The Wisconsin Badgers officially welcome Nebraska to the Big Ten this weekend in the first Big Ten game in program history for the Cornhuskers. Badgers quarterback Russell Wilson will face the toughest defense he has seen this season in the game in what could be a Big Ten championship game preview.
It also happens to be our game of the week in the round table. Here are our thoughts. Feel free to share your thoughts and predictions for the game in the comment section below.
Nebraska heads to Madison, Wisconsin for their first Big Ten game in program history. For the Badgers it has been “All Russell Wilson Everything” but the Badgers have played solid defense, holding opponents to 34 points over four games. The Huskers have had their ups and downs but remain a perfect 4-0 heading in to a new era for the program. What will be some of the keys to this game, and share your prediction (score optional).
Sean Jackson, Ohio State Buckeyes Examiner: What a way to welcome Nebraska to the Big Ten, a night game in Madison. While the Cornhuskers have played in high profile games before, playing a night game at Wisconsin is a different animal. They must go out and make plays early. If they allow themselves to fall behind the pressure may get to them and the game could be out of reach before they realize it.
The Badgers are an excellent offensive football team, but I remain skeptical about their defense. While they have only given up 34 points, they haven’t played a good offense either. It will be interesting to see if the Badgers’ defense can make big plays as Wisconsin won’t have trouble putting points on the board, but they need to be able to put Nebraska in undesirable situations (3rd and long). If they can, they’ll win.
Ultimately, Nebraska is a good team but Wisconsin’s offense will be too much for them to handle.
Troy Hyde, Iowa Hawkeyes Examiner: There is a lot to be determined in the Big Ten Conference. While Wisconsin certainly looks the part and looks to be the best team, their non-conference schedule was a joke. This game will let us know more about how good each team is. I like the Badgers to win the game because they are at home. The key for Wisconsin to make Taylor Martinez beat them with his arm. If that happens, the Badgers will be in good shape. Wisconsin 31, Nebraska 23.
Kevin, National College Football Examiner: If this game comes down to the play of the quarterbacks, I might be inclined to give a slight edge to Nebraska with Taylor Martinez because I think I might have more faith in Nebraska’s defense than I do Wisconsin’s. I know the Huskers defense has not looked that great the past couple of weeks but I think with conference play here things might tighten up a little bit. And if that is the case, then Russell Wilson’s job this week will be considerably tougher than any other week this season.
Wilson has been the perfect addition for the Badgers this season, this cannot be denied, but the big question I have about him this season is what will he do against those Big Ten defenses, which are traditionally tougher than the defenses he routinely faced in the ACC at N.C. State. This will be a significant test for him early on, but I think he’ll pass and help Wisconsin notch a conference win.
When this wild night in Madison is done I think the Badgers will come out with a lower scoring victory than some might predict.
Gerald Nicdao, San Diego Sports Examiner: While Russell Wilson has shown why he has been the biggest free agent acquisition in football this year (NFL or college), Wisconsin still knows how to run the football. Montee Ball and James White are still in the Badgers backfield and together average 165.75 yards per game. Together, they average the most yards per game in the Big Ten.
Nebraska’s run defense, on the other hand, hasn’t been up to previous Huskers defenses. Nebraska is ninth in the Big Ten in rushing yards allowed per game, giving up 133.2 yards in its first four games. That includes 190 yards given up against Fresno State, 146 yards allowed against Washington and 137 yards allowed against Wyoming.
Both team like to run the ball. Both teams have relatively experienced quarterbacks. It will be a low-scoring and quick game Saturday night in Madison.
But if Nebraska couldn’t stop Fresno State or Wyoming from running the ball, then how are the Huskers going to stop Ball and White?
Wisconsin wins and declares its candidacy for the BCS title game.
Jordan Caldwell, Utah Utes Examiner: Wisconsin, in my mind, has the complete package right now. As always, they have an outstanding offensive line and running game. They have a star wide out in Nick Toon and this year Russell Wilson adds a new dimension the Badger offense. They have yet to play a top team, but they have handled each team, as they should, with the average margin of victory being 40 points.
Nebraska has a lot of talent, but hasn’t been overly impressive in any of their games. They don’t seem to have a traditional black shirt defense. They do, however, have a very good ground game. Wisconsin struggled a bit against the run against UNLV, but has only allowed 70 ypg on the ground over their last three games. On top of that, Wisconsin is only allowing 157 ypg passing. Although they haven’t played top competition, Wisconsin’s defense is good enough to shut down Taylor Martinez and the Nebraska offense.
Until Wisconsin slows down, I have no reason to believe that they can’t win all of their games. It won’t be the same offensive show this week, but I fully expect the Badgers to get the win in Camp Randall, 31-20.
Max Price, Oregon Ducks Examiner: A big key to this game is Russell Wilson, but I think the deciding factor lies in that Wisconsin defense. They have home field advantage and Nebraska is going to have to find a way to somehow fight through the Badgers, and I don’t see that happening. They don’t pass the ball particularly well, and while they may have a top ten rushing attack (8th in the nation,) who have they done it against? Four pretty lackluster teams. I’ll take Wisconsin’s defense over Nebraska’s offense, and it’s clear that Wisconsin’s offense can tear apart Nebraska’s D. The Badgers win this one, 42-24.
Schimri Yoyo, Big East Examiner: The key to this game is how Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez fares against Wisconsin’s defense. His play this season has been a bit erratic. If he can show the poise and discernment to know when to throw and when to run against the Badger defense, Nebraska will have a chance to win their Big Ten opener. Martinez must be able to at least match Wilson’s play.
Rich Kurtzman, Colorado State Rams Examiner: Wisconsin is legitimately one of the top teams in the entire nation. Their offense is number six in college football at 48.5 points per game, and their defense is even better allowing a mere 8.5 points per, good for third best in all the land. Russell Wilson is the key to this game, and he’s been on absolute fire this season. He’s thrown for 11 touchdowns and only one interception while passing for 1,136 yards.
But Nebraska is no slouch team either and the key to their potential victory is running the ball with a fury. Their dynamic duo of Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead have accounted for 841 yards and 14 touchdowns alone and are a big reason why the Cornhuskers are No. 8 in the nation in rushing yards per game at 272.5 per.
In the end though, Wisconsin is too good all around for Nebraska, and the Badgers will win the game, although it will be close.
Staff Predictions (season record)
- Caldwell (2-0): Wisconsin, 31-20
- Francis (0-4): N/A
- Hyde (0-3): Wisconsin, 31-23
- Jackson (2-2): Wisconsin, 31-24
- Kurtzman (3-0): Wisconsin
- Lealos (2-0): N/A
- McGuire (2-2): Wisconsin, 23, 17
- Nicdao (3-0): Wisconsin
- Price (3-0): Wisconsin, 42-24
- Yoyo (1-1): N/A
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