Wisconsin Football: Report Card Grades for Nebraska vs. Wisconsin

Sean LansingContributor IOctober 3, 2011

Wisconsin Football: Report Card Grades for Nebraska vs. Wisconsin

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    Nebraska might be having second thoughts about leaving the Big 12 and coming north.

    Russell Wilson, Montee Ball and the Wisconsin Badgers dismantled the Huskers in their Big Ten debut on Saturday night in front of a sell-out crowd at Camp Randall Stadium and millions of college football fans watching on TV.

    After a couple of quick scores, Taylor Martinez and the Husker offense sputtered.

    On the other side of the ball, Nebraska's Blackshirts defense never stood a chance.

    Wisconsin is now the clear favorite in the Big Ten, and you have to believe that Bo Pelni's team isn't exactly looking forward to a potential rematch with the Badgers in Indy at season's end. 

Quarterbacks: A

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    Russell Wilson’s numbers to start the season weren't just a product of his competition.

    He is good, very good.

    Wilson did miss a couple of throws, but after making big plays out of nothing with his feet (one rushing TD) and passing for 255 yards and two scores in the Badgers’ blowout win over the Huskers, he is without a doubt worthy of Heisman hype. 

Running Backs: A+

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    It took five weeks, but Montee Ball has established himself as the go-to back in Wisconsin’s offense.

    The junior was spectacular (151 yards and four TD’s while averaging five yards a pop), and Wisconsin’s ability to run the ball for big chunks opened up the passing game for Russell Wilson and his receivers.

    Defensive coaches across the Big Ten can look forward to a lot of sleepless nights over the next couple of months while they search for ways to stop the Badgers’ balanced attack.  

Wide Receivers: A

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    The Nick Toon and Jared Abbrederis Show continued Saturday at Camp Randall as the Badgers’ top two targets accounted for 190 yards receiving and two scores.

    The only thing keeping this unit from another perfect grade in Week 5 is a drop from Toon on a deep ball that would have went for six.

    Overall, Russell Wilson’s playmakers were near-perfect yet again.

Offensive Line: A

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    The Nebraska Cornhuskers and their Blackshirts Defense pride themselves on hard-nosed, smash-mouth football.

    On Saturday, it was the Badgers who won the battle up front.

    Although the Huskers were able to generate a pass rush with some consistency, Wisconsin ran for 231 yards and Wilson was on his feet enough to turn in another game changing performance.

    With Josh Oglesby back and healthy, the Badgers again have one of the nation’s top units.

Defensive Line: A

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    Wisconsin gave up 159 yards on the ground, but they did hold Taylor Martinez and Nebraska’s high-powered option attack to just 3.7 yards per-carry.

    For the Huskers to win games, Martinez needs to successfully orchestrate Nebraska’s run-first, pass-second offense.

    The Badgers’ defensive line didn't let that happen, and Wisconsin rolled. 

Linebackers: A+

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    Chris Borland (eight tackles) was his normal, steady self, and Mike Taylor (14 tackles, one interception) might be the best linebacker in the Big Ten

    Stopping the option is not easy, but Wisconsin’s linebackers properly executed their assignments all game long, and the Huskers never got it going on offense. 

Secondary: A+

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    Wisconsin dared Taylor Martinez to beat them with his arm, and the Badgers’ secondary kept him from delivering.

    The Nebraska signal-caller was just 11 of 22 for 176 yards passing, and both Aaron Henry and Antonio Fenelus picked him off.  

    With the game effectively on the line during Nebraska’s first second half possession, the Badgers’ got an interception that led to another score and that led to the nail in Nebraska’s coffin.

Special Teams: B

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    A solid performance overall, but kicker Philip Welch had an extra point blocked and Jared Abbrederis fumbled a punt return that led to a Huskers’ score.

    Punter Brad Nortman finally got some work, kicking twice for a respectable 41.5 yard average. 

Coaching: A+

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    Saturday night’s matchup between the Huskers and Badgers might have been the most-hyped game in Bret Bielema’a career as the Wisconsin head coach.

    On a night when a lot could have went wrong, almost everything went right.

    The Badgers were dominant, and Bret Bielema’s team officially established themselves as the class of the Big Ten and a serious national title contender. 

Intangibles: A+

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    By completely dismantling the Huskers, Wisconsin moved into the top five and put the rest of the country on notice that they one of college football’s elite teams.

    The Badgers have a well-deserved bye week now before playing host to the woeful Hoosiers.

    There is no reason to believe that Wisconsin won’t be 6-0 before a couple of road showdowns with the Spartans and Buckeyes in late October.