The phrase “if you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have any” has been around awhile, but whomever invented it was definitely speaking about the 2014 Wisconsin team.
The 17th-ranked Badgers found a way to lose at Northwestern, 20-14, on a day when Melvin Gordon set a personal best with 27 rushes for 259 yards and a touchdown because Wisconsin quarterbacks Tanner McEvoy and Joel Stave threw three completed passes inside the Northwestern end zone, one to a guy wearing white and two to a guy in purple.
McEvoy started the game and completed 4-of-10 passes for 24 yards with an interception in the Wildcats’ end zone to Godwin Igwebuike. He was replaced late in the second quarter after taking a rough hit from a Northwestern defender.
Joel Stave replaced McEvoy and completed only 8-of-19 passes for 114 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Stave’s first pick came at his own 16, and one play later Miles Shuler raced in to push the Northwestern lead to 17-7. The Badgers were down 20-7 with 5:55 to play when Stave threw without a doubt the worst pick of the four, this time again to Igwebuike inside the Northwestern end zone. How bad was this interception? Igwebuike wasn’t even the only defender between Stave and his intended target. The fourth and final pick, again to Igwebuike, effectively ended any hope for a miracle at the Wisconsin 36-yard line with 18 seconds to play.
In all, Wisconsin quarterbacks completed 12-of-29 passes for 138 yards with a touchdown and four interceptions, while five Badgers rushers combined for 284 yards on 37 carries.
Trevor Siemian was just effective enough to win, hitting 15-of-29 passes for 182 yards with a touchdown, while Justin Jackson carried the water with 33 rushes for 162 yards.
The win by Northwestern completely throws the Big Ten West race into chaos. Northwestern is suddenly 3-2 after its 0-2 start, and in first place in the division at 2-0. Wisconsin drops to 3-2 (and certainly out of the Top 25) with two gut-ripping losses, and 0-1 inside the conference.
Depending on what happens at Spartan Stadium tonight, Northwestern, Iowa and Minnesota could be in a tie for first place in the Big Ten West.