Drive Blog: Losing the Fight

Follow along with Badger Nation's Drive Blog! UW's secondary couldn't stop Northwestern's passing attack and a costly fumble by John Clay with less than two minutes to go prevented any chance of UW rescuing this game from the flames, as the Badgers drop their conference finale Saturday.

EVANSTON, Ill. - Considering all early expectations of the season, few thought the Badgers would be playing their Big Ten season finale with a chance to share second-place in the conference.

That's about all the solace one can take from Saturday's demoralizing defense performance at Northwestern.

After giving up 51 points and well over 500 yards the last time UW played on the road in the series, Wisconsin's secondary was torched by fifth-year senior quarterback Mike Kafka and the NU passing attack, digging too deep of hole to climb out of in a nail-biting 33-31 loss.

The Badgers had their chance trailing by two with less than five minutes to go, but a John Clay fumble on third-and-one gave the ball back to NU at the Wildcat 41. With only two timeouts left, the Badgers were sunk.

The Badgers (8-3, 5-3 Big Ten) fall into a tie for fourth place in the Big Ten with Northwestern (8-4, 5-3 Big Ten), who have won four of its last five to close the season.

Post game coverage from Badger Nation, the Internet's No.1 source for Wisconsin athletics

Stories from Badger Nation

Game Story - UW Stumbles in Evanston yet again

UW's secondary can't stop Kafka

Notes: Clay's fumble caps tough day

Audio from Badger Nation

Head Coach Bret Bielema

WR David Gilreath

CB Niles Brinkley

QB Scott Tolzien

RB John Clay

SS Jay Valai

MLB Jae McFadden

No.14/17 Wisconsin (8-2, 5-2, Big Ten) vs. Northwestern (7-4, 4-3 Big Ten

First Half

First Quarter

7-0 Northwestern

10 plays, 75 yards, 3:35 TOP, 11:25 left

Andrew Brewer 26-yard pass from Mike Kafka (Stefan Demos kick)

Key Play: Sending a blitz might not be the best option for Wisconsin, especially when it leaves its secondary on an island. On third-and-10, Kafka his Zeke Markshausen for 21 yards to get NU deep into UW territory.

10-0 Northwestern

8 plays, 52 yards, 2:34 TOP, 2:09 left

FG Stefan Demos 45 yards

Key Play: Mike Kafka is tearing up the UW secondary. A huge pass play to Brewer goes for 34 yards to the UW 41, as Kafka dumps the pass in between Jae McFadden, Chris Maragos and others.

Second Quarter

10-7 Northwestern

7 plays, 57 yards, 3:17 TOP, 13:52 left

John Clay 2-yard run(Philip Welch kick)

Key Play: Tolzien dialed up Garrett Graham's number on back-to-back plays and the senior tight end answered the call, catching passes of 20 and 18 yards to get UW inside the 3-yard line.

14-10 Wisconsin

5 plays, 37 yards, 2:32 TOP, 11:04 left

Garrett Graham 26-yard catch from Tolzien (Welch kick)

Key Play: A great play call against the right protection. Tolzien had three open receivers - Montee Ball in the flat and Lance Kendricks over the middle - but the junior went to Graham, who made a jumping catch in front of two receivers for the score.

17-14 Northwestern

7 plays, 34 yards, 2:32 TOP, 8:23 left

Andrew Brewer 12-yard pass from Mike Kafka (Stefan Demos kick)

Key Play: The Brewer-Kafka connection strikes again. On third down, Brewer's slant route was not picked up by the UW secondary, causing the receiver to be open for the diving touchdown catch.

24-14 Northwestern

3 plays, 80 yards, :52 TOP, 6:02 left

Sidney Stewart 38-yard pass from Zeke Markshausen (Stefan Demos kick)

Key Play: You could see the play coming from a mile away. Kafka threw a backwards pass to Markshausen, CB Devin Smith bit on the pass, leaving Stewart wide open. Doesn't get much easier that that?

27-14 Northwestern

6 plays, 40 yards, 3:01 TOP, :34 left

FG Demos 38-yard kick

Key Play: UW had Northwestern backed up in field position, but Mike Kafka completed a 26-yard pass to Drake Dunsmore to get NU to the 35-yard line.

Second Half

Third Quarter

27-17 Northwestern

10 plays, 51 yards, 3:49 TOP, 11:11 left

FG Philip Welch 35

Key Play: Wisconsin called nine-straight pass plays on the drive, getting down to the 11-yard line, but penalties and bad passes cost UW seven points.

27-24 Northwestern

David Gilreath 68-yard punt return (Welch Kick)

Key Play: Entering the week ranked 105th in punt return, David Gilreath finally got his touchdown, as the special teams created a perfect gab for UW to get its first non-blocked punt return since 2005.

30-24 Northwestern

9 plays, 30 yards, 3:56 TOP, 4:20 left

FG Demos 45-yard kick

Key Play: UW had Northwestern backed up in field position, but Mike Kafka completed a 26-yard pass to Drake Dunsmore to get NU to the 35-yard line.

Fourth Quarter

33-24 Northwestern

6 plays, 45 yards, 2:22 TOP, 14:50 left

FG Demos 34-yard kick

Key Play: Expecting safety Jay Valai to pick up coverage, Devin Smith allows Sidney Stewart to run right by him. Kafla sees the mistake and hits his receiver for 39 yards.

33-31 Northwestern

8 plays, 54 yards, 4:05 TOP, 10:45 left

Garrett Graham 13-yard pass from Tolzien (Welch kick)

Key Play: Brad Phillips had an interception go right through his hands and into the arms of David Gilreath, who made a big catch to keep the chains moving in NU territory.

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