- Associated Press - Thursday, October 2, 2014

No. 17 WISCONSIN (3-1, 0-0 Big Ten) at NORTHWESTERN (2-2, 1-0 Big Ten), 3:30 p.m. EDT (ESPN2)

Line: Wisconsin by 8.

Series Record: Wisconsin leads 57-33-5.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Wisconsin has won three straight by at least 17 points since a season-opening loss to LSU. But in all three of those games, Wisconsin did not pull away until the second half. Northwestern seems to be showing some spark after starting the season with losses at home to California and Northern Illinois. The Wildcats have won two straight and are coming off a 29-6 victory at Penn State, their most lopsided Big Ten road win in coach Pat Fitzgerald’s nine seasons.

KEY MATCHUP

Wisconsin’s run game vs. Northwestern’s defensive line. The Badgers rank No. 3 in the nation in rushing with 343.3 yards per game, and they lead the nation with an average of 7.04 yards per carry. But they are going against a team that has allowed just 13 points the last two games. Northwestern held Penn State to 50 yards rushing on 25 attempts while racking up four sacks.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Wisconsin: Running back Melvin Gordon comes into the game seventh in the nation in rushing with 612 yards. With 2,940 yards for his career, he needs 60 to become the Badgers’ 11th 3,000-yard rusher.

Northwestern: Quarterback Trevor Siemian threw for 258 yards last week against Penn State, but that was overshadowed by some rather unusual rushing statistics. He finished with minus-8 yards but ran for three 1-yard touchdowns.

FACTS & FIGURES

Wisconsin is one of four schools to rank among the nation’s top 20 in scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense and passing defense. The Badgers have scored at least 20 points in 17 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in school history. Wisconsin scored 20-plus in 18 straight games from Oct. 31, 2009, to Nov. 27, 2010. … The Badgers have not won at Ryan Field since 1999. … Wisconsin beat Northwestern 30-6 last season after the teams did not play each other in 2011 and 2012. They will meet annually now as members of the Big Ten West. … Northwestern is looking for its first win at home over a ranked team since beating No. 13 Iowa on Nov. 13, 2010. … Northwestern and Rutgers lead the nation with four blocked kicks.

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