EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Godwin Igwebuike had three interceptions and Justin Jackson rushed for 162 yards, helping the resurgent Wildcats upset Melvin Gordon and No. 17 Wisconsin 20-14 on Saturday.
Trevor Siemian threw for a touchdown and also had a key block on Miles Shuler’s 16-yard TD run as Northwestern (3-2, 2-0 Big Ten) earned its third consecutive win.
The Wildcats also had a nice day on special teams, with Jack Mitchell kicking two short field goals and punter Chris Gradone handing over poor field position to the Badgers for much of the afternoon.
Gordon had 27 carries for a career-high 259 yards and a touchdown, but Tanner McEvoy and Joel Stave combined for just 138 yards passing on a cold, damp afternoon at Ryan Field. It was Stave’s first appearance of the season after the 19-game starter struggled mentally with throwing issues.
Wisconsin (3-2, 0-1) had scored at least 20 points in 17 consecutive games for the second-longest such streak in school history. It was the first loss for the Badgers since they dropped their season opener to LSU.
The Badgers trailed 10-0 before Gordon had a 2-yard touchdown run on their first possession of the second half. Gordon had six carries for 75 yards on the drive, including a 61-yard run on his first carry of the period.
Gordon has rushed for 140-plus yards in four games this season. He is averaging 54 yards on his first carry of the second half through five games this season.
Wisconsin then got the ball back, but Stave was intercepted by Jimmy Hall and Shuler scored on a reverse on the next play. Siemian helped clear the way with a block on Joe Schobert.
Stave, who replaced McEvoy late in the first half, also was picked off by Igwebuike in the end zone with 5:55 left in the game. He tossed a 19-yard touchdown pass to Kenzell Doe with 4:16 to go, but Wisconsin didn’t get the ball back until the final minute and Igwebuike put it away for Northwestern with another interception.
The redshirt freshman became the first Northwestern player with three interceptions since Neil Little against Indiana on Nov. 10, 1973.
It looked as if Northwestern might be in for a long day when Gordon had a 58-yard run along the visitors’ sideline on his first carry of the game. The junior ran for 8 yards on third-and-1 on his second carry, becoming the 11th player in school history with at least 3,000 yards rushing for his career.
But the Badgers’ first drive ended when Max Chapman hit McEvoy while he was trying to throw the ball to Alex Erickson, and Igwebuike picked it off in the end zone. The Wildcats then put together a 13-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in Mitchell’s 22-yard field goal with 4:27 left in the first quarter.
Northwestern put together another long drive in the second, covering 80 yards in 15 plays and grabbing a 10-0 lead on Siemian’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Dan Vitale with 3:38 left in the half. The Wildcats converted two fourth downs on their march down the field, including a 2-yard run for Warren Long and a clutch pass from Siemian to Miles Shuler.
On fourth-and-4 at the Wisconsin 17, Northwestern lined up to kick a field goal before moving into the shotgun formation with Mitchell at quarterback, leading to a timeout for the Badgers. The Wildcats then lined up to go for it and called timeout when Siemian was unable to draw an offside call.
Northwestern finally snapped the ball, and Siemian passed to Shuler for 7 yards for the first down. After Jackson had a 5-yard run to the 5, Siemian found Vitale in the back of the end zone for his third touchdown pass of the season.
Siemian was 11 for 21 for 133 yards at the break, compared to 24 yards passing for Wisconsin. With Gradone in the middle of a solid performance, four of the Badgers’ five first-half possessions began at its own 10 or worse.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap
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