Five Keys to Victory: Northern Illinois

After two successful ventures at Camp Randall, No.7 Wisconsin hits the road for the first time this season to take on head coach Dave Doeren, quarterback Chandler Harnish and the rest of the Northern Illinois Huskies. Badger Nation gives its five keys to the game.

1, Reestablish the run

The juggernaut that is the Wisconsin rushing attack hit a bit of a speed bump in the first half against Oregon State. Some of it has to do with the Beavers keying in on the ground game, but that shouldn't be anything new to the Badgers since their successes running the football are far from a secret. The offense is fueled by pounding the ball down the field early and often.

2, Wrong sideline, coach

Dave Doeren is used to trying to stop the Wisconsin offense. The only difference is that this isn't practice and Soldier Field isn't the McClain Center. In just his third game as head coach of Northern Illinois, Doeren matches up against his former team. He should be very familiar with all aspects of the Badgers attack, but stopping them is a bit more complicated than X's and O's. Can his Huskies be the first to give Wisconsin a test?

3, Home away from home

While this is the first road test for the Badgers, calling it a true road game is a bit of a stretch. Wisconsin has a big following in Chicago and there should be just as many W's on red shirts as there are NIU's. That said, it still is a different venue than Camp Randall and will take extra focus to steer away from the distractions that a pro stadium and a bowl game type atmosphere provide.

4, Dual threat Duel

Wisconsin fans are quick to rave about the stellar play of Russell Wilson in the air and on the ground this season. They may be shocked, however, to hear that the quarterback on the other side of the field has more passing yards (510 to 444), more passing touchdowns (7 to 5), more rushing yards (169 to 73), and more rushing touchdowns (4 to 1) than Wilson. Chandler Harnish has done just about everything for the Huskies and could give the Badgers defense fits. While two years makes a big difference, a Harnish led Huskies team pushed the Badgers until the end, falling 28-20 at Camp Randall.

5, Depth Charge

The loss of Devin Smith leaves a thin Badgers secondary even thinner. Marcus Cromartie did a decent job filling in and can be the answer. However, any more injuries or 3-4 receiver sets could really test Wisconsin unless they find some depth in the next two weeks. While Antonio Fenelus and Cromartie will probably get the lion's share of the snaps, expect any junk time that may occur to be an open audition for the third and fourth spots on the depth chart. The same goes for receiver, as no one has stepped up behind Nick Toon and Jared Abbrederis yet this season.

Fearless Prediction

Doeren is a defensive guy at heart, so you better believe his pride will be on the line when Wisconsin's powerful offense is on the field. Combine that with his knowledge of the Wisconsin personnel and the pseudo-road game, and this game should be a little closer than the first two. Wisconsin fans still shouldn't have reason to worry though.

Wisconsin 38 Northern Illinois 17

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