At this point in the season, most college football fans would say that they have a pretty good read on most teams. Early season miscues are often pretty much taken care of by this point of the season, and most would say that they have a pretty good sense on most teams.
Had you asked any college football fan what would happen on Saturday when the Nebraska Cornhuskers traveled north to Camp Randall to take on the Badgers, most would’ve guessed that the Badgers would run all over the ‘Huskers defense and that Nebraska would make it a very close game but come up just short.
Well, that is exactly what happened as Wisconsin narrowly escaped defeat by a score of 35-28. As per usual for the Wisconsin-Nebraska series, Wisconsin’s lead tailback ran up and down the field on the Cornhuskers defense. The Badgers defense, who came into the game ranked atop the national leaderboards, made timely plays, including senior Collin Wilder’s two interceptions.
The game started with a bang, as Matt Lepay would put it. Stephon Bracey, who had previously missed most of the season due to injury, took the opening kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown to start the action.
Offensively, Wisconsin’s true freshman, who is merely seventeen years of age, racked up 229 yards rushing on only 22 carries and scored three of Wisconsin’s five touchdowns on the day. Braelon Allen’s trajectory continues to point ever upward as the Badgers are now on the cusp of making the Big Ten title game, and his play on this winning streak has been ever so critical in that achievement.
The ever-talented Adrian Martinez, Nebraska’s senior quarterback, similarly had a field day on Wisconsin’s defense. Wisconsin, who had boasted the number one defense in the country, was torn up by Martinez, who made off-schedule play after off-schedule play. Most of his targets went to Nebraska tight end Austin Allen, who totaled 143 yards receiving. Samare Toure, Nebraska’s lead wideout, also caught seven passes for over a hundred yards and a touchdown.
Nebraska has had one of the best bad seasons in recent memory as they’ve lost every single one of their eight losses by single-digits, including matchups against highly ranked opponents such as Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio State. Even though this is a list season for them and the program is in disarray, one would normally expect this type of season to lead to future success.
Wisconsin got all they could handle in the game on Saturday, and it was known early on that this would have to be an offensive shootout where it would be on quarterback Graham Mertz and co. to sneak out a win. They would prove to be just effective enough to seal the game for Wisconsin, as Mertz extended his recent stretch of efficient, quality play with 12/18 passing for 145 yards and a touchdown to Kendric Pryor on a well-thrown ball to a deep dig.
Wisconsin’s winning streak has now extended to seven games as the Badgers are now 8-3 and looking to wrap up regular-season Big Ten play this coming Saturday in Minneapolis against the Gophers for the annual Battle for the Axe. The University of Minnesota is obviously Wisconsin’s biggest rival, and this game should prove to be a thrilling matchup.
Wisconsin-Minnesota will kickoff at 3 p.m. in Minneapolis on ABC, where the Badgers can clinch the Big Ten West title with a win over the Gophers and punch their ticket to Indianapolis for a chance at the Big Ten Championship where they will play either Michigan or Ohio State.