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Wisconsin’s Historic Struggles at Ryan Field

30 years of faceplants

244 yards against a favored Badgers team at Ryan Field? Checks out.

Let me be clear. You are an absolute idiot if you’re thinking of betting on Wisconsin to cover against Northwestern. You’re only mostly an idiot if you middle.

Barry Alvarez’s first year as UW head coach was 1990. That year, Wisconsin headed to Evanston a one-point favorite against the Wildcats. The Badgers lost, 44-34.

From 1990-present, has played 13 road games against Northwestern.

The Badgers have been favored in EVERY single game.

They are 4-9 straight up (1-6 since 2000).

They are 2-11 ATS.

You read that right.

You want the gory details? Great, I’m a masochist:

  • 1990: -1, lose 44-34 (Northwestern and Wisconsin went a combined 1-17 in B1G play in 1990.)
  • 1992: -9.5, lose 27-25 (Season finale. 2-8 Wildcats deprive 5-5 Wisconsin a bowl appearance with this upset victory.)
  • 1994: -11.5, WIN 46-14
  • 1995: -2.5, lose 35-0 (Northwestern was 5-1, ranked #11, and still a home underdog.)
  • 1997: -3.5, WIN 26-25, lose ATS (Wisconsin won this game on a career-long 48-yd FG at the gun after Northwestern fumbled inside the Wisconsin 10 with 1:20 to play. Totally improbable.)
  • 1999: -22, WIN 35-19, lose ATS (Backdoor cover for Northwestern, scoring in the last minute while trailing 35-11. Of note, Badger OT Chris McIntosh set a UW record for consecutive starts in this game, with his 47th.)
  • 2003: -10, lose 16-7 (Wisconsin entered 6-2. Brett Basanez went 10-23-176-1-2. So what.)
  • 2005: -6, lose 51-48 (Wisconsin won 10 games in Barry’s last year. Ryan Field doesn’t care.)
  • 2009: -7, lose 33-31 (WR Zeke Markshausen threw one pass in his Wildcat career, a 38-yard TD in this game. Wisconsin went 10-3 this year, still couldn’t win in Evanston.)
  • 2014: -7.5, lose 20-14 (259 yards rushing for Melvin Gordon, but still lose? Yep, this game might be the epitome of UW’s struggles in Evanston.)
  • 2016: -6, WIN 21-7 (UW’s only ATS cover since 1994. Three days later came one of the biggest upsets in presidential election history. Coincidence?)
  • 2018: -3.5, lose 31-17 (Jack Coan’s first start; one of Jonathan Taylor’s worst games: 11-46, two fumbles lost.)
  • 2020: -7.5, lose 17-7 (Graham Mertz’s first, but not last, encounter with reality.)

Guess what? Despite firing their coach and losing their last two games by a combined 55 points, the Badgers are 10 point favorites Saturday.