The Wisconsin football team will head to Indianapolis with the most uncommon of expressions falling from their lips, "thank God for NCAA sanctions."
At 7-5, the Badgers finished third in their division, but due to postseason bans handed out to Ohio St. and Penn St., Wisconsin finds itself in its second straight Big Ten Championship game. Wisconsin does not have a "bad" loss on the season, but it will have its hands full with a very good Nebraska team.
Wisconsin lost a three-point heartbreaker in Lincoln earlier this season. It was a game the Badgers dominated early and let slip away late. If Wisconsin does not want another painful last-minute loss, it must accomplish these five things.
Taylor Martinez is one of the best quarterbacks in college football... when he is not throwing the ball. If the Badgers can limit Martinez's ability to scramble, they should be able to pull out the W.
Martinez is often prone to making poor decisions with his arm when under duress. If the Badgers force him to throw, they could see the Nebraska offense stall and potentially create game-changing turnovers.
If the Badgers' game plan is to force the Huskers to throw, the secondary has to be ready to step up. The unit is talented but all too often has gotten burned late in games.
They cannot let a Nebraska team with a QB who possesses mediocre passing abilities and lacks big-time wide receivers beat them. It is imperative that this unit comes prepared to play.
The bread and butter of Wisconsin football is a dominant rushing attack. All three Badgers backs are talented (Monte Ball, James White and Melvin Gordon), but that means little if the big guys in the trenches are not able to open up some holes.
The unit has played well at times, but has often failed to win the battle upfront. This Nebraska defense is too good for the Badgers to prevail if the running game cannot be established early. If this unit plays well, expect absurd yardage from the Wisconsin backfield and a Badger victory.
Nebraska is going to stack the box in order to make Wisconsin one dimensional.
Abbrederis will need to get involved in order to keep the Huskers honest. With a relatively inexperienced QB in Curt Phillips starting for Wisconsin, it is imperative that Abbrederis works as a security blanket for the passing attack.
If Abbrederis is effectively worked into the game plan, Wisconsin will avoid being predictable on offense and should be able to dispatch of Nebraska.
Wisconsin has a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, and have played tough opponents close all year. However, this team does posses a penchant for falling into lulls every so often, and taking series off against a team as good as Nebraska would lead to defeat.
A perfect example of the Badgers penchant for coasting was the first Wisconsin vs. Nebraska matchup. The Badgers had a big lead going into halftime, only to let the game slip away. If the Badgers want to go to a third straight Rose Bowl they will need to play 60 minutes of intense hard-nosed football.