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Nebraska vs. Wisconsin: Does Russell Wilson Have the Most to Prove?

LINCOLN, NEBRASKA - SEPTEMBER 25: Nebraska Cornhuskers cornerback Alfonzo Dennard #15 celebrates with teammate  cornerback Prince Amukamara #21during second half action of their game at Memorial Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska Defeated South Dakota State 17-3.  (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images
Michael HuckstepCorrespondent IDecember 26, 2016

In Nebraska's first Big Ten divisional game, virtually all of the NCAA team statistics favor their opponent: the Wisconsin Badgers. 

Without boring the reader with a slew of numbers that, judging by both teams' opponents, are still meaningless anyway, these are the statistics in which Nebraska is superior:

Rushing offense and kick returns. Not too impressive.

These are the stats where both teams stack up fairly evenly (though Wisconsin holds a slight to moderate edge in each):

Scoring offense, net punting, punt returns, turnover margin, and sacks allowed.

Again, it's doubtful that those facts did much to build the confidence of many Husker fans.

Next, we have the list of statistics in which Wisconsin holds a decided edge:

Rushing defense, passing offense, pass defense, total offense, total defense, scoring defense, sacks and tackles for loss.

Very impressive. Wisconsin wins in a laugher, right?

Not so fast.

Here's a statistic (courtesy of Jeff Sagarin) that seems to have been conveniently forgotten.

Strength of schedule:

Nebraska: 69th nationally

Wisconsin: 148th nationally

Let's delve a little further...

NC State transfer quarterback Russell Wilson is being hailed as the "perfect" fit for the Wisconsin offense.

After all, in four games Wilson has thrown for 1,136 yards and 11 touchdowns. In all four games, he's passed for at least two touchdowns, and he is the first Wisconsin quarterback in history to throw for at least three touchdowns in three straight games.

But how do UW's aerial-assaulted teams rank defensively?

Well, Wisconsin's most recent opponent, South Dakota is an FCS school. However, the three FBS teams that they've played currently rank 113th (Northern Illinois), 114th (UNLV) and 119th (Oregon State) in pass-efficiency defense.

Incidentally, Nebraska is 34th in the nation, three spots ahead of Wisconsin.

In total defense, those three teams rank No. 111th, 100th and 70th, respectively.

Nebraska is 52nd in the country. Assuredly, the Pelini's are more than a little unhappy about that, especially after finishing seventh and eleventh nationally in total defense the past two years.

Regardless of what happens on Saturday, look for that No. 52 ranking to improve this season now that the Huskers have Alfonzo Dennard, Jared Crick and Lavonte David (Rivals.com's No. 1 Overall Defensive Trio) back on the field together for the first time this season.

So, for those tired of hearing how Nebraska will be rolled in Madison, ask yourself this:

Is Wilson for real or did he and the Badgers just help themselves to a plate of softer cupcakes? 

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