacks and the most it almost 10 years (Oct., 18, 2003).

Wisconsin's offense didn't need much help, but put up over 500 yards for the fourth time this season. The Badgers rushed for 286 yards and passed for 241 yards, as tailback Melvin Gordon, returning from a knee injury that knocked him out of the fourth quarter against Ohio State two weeks ago, rushed for 172 yards and a pair of scores.

Joel Stave – despite throwing two interceptions and being without starting wide receiver Jared Abbrederis for three quarters – threw for three scores to three different targets.

Northwestern (4-2, 0-2) dropped its second straight game.

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Audio: Inside the Locker Room

Game recap: Defense Makes the Statement

Offense Overcomes Abbrederis' Absence

Badgers Notes: Running Game Gets Back On Track, but Kicking Game Struggles Again

From the other side: Northwestern Not Ready for the Big Stage

Wisconsin 35, No.19 Northwestern 6

First Half

First Quarter

3-0 Northwestern

8 plays, 29 yards, 3:32 TOP, 9:46 left

FG Jeff Budzien 27

Key Play: Jared Abbrederis caught a pass in his 34th consecutive games, but fumbled after getting hit from behind near midfield. Chi Chi Ariguzo - a one-time Wisconsin target - returned the fumble 11 yards to the UW 39.

7-3 Wisconsin

1 play, 63 yards, :10 TOP, 4:09 left

Jared Abbrederis 63-yard pass from Joel Stave (Kyle French kick)

Key Play: On a beautiful designed play-action pass, Stave faked that handoff to Melvin Gordon on the jet sweet and to James White on the dive. With the cornerback and safety eying the backfield, Abbrederis easily got behind the coverage and Stave delivered a perfect pass in stride.

Second Quarter

14-3 Wisconsin

11 plays, 75 yards, 5:43 TOP, 7:06 left

James White 1-yard run (Kyle French kick)

Key Play: With Jared Abbrederis out, Joel Stave goes 5-5 for 52 yards on the touchdown drive, including a 11-yard pass to Jordan Fredrick, 18 yards to Jeff Duckworth and 13 yards to James White.

21-3 Wisconsin

2 plays, 78 yards, :39 TOP, 2:03 left

Melvin Gordon 71-yard run (Jack Russell kick)

Key Play: After faking the jet sweep earlier in the game, resulting in UW's first touchdown, the Badgers this time give Gordon the football. The result was Gordon weaving through traffic and sprinting pass defenders for the score.

21-6 Wisconsin

6 plays, 58 yards, :39 TOP, :12 left

FG Jeff Budzien 47

Key Play: A miscommunication in Wisconsin's secondary allowed Kain Colter to complete a 46-yard pass to Rashad Lawrence down the sideline, getting the Wildcats to the UW 33.

Second Half

Third Quarter

28-6 Wisconsin

10 plays, 75 yards, 4:44 TOP, 10:16 left

Jacob Pedersen 1-yard pass from Joel Stave (Jack Russell kick)

Key Play: Stave continues to spread the ball around without his number-one target on the field. Matched in one-on-one coverage, Alex Erickson got to the inside and managed to haul in a 35-yard catch, getting UW to the NW 2-yard line.

Fourth Quarter

35-6 Wisconsin

9 plays, 56 yards, 4:03 TOP, 12:29 left

Derek Watt 3-yard pass from Joel Stave (Jack Russell kick)

Key Play: Stave continues to spread the ball around without his number-one target on the field. Matched in one-on-one coverage, Alex Erickson got to the inside and managed to haul in a 35-yard catch, getting UW to the NW 2-yard line.

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