Nebraska Football: Wisconsin Game Will Be True Test of Bo Pelini's Progress

Erin SorensenContributor IMay 29, 2014

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 29: Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Bo Pelini talks with his defense during their game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Memorial Stadium on September 29, 2012 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska won 30-27. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images

If there is one game in 2014 that will be a true test of Bo Pelini's progress as Nebraska's head coach, it's the game against Wisconsin.

It's been a little while since the two met. In fact, the last time the two faced off was December 1, 2012 at the Big Ten Championship Game. The Huskers lost 70-31.

After a season apart, the two finally meet again on November 15.

So what exactly does this game mean for Nebraska? Quite honestly, it means a lot. That's not really news to anyone, though.

The winner of this matchup could possibly head to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game. While it's not impossible for the loser to still make the trip, a lot does ride on this game. That's the nerve-racking part.

As Nebraska heads into its fourth season in the Big Ten, Wisconsin has become a sort of kryptonite for the Huskers. It's almost reminiscent of a situation with a past Big 12 foe.

In the Huskers' first season in the Big Ten, ESPN's College GameDay made the trek to Madison to witness the big first contest in almost 40 years. Unfortunately, Nebraska lost 48-17 in prime time.

One year later, the Huskers were able to redeem the loss in a close victory at home. On homecoming night, Pelini and his team secured a 30-27 win. But then the Big Ten Championship Game came along and ruined all the feel-good vibes.

When Nebraska and Wisconsin finally meet again, it will have been almost two years since that meeting.

Unfortunately, the game is at Camp Randall, which does the Huskers no favors. The upside is that it likely will not be in prime timethanks to it being in Novemberwhich is something that does actually benefit Nebraska.

Whatever the reason, prime time has not been kind to the Huskers since the team joined the Big Ten.

In the seven prime-time games played in the new conference, Nebraska has only won three. That's not exactly flattering.

Fans have pointed to several reasons for why this is. A popular one is that Pelini and his team are too emotional in the spotlight. If that's the case, the Huskers better buckle up. The matchup with Wisconsin will be a wild rideand prime-time-likeregardless of when it's played.

For Pelini, how his team reacts to the pressure will be telling. Nebraska doesn't want to fall victim to Wisconsin once again.

If it does, the picture circles back to that Big 12 foe that was previously mentioned. Most likely know what team that is, but if not, it starts to feel oddly similar to the Nebraska-Texas rivalry.

In the final meeting between the two before Nebraska left for the Big Ten, the Huskers lost 20-13. From 1996 on, Nebraska only defeated the Longhorns once. That doesn't exactly make a series fun.

Pelini was obviously not in charge of Nebraska through all of those losses. He took over in 2008 and fell to the Longhorns only twice. Those were a 13-12 loss in a controversial Big 12 Championship Game and a 20-13 loss at home the next year.

For whatever reason, Texas became that team the Huskers just couldn't beat.

Wisconsin can't become that team for Nebraska in the Big Ten. When the Huskers and Badgers last met, things were different. The rosters were different, the conference divisions were different and Wisconsin even had a different head coach. That makes things a little harder to predict for 2014.

At the end of the day, though, Wisconsin will still be that team to beat. While there are plenty of other games worth paying attention to, November 15 will likely be in the minds of many as it draws closer.

How will the Huskers fare? It all depends on Pelini and the progress he's made as a head coach.