MADISON, Wisconsin — Wisconsin thought it had three go-ahead touchdowns on Saturday. It left chilly Camp Randall Stadium with a loss.
Each score was negated by a call by the officials, who left the field under a volley of snowballs from the stands. Five turnovers hurt the 21st-ranked Badgers even more.
Justin Jackson ran for 139 yards and a touchdown, and No. 20 Northwestern used a goal-line stand to preserve a 13-7 victory.
"You turn the ball over five times ... and even have a chance to win the game, that's a credit to that group," Badgers coach Paul Chryst said. "I actually thought we won it a couple times but we didn't and you've just got to keep playing."
Wisconsin just ran out of time in the final home game for quarterback Joel Stave and 18 other seniors.
The Wildcats (9-2, 5-2) moved into a tie for second in the Big Ten's West Division with the Badgers (8-3, 5-2), who had won five in a row.
With 1:47 left, Stave drove the Badgers from the 26 to the Northwestern 1. But Stave was forced to leave before Wisconsin's final play from scrimmage after he was dazed by a sack.
Bart Houston's pass to the end zone sailed just out of reach of Tanner McEvoy on fourth-and goal from the 11 with 2 seconds left, sealing the win for Northwestern.
"To see the way our defense rose up and got the stop on fourth down — we did it all the way to the last play," Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald said.
Jackson had 35 carries, including an 8-yard touchdown run in the first quarter set up by the first of two interceptions for Stave.
Northwestern snapped a four-game road losing streak to Wisconsin with its first win in Madison since a 47-44 victory in double overtime in 2000.
The Badgers' bend-but-don't break defense benefited from two missed field goals for Northwestern. But Wisconsin missed out on several opportunities to move ahead.
What at first looked like a touchdown reception for Jazz Peavy on first-and-goal from the 1 on the final drive was ruled incomplete by officials after a review.
"I thought he had a couple feet down, a couple steps," Chryst said before adding, "doesn't matter what I think."
On the previous play, Stave hit tight end Troy Fumagalli on a pass inside the 5 and Fumagalli looked as if he rolled into the end zone for a score. But a review showed Fumagalli's knee was down at the 1.
In the third quarter, Alex Erickson's 78-yard punt return for a touchdown that could have given the Badgers the lead was negated after officials ruled Erickson had called for a fair catch.
"It was questionable calls all game, but we can't go back and change it," tight end Austin Traylor said.
But Northwestern could never shake free of Wisconsin despite the Badgers' mistakes.
The Wildcats' Jack Mitchell missed two of four field goal attempts. He did make a 37-yarder with 4 minutes left, allowing the Wildcats to capitalize on Stave's second interception.
Stave finished 20 of 34 for 229 yards. Peavy, a sophomore, had a breakout performance with five catches for 88 yards.
Otherwise, the Wildcats dominated the line of scrimmage and allowed just a 9-yard touchdown run by Corey Clement in the third quarter. Clement finished with 24 yards on 10 carries.
Northwestern held Wisconsin to minus-26 yards rushing, a number skewed by the yardage attached to five sacks for the Wildcats. Deonte Gibson had three sacks.
Other than Jackson, Northwestern didn't have much production either. Clayton Thorson was 9 of 20 for 60 yards against Wisconsin's top-ranked defense.
The Wildcats' defense was a little better.
"We just wanted to prove to Wisconsin, the rest of the nation and the Big Ten that we were a great defense," Gibson said, "and I think we got that done today."
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This story has been updated with Northwestern credited for five sacks as a team, Gibson with three sacks.