Nebraska earned its first win in the Big Ten of the season Saturday when the No. 22 Cornhuskers faced off against the Wisconsin Badgers. It was the first Big Ten test of the season, with a lot riding on this nationally televised contest.
Through the win, there were 10 things that we learned about the Cornhuskers.
The Cornhuskers were able to make some plays defensively, but the offense looked inconsistent during crucial points during the game. Taylor Martinez made some critical plays, but he didn’t get enough to earn the convincing win.
If the Cornhuskers can stop giving the ball away, they have a very good team to build on this season.
If the Cornhuskers weren’t giving the ball away to the Badgers with a turnover, they were fumbling the ball and recovering it themselves.
One of the keys to this game was the turnovers. Nebraska struggled to produce on offense. There were a number of opportunities that were missed because the ball ended up in the Badgers' hands.
There were multiple exchange issues that happened between Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead. That issue shouldn’t exist, but somehow it does.
The Cornhuskers need to work on ball control if they want to survive the Big Ten schedule this season. They have a powerful offense, but mistakes ruin the continuity and chemistry during drives.
Not often do I enjoy extreme uniform changes, but this game hosts two alternate jerseys, with the Cornhuskers finding a great look.
Nebraska is a traditional team that is known for the signature “N” emblem found on the helmet, and the bright red home jersey that they sport.
This week the Cornhuskers wore blacked out helmets with the signature “N” and dark red tops and pants. The Huskers also added a “N” to the front of the jersey.
It was a great look for Nebraska and did not steal from history—it actually personified it.
If not for Ameer Abdullah and his return abilities, the Cornhuskers would not have been in this game in the first half. The Huskers were unable to get the ball rolling with consistency, relying on a big kickoff return to get their first points on the board.
The Huskers also made key stops on special teams against the Badgers. The kickoff team for the Huskers flew down the field and swarmed the ball carrier, containing any hope of a return for the Badgers.
One of the major highlights of the game for Nebraska was the special teams.
Key turnovers and penalties ruined what could have been a big conference win for the Cornhuskers. There were times in the game that the Nebraska defense would be prepped to make big stops, but dumb decisions gave the edge back to the Badgers.
One of the glaringly boneheaded plays was the roughing the kicker call. When the Badgers were punting the ball away to Nebraska, they hit the punter and guided Wisconsin to a scoring drive.
The Cornhuskers could have easily have been in this game early and fought for a big win, but they blew too many plays and gifted too many opportunities to the Badgers.
If there was a bright spot for the Nebraska defense it was the run stopping power of the Huskers unit.
Montee Ball was expected to be a major player in this game, but he really wasn’t able to get the ball rolling consistently. He shredded the Huskers defense last season for over 150 yards.
The Huskers smothered the run and have a lot to build on with the defensive effort given at the line of scrimmage tonight.
The Huskers have struggled against the spread schemes that they faced in the first few weeks, but this Wisconsin offense was exactly what Nebraska’s defense is built for. The Huskers had a lot of good fits and played the run very well.
Throughout the game the Cornhuskers were arriving too early to the football and missing some plays completely. There were a number of plays that the Huskers could have made on the football that were missed by a lack of awareness.
There was almost a sacrifice that happened as the Huskers prepared to stop the run, but neglected the passing defense.
The Nebraska secondary will face a number of big arms this year inside the Big Ten. The Huskers will have to get better in the back half of the defense or they will be shredded often down the road.
If not for the pass rush from the Nebraska defense, the Cornhuskers would have been in trouble down the stretch.
There weren’t a lot of penalties that came in this game, but the few that were thrown on the Cornhuskers were crucial.
The toughest penalty to swallow for the Nebraska team was a roughing the punter call that came early in the first half. It was a key penalty that led to a Wisconsin score, putting the Badgers up by two possessions.
The Huskers were able to stay clean for the majority of the game, but major penalties killed their chances at getting a convincing win against Wisconsin.
Ameer Abdullah and Rex Burkhead form one of the most dangerous tandems in the country.
Taylor Martinez made a lot of plays for the Cornhuskers tonight, but the backfield made a lot of that possible.
Both backs were steady, and the Cornhuskers—with Martinez in the mix—gained over five yards per carry. The way that Nebraska was able to control the clock late came from their efficiency on the ground.
The Wisconsin offense was expected to be able to rely on its running game, but Nebraska beat the Badgers at their own game. The Cornhuskers owned the ground and introduced the country to two of the most dangerous backs in college football.
Not often does a quarterback look like an all-star in a big game, but Martinez stood out in Saturday’s contest against Wisconsin. The Cornhuskers were searching for leadership on the field and it was found in their star quarterback.
Martinez continued on his magical quarterback mission and completed another fare amount of his passes against the Wisconsin defense. He finished with a 58.6 completion percentage.
Throughout the night Martinez was able to make plays with his feet and arm that were very impressive.
The Cornhuskers are a strong football team inside the Big Ten right now. They had a lot of bad plays and penalties that could have lost them the game, but they overcame their missteps in this game.
The Nebraska offense showed a lot of promise against a tough Wisconsin defense. The Nebraska offense was able to get rushing yards late and controlled the pace of the game despite early woes.
The Cornhuskers were able to show that in clutch games they can make plays and stand the chance to make waves inside the Big Ten this season.