Nebraska vs. Wisconsin: Live Score, Highlights and Analysis
Wisconsin 48, Nebraska 17 – Final
The No. 8 ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers begin their inaugural slate of Big Ten play with an epic challenge, traveling to Camp Randall Stadium to square off against the No. 7 ranked Wisconsin Badgers for a night game in front of a pumped-up Badger crowd.
Both teams come into the game at 4-0, yet plenty of question marks abound due to the quality of their non-conference opposition.
Besides that, the two teams haven't faced each other since 1974.
The Badgers' victories, led by senior quarterback and NC State transfer Russell Wilson, have looked more impressive thus far, as they have dispatched their opponents by an average of 40 points.
Wilson has completed 75 percent of his passes, totaling 1,136 yards and 11 touchdowns through the air, and ranks second in the nation in pass efficiency.
His primary target will be Nick Toon, a fifth-year senior who brings a wealth of leadership to the Badgers receiving corps. Toon leads the team with 21 receptions for 353 yards and five touchdowns.
Wisconsin also features a pair of impressive running backs, James White and Montee Ball, led by a monstrous offensive line. The Badgers haven't fumbled yet this season—a problem that has plagued the Cornhuskers.
Defensively, the Badgers rank seventh nationally in total defense and have only allowed an average of 8.5 points per game.
Nebraska has won their games by an average of three touchdowns and their eighth-ranked rushing attack has racked up more than 300 yards in back-to-back weeks.
The Huskers' sophomore signal-caller, Taylor Martinez, has been inconsistent through the air, struggling to complete 50 percent of his passes. Nevertheless, the dual threat Martinez has accounted for 1,068 yards of total offense and 11 touchdowns.
Junior RB Rex Burkhead has been a workhorse in the backfield, rushing for 420 yards and seven touchdowns. The tandem of Martinez and Burkhead rank second and third in conference rushing yards, respectively.
Nebraska's defense has been a disappointment so far this season; currently they are ranked 52nd nationally in total defense and have allowed an average of 22 points per game.
However, this game marks the first time this season that DT Jared Crick, LB Lavonte David and CB Alfonzo Dennard (initially ranked as Rivals.com's No. 1 overall defensive trio) will all play in the same game.
Nebraska holds an edge in special teams as kicker Brent Maher has converted eight of nine field goal attempts and freshman phenom Ameer Abdullah's kick return exploits include a 100-yard return for a TD versus Fresno State.
For the Huskers to prevail, they will need to get off to a quick start, pressure Wilson and limit mistakes. Nebraska cannot afford any turnovers against this solid Wisconsin squad.
This will be a very tall order for the Cornhuskers, as the Badgers have won 12 consecutive home games and 27 of their last 30 games at night.
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, who dusted off the Wildcat formation last week against Wyoming, better have a few tricks up his sleeve. Otherwise, the Badger faithful will have plenty of reasons to "Jump Around."
Congratulations to the undefeated Wisconsin Badgers as they spoiled the Nebraska Cornhuskers' Big Ten debut with a convincingly dominant 48-17 victory.
Russell Wilson made a huge statement, passing for 255 yards and two scores while Montee Ball ran roughshod through the Huskers' D. Ball finished the game with 151 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
The Badgers are clearly the Big Ten favorites at this point, but will need help to enter into the national championship picture.
Next week, the 5-0 Badgers host 1-4 Indiana, while 4-1 Nebraska hopes to bounce back from this crushing defeat by welcoming the Ohio State Buckeyes to Lincoln, a week after a disappointing 10-7 defeat at the hands of Michigan State.
It's possible that the Badgers and Huskers could meet again in the Big Ten championship though, after tonight's debacle, that will be the last thing on coach Bo Pelini's mind.
Wisconsin's massive offensive line has worn out the Nebraska defense.
Arm tackles won't keep anyone out of the end zone–especially Montee Ball as he cruised for his fourth rushing touchdown.
The Badger defense forces the Huskers to attempt a FG on 4th & Goal, instead of risking coming away from the red zone with nothing to show for it.
The Huskers tried to get back to basics and run the ball, but a failed exchange between Martinez and center Mike Caputo, killed what little momentum they had mustered.
Three Martinez interceptions have led to 27 unanswered points by Wisconsin.
A game that seemed to be competitive early has clearly swung the way of the Badgers.
Give Wisconsin's defense a lot of credit, forcing Martinez into bad decisions.
This was one thing that Nebraska couldn't do and have a chance to pull off the upset; lose the turnover battle.
After a great opening quarter by the Huskers, it's been a second quarter to forget for NU.
One more INT by T-Mart, leading to another Wilson TD toss, will, most likely, put this game out of reach for Nebraska.
Camp Randall should be going insane as the Huskers receive the second-half kickoff.
Martinez is starting to self-destruct.
Two of his last 3rd down pass attempts have resulted interceptions resulting in long, Badger TD strikes.
Wilson is clearly exploiting Nebraska's secondary.
NU penalties are starting to mount.
Can Pelini pull his team together?
Beautiful play-fake by Wilson, taking advantage of some of Nebraska's inexperience in the secondary and Martinez' poor decision which resulted in an INT.
Abbrederis' beautiful catch gives Wisconsin the lead.
What defensive struggle?
If it wasn't for Crick blocking an extra point, Ball's second touchdown of the night would have tied the game.
Who knew that Martinez could pass this well?
He's completed 5 of 7 attempts for 89 yards.
Burkhead scores his eighth TD of the season from one yard out.
Wisconsin answers with a scoring drive of their own.
Wilson displays his scrambling ability and the Badgers' running game flexes their muscles.
Montee Ball scores his tenth TD of the season on 1st & Goal after a 91-yard scoring drive.
Nebraska does exactly what they had to do; control the tempo and get on the board first.
Martinez fails to get into the end zone on second down but scores cleanly after the initial play was overturned.
Taylor Martinez was lucky to recover his own fumble as the Badgers' D harassed him on third down.
But the first big play belongs to Nebraska after recovering a fumble on Wisconsin's first punt return.
Russell picks up a huge third down, diving away from an unblocked Crick, only to be sacked by an unblocked Lavonte David on the very next third down attempt.
Nebraska's D answers the bell early.
It won't be long before we see which quarterback can live up to the hype; the ultra-accurate Wilson or the unpredictable, quick strike capable Martinez.
The national media and the bookmakers clearly favor Wisconsin, despite Lee Corso donning the corn head (much to the displeasure of the assembled Badger fans).
Let's just hope that this is a competitive game, worthy of the marquee status.
While you sit back and enjoy the fireworks, don't hesitate to join the conversation and share your own insight.
With College Gameday in Madison, the excitement surrounding the game is accelerating rapidly.
So far, the split between the Nebraska and the Wisconsin signs jockeying for position, looks pretty even. The Badgers' fans seem to be a bit surprised by the sheer amount of the Husker faithful who have descended upon Mad-town.
A few additional keys to the game:
Martinez is going to have to get the ball to all of Nebraska's young playmakers (Ameer Abdullah, Aaron Green, Braylon Heard, Jamal Turner, etc.) and not be overly reliant on his legs–or Burkhead's legs for that matter. It is imperative that Martinez spread the ball around.
Don't expect the Huskers to be intimidated on the road. They have won nine of their last ten road games.
However, Nebraska is only 2-15 in their last 17 games against Top 10 opponents.
One of the key match-ups will be Wisconsin's WR Nick Toon vs. Husker CB Alfonzo Dennard. With Dennard freshly recovered from injury, look for Wisconsin to test him early.
Though Martinez is known primarily for his running ability, Russell Wilson is the national leader (since opening day in 2010) when rushing for first downs on 3rd & 5 or longer.
While Nebraska's defense is getting healthier, Wisconsin will be without two defensive starters, junior DE David Gilbert and junior SS Shelton Johnson.
So far in 2011, Nebraska's strength of schedule has been 69th in the nation; Wisconsin's? 148th.
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