This year could see a flip of the script as Wisconsin is limping into this contest with struggles at the quarterback position and Montee Ball falling well short of his performance a year ago when he was a Heisman finalist and scored a ridiculous 39 touchdowns.
Ball suffered his second concussion in seven weeks in last weekend’s game vs. UTEP and had to leave the game, but will play in this game. I am just not so sure he will have much of an impact and could see two or three players on Nebraska gain more yards on the ground than him for the night.
The Badgers offense is awful at best ranking 102nd in points per game and has not looked in any game this season despite their 3-1 record. They very well could be 1-3 right now.
Nebraska comes into this game with a lot of momentum outscoring their last two opponents 115-20 and looks very reminiscent of the Tom Osborne teams of the past with a dominating rushing attack, ranking 5th in the nation in rushing with 317.5 yards per game behind the efforts of Taylor Martinez, Rex Burkhead, Ameer Abdullah, and freshman Imani Cross. The Huskers ground game has been hellacious for opposing defenses to try and slow down.
Nebraska is subsequently 8th in the nation in points per game, putting up 48.5 points per game and the maturation of quarterback Martinez has been the main reason for that success.
Martinez has been stellar this season completing greater than 70% of his passes and leads the conference in passing efficiency. His play has been even more remarkable when you factor in star running back Burkhead has been on the sideline with a knee injury for the bulk of the season.
With Burkhead back last week they scored 73 points as Burkhead looked healthy on his way to passing the century mark in yards and I think he will be the focal point of the offensive attack vs. Wisconsin on Saturday.
I think revenge will be on the minds of Nebraska and will look to give the Badgers a taste of their own medicine and run the ball down their throats and impose their will on the Wisconsin defense all night.
With Ball likely to be less than 100% and no steady presence at quarterback, I think it will be a long night for the Badgers as they will try to limit the Nebraska offensive juggernaut below their season average of 48.5 points.
The Wisconsin defense has no answer for Martinez or Burkhead and Nebraska is going to look to inflict punishment on Ball and make him wish he did not suit up for this game.
Final score: Nebraska 45-Wisconsin 17
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Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports and avid college football fan, and the host of “The Wake-up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here.