For Northwestern, it's survival. Without starting quarterback Dan Persa and top running back Mike Trumpy, both out with injuries, backups will have to carry the load against the No. 5 Badgers. Redshirt freshman Evan Watkins will have to throw to WR Jeremy Ebert to make up the difference. Last week against Illinois, Watkins didn't have the kind of protection a pocket passer like him needs, and the Wildcats couldn't do much offensively. If the offensive line can help the 6-6 Watkins have enough time, his height can help him throw over the heads of the defensive rush.
Badgers quarterback Scott Tolzien leads the nation in completion percentage (.739) and has thrown for 12 touchdowns with only six interceptions. The Wildcats will have to have a much better pass rush than they had last week against the Illini to force Tolzien to make any mistakes. And if they do, they'll open up the field for running backs ames White and Montee Ball, who combined for 354 yards and six touchdowns against Michigan last week. Overall Wisconsin has 41 rushing touchdowns this year, so NU has its work cut out for it defensively.
Wisconsin is going for a BCS berth (likely the Rose Bowl); Northwestern is trying to stay alive for a possible spot in the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas on New Year's Day. It's a tough one for the Wildcats, especially on the road. See Hilary Lee's Big Ten Digest for her Big Ten previews and picks this week.
Game time is 2:30 p.m. CST and the game will be televised on ABC-7 in Chicago.