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Let’s stop to take a breath. In this preview, we’ve now got Nebraska at 9-0, with wins over Miami and at defending B1G champion Michigan State.
Nebraska, at this point, would likely be in the Top 10 and a serious contender for making the inaugural College Football Playoff.
Can Nebraska keep the magic going with a trip to Camp Randall in November?
It’s a tall order. Assuming Joel Stave wins the quarterback position, it’s true that he’s not going to scare anyone. Wisconsin has lost almost all of its returning receiving corps, as well as its entire front seven on defense, to graduation.
But the Badgers still have Melvin Gordon, who would still be my pick as the conference’s best running back. They still have an offensive line that would rival an NFL squad’s in terms of size and power. And they still have Gary Andersen, whose teams tend to not beat themselves with turnovers and penalties.
Also, the game is in Madison, in the notoriously difficult Camp Randall, in mid-November—and likely with a prime-time kickoff, especially if Nebraska is undefeated coming into the game.
We won’t get into the B1G title game in 2012, the last meeting between the two schools, when Gordon torched the Blackshirts for 216 yards on nine—yes, nine—carries en route to a 70-31 demolition of Nebraska.
The upshot? This is a game Nebraska can win. On paper, Nebraska is at least equal if not superior to Wisconsin.
However, it’s hard to see Nebraska under Pelini being able to escape Madison with a win.
Prediction: Wisconsin 24, Nebraska 20 (9-1 overall, 5-1 in conference)