Five Keys to Victory - Northwestern

With a Big Ten title and possible Rose Bowl birth hanging in the balance against Northwestern, No.5 Wisconsin will need a special performance to make sure it doesn't suffer one of the program's biggest letdowns. Badger Nation gives its five keys to the game.

1. Keep Focused

A lot will be on the line on Saturday, and the only thing that can cause the Badgers to miss out on the BCS is the Badgers. Expecting to run all over the Wildcats with ease isn't a good idea, even if they gave up 330 yards to Illinois running back Mikel LeShoure last week. If they treat this like any other game, they should be fine.

2. No Persa, no problem

A big reason that many Badger fans are looking past this game to the postseason is the loss of Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa. Before going down with a shoulder injury, Persa was pegged as many as Big Ten Offensive MVP. Without Persa, the Wildcats lose stability and consistency. Putting pressure on Saturday's starter Evan Watkins could spell disaster for Northwestern.

3. Clay test

If John Clay is healthy enough to go on Saturday, Coach Bret Bielema would be wise to get him some reps. Clay figures to be a big part of the Badgers' bowl plans, but he hasn't had a carry since the Purdue game and needs to get some game action in going into bowl practice to see exactly where he is at.

4. Senior send-off

What might be lost in all of the BCS hoopla is that this will be the last time the seniors come out of the tunnel at Camp Randall. There's no need to run up the score anymore and if they get the chance, it would be a good gesture to get the seniors that never see the field some reps.

5. Hurry up and shut it down

The one aspect of the Northwestern offense that might give the Badgers some trouble is the hurry-up offense. The best way to beat a hurry up is to force three and outs. If Wisconsin can get pressure, stop the run, and keep coverage, Northwestern will end up tiring its own defense out more than Wisconsin's.

Fearless prediction

Despite the high stakes, Wisconsin shouldn't have much trouble with a depleted Northwestern squad. The Wildcats have given the Badgers fits before, but not in Camp Randall and not against a Wisconsin squad that is this talented. Wisconsin should roll.

Wisconsin 45 Northwestern 17

Badger Nation Top Stories