Wisconsin vs. Nebraska: Latest Spread Info, BCS Impact and Predictions
Wisconsin and Nebraska were both ranked inside the top 10 when they played last season and the Badgers proceeded to win in a blowout. The Cornhuskers will be seeking revenge when the two Big Ten powers face off on Saturday.
The first month was a struggle for the Badgers. Even though they emerged with a 3-1 record, the wins were hardly convincing against overmatched opponents. They have the talent to improve, but it has to start happening soon with conference play getting underway.
Aside from a loss to UCLA, things have gone much smoother for the Cornhuskers. The team's offense has been terrific, ranking eighth in the nation, and Nebraska should be riding a wave of momentum after winning by more than 60 last week.
Which team will win?
Here's a look at all the important information for Saturday's game followed by a preview and some predictions.
Where: Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb.
When: Saturday, Sept. 29 at 8 p.m. ET
Watch: ABC or ESPN2
Live Stream: WatchESPN.com
Spread: Nebraska -11.5 (Vegas Insider)
At first glance, this seems like a pretty high line. Even though Wisconsin hasn't been playing up to its usual high standards, it wouldn't be a major shock if the Badgers won like the nearly two-touchdown spread would suggest.
The determining factor will be Montee Ball. Wisconsin's star running back has fallen quite a bit off his remarkable pace from last season, averaging just four yards per carry with three touchdowns. If he can return to Heisman-level form, the Badgers will be in good shape.
While the combination of a high-powered offense and home-field advantage should be enough for Nebraska to win the game, I think Wisconsin will cover.
Over/Under: 51 (Vegas Insider)
Nebraska will do its fair share to cover the spread. Junior quarterback Taylor Martinez is having his best season as a passer, which has really helped the Cornhuskers offense become more balanced and therefore more dangerous.
Freshman Joel Stave looked comfortable in his first collegiate start under center, which is always a good sign. He should continue to improve with experience, including his first road game this weekend. His performance will ultimately determine if the game goes over.
Stave showed enough last week to believe he should be able to hold his own in a marquee game. Expect the game to go over, perhaps just barely.
Key Injuries (via USA Today)
Wisconsin: Montee Ball (questionable, head) and Pat Muldoon (questionable, thumb)
Nebraska: Tyler Wullenwaber (out, knee) and Tim Marlowe (out, collarbone)
Top 25 Poll Implications
Nebraska has an opportunity to make a sizable jump up the rankings over the next two weeks. If the Cornhuskers can beat Wisconsin and take down Ohio State on the road, it should push for a stop in the top 10.
The Badgers are No. 23 in the USA Today poll, but are outside of the AP rankings. They need a major victory over a team like Nebraska to bring both polls into agreement and won't have another chance until they face Michigan State in late October.
Put simply, it's a crucial game for both sides.
What is more important for Wisconsin?
Keys to Wisconsin Win
First and foremost, Wisconsin needs to establish the running game. Whether it's Ball returning to his prior level of greatness or James White filling-in for him, the Badgers must find a way to run the ball effectively in the first half.
Not only will that open up passing lanes for Stave, but it should ensure the Badgers are able to control the pace. They don't want this game turning into a shootout because their offense isn't capable of keeping up for 60 minutes.
From there, the defense has to make some keep stops. The unit won't be able to completely shut Nebraska down, but if it can keep the game within one or two scores the entire way, the Badgers will at least have a chance in the fourth quarter.
Keys to Nebraska Win
The Cornhuskers have to put the pedal down on offense starting with the first drive and shouldn't let up until the final whistle. They have the weapons to put up a lot of points if they don't get bogged down in a slow possession battle.
Martinez has been terrific while the rushing duo of Ameer Abdullah and Imani Cross has been virtually unstoppable. Nebraska ranks eighth in the nation in average scoring thanks to that trio, which must continue to dominate in conference play.
As for the defense, it all comes down to getting off the field on third down. The Badgers will want to have a lot of long, clock-burning drives to keep the game close. A few early stops would lead Nebraska to a big victory.
Nebraska 28, Wisconsin 24
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