There is nothing better to do during a bye week than dive into statistics and make rash assumptions with them. Now with the Nebraska Cornhuskers coming to town, let’s take a look at some key numbers related to the Wisconsin Badgers.
While I won’t discuss the difference in winning percentage between that of the Badgers and the Cornhuskers because that’s a little obvious, let’s dive into the statistics that won’t offend Nebraska fans.
Let’s start with 6.82. Thats the average yards per rush (Yds/Rush) that the Brigham Young University Cougars had in their upset win over the Badgers at Camp Randall. Wisconsin’s defense was eviscerated by the BYU running backs. The Badgers, however, bounced back against Iowa the next week in a big win, holding the Hawkeyes to a meager 4.77 yards per carry.
For a defense that is 50th in rushing defense even after that abhorrent game against BYU, the Badgers have to play more like they did in the earlier weeks. They look to take on a Nebraska rushing attack that ran for 259 yards this past Saturday against Purdue and doesn’t have much for a passing threat. The Wisconsin front seven must neutralize the Husker’s running game to take care of business in their first home game since the upset.
From rushing to passing, the next number is 67. In a crucial drive with 5:40 left in the fourth quarter, junior quarterback Alex Hornibrook picked apart the Iowa defense. He finished the drive completing all five of his attempts for 67 yards and a touchdown. Dare I say, the Wisconsin quarterback looked elite.
This game winning drive paired with his performance in last year’s bowl game shows why Wisconsin fans are continuously optimistic about Hornibrook. However, inconsistency continues to plague him when it matters most. Alex Hornibrook needs to perform well every week to get the national recognition that Wisconsin football is starving for. The possibility of throwing a Heisman hopeful running back, an exceptional offensive line, and a legitimate passing threat at defenses each week would do wonders for the Badgers in college football playoff conversations.
Our final key number is 22. Over the past two years, the Badgers are 1-2 when scoring under 22 points and 15-0 when hitting that mark. Yes, this is more noise than signal but it does highlight Wisconsin’s deficiencies and strengths.
Save for a few exceptions, Wisconsin still shouldn’t put Hornibrook in a position where he needs to win the game. Rather, the Badgers need to take advantage of Jonathan Taylor and the run game. Taking an early lead will force Nebraska to abandon the running game and play catch up football (Spoiler alert: they aren’t good at that). Getting up early and having the game script feature a Heisman level running back and play action will save many years on the lives of Wisconsin fans everywhere.