Game Day: Nebraska vs. Wisconsin

WORST NIGHTMARE

At 2-3, Nebraska coach Mike Riley is off to a rough start. Concerns abound. Injuries mount. Questions arise. Body language is studied. Tea leaves are read. The psyche of Husker football — coaches, players, fans — is vulnerable. And here comes Wisconsin, the chief instigator of Nebraska’s pain since NU entered the Big Ten.

READ MORE »

2-Minute Drill by Jon Nyatawa

Nebraska rush offense vs. Wisconsin rush defense

Nebraska's embracing the emergence of fullback Andy Janovich and freshman Devine Ozigbo. The elusive and shifty Terrell Newby is still the top rusher, but this appears to be a three-man rotation going forward. Since giving up 238 rushing yards in a season-opening loss to Alabama, Wisconsin is holding opponents to 2.1 yards per carry. The Badgers have allowed just 14 runs of 10-plus yards.

Nebraska pass offense vs. Wisconsin pass defense

Tommy Armstrong has the lowest completion rate (54.4 percent) of any quarterback ranked among the nation's top 25 in passing yards per game, but Indiana's the only Big Ten team averaging more yards per completion than Nebraska (13.5). Protecting him will be key. Joe Schobert and Vince Biegel can create lots of havoc. The Badgers have 15 sacks. But there might be just enough scheme-created windows for Jordan Westerkamp, Stanley Morgan and Brandon Reilly to get loose.

Wisconsin rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

There's no Melvin Gordon, the talented back who ran for 408 yards in three quarters against the Huskers last season. The player expected to replace Gordon, Corey Clement, is injured. So far, the Badgers have produced just four runs of 20-plus yards. They led the country in that category last year. Nebraska ranks 22nd nationally allowing 3.1 yards per carry — but they've faced an average of 27.6 rushes per game, the second-fewest rate in the country.

Wisconsin pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

Nebraska still ranks last in the country in passing yards allowed per game (353.8). But is Wisconsin capable of exploiting NU's weakness? The Badgers are without their top pass-catching tight end, Austin Traylor. Their No. 1 receiver, Alex Erickson, is questionable. Their quarterback, Joel Stave, has made 33 career starts, but he's also thrown 30 interceptions. Then again, though, the U-W play-action passing game tends to get receivers open. Stave may have some moments.

Special teams

Wisconsin's only recorded six touchbacks on kickoffs this year, but opponents' average starting field position is their own 21.0 yard line (second-best nationally). The Badgers are also holding teams to just 3.4 yards per punt return. The Huskers haven't been as sharp as they would like to be in the kicking game. Punter Sam Foltz enjoyed his best performance of the season last week. Nebraska's also hoping to get playmaker De'Mornay Pierson-El going again.

Intangibles

Confidence is shaken within the Husker locker room after three close losses — two of which could have easily been victories with proper game management down the stretch. But Wisconsin didn't begin the week with much positive momentum, either. The Badgers lost 10-6 to Iowa despite gaining 99 more yards and controlling the action after halftime. They need a win. But expect NU, boosted by the comfort of a home stadium, to play like the more desperate team.

Key matchup: Key matchup: Nebraska's wide receivers vs. Wisconsin's cornerbacks

The NU players know that the Badgers will shift coverages and try to keep them guessing. But whether it's zone defense or a man-to-man look, the Huskers are expecting one commonality from the Wisconsin defensive backs: a physical approach. The Badgers like to play an in-your-face and attacking style. They'll shove and grab. They push you around, if you let them. We'll see how Nebraska responds.

Our take

The reward for this Saturday's matchup was supposed to be a driver's seat position within a potentially jam-packed Big Ten West division race. Instead? It's all about survival. The loser goes to 0-2 in league action, a dismal (and perhaps fatal) start that neither team wants. Both the Huskers and Badgers are flawed, bruised and a little frustrated. Both can rebound now — but they'll need their play-makers to step up. NU appears to have just a couple more game-changers.

Our prediction: Nebraska 20, Wisconsin 17

Live updates

Videos

Extras

Live: TBL pregame, postgame

"The Bottom Line" pregame show with Mike’l Severe will start broadcasting live at 1 p.m. Saturday, then tune in after the game for a complete breakdown and call-in show with Mike'l and Joe Ganz. Click here »

Game notes

Check out a PDF of the game notes for the Nebraska-Wisconsin matchup provided by the NU Athletic Department. Click here »

Husker History

Find information on every win, loss and tie in Husker history. With historical World-Herald front pages, photos, stories, key stats and more, our ever-growing Husker History Database is your new home for archiving one of the nation's most tradition-rich programs.Click here »

On social media

Check out the Big Red Today page on Facebook to discuss the latest news with the top Husker fans, and follow us on Twitter to get instant updates and analysis whenever news breaks. Plus, look back at historical moments in Nebraska football by following @HuskerHistory on Twitter.

BRT app

IPhone and Android users, get your Husker updates on the go by downloading our free Big Red Today app from the App Store and the Google Play store. Omaha.com/BRTapp and Omaha.com/android

Recruiting updates

Visit the Big Red Today recruiting page to find the latest updates on potential future Huskers, including player cards for those athletes already committed. Click here »

Email alerts

Sign up for the Big Red Today email newsletter to get the Husker news, analysis, daily headlines and more delivered to your inbox. Click here »

Big Ten coverage

Look for additional updates on our Big Ten page to get the best coverage of the conference from both The World-Herald and some of the best writers from across the country. Click here »

Big Red Today coverage

Shatel: A near-perfect night for Husker fans filled with hope, frustration and euphoria

What a night to be alive in Lincoln. On a mild December Saturday night, the Haymarket was electric, buzzing with pride and excitement and anticipation.

Scott Frost's appearance at Nebraska basketball game sends fans into a frenzy

Few knew for certain the newly-hired coach would make an appearance Saturday night for the men's basketball game against No. 13 Kansas until the hanging video boards "froze over" during pregame introductions and began showing photos and clips of Frost's…

UCF's final games don't tell entire story of new Husker defensive coordinator Erik Chinander

Nebraska’s new defensive coordinator stressed takeaways and sacks in turning around UCF.

North Platte's Bryson Krull is Nebraska's latest preferred walk-on commit

North Platte senior Bryson Krull is a big, physical wide receiver with sure hands, and the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder is the latest in-state player to commit to walking on at Nebraska.

Another honor possible as Scott Frost is named one of seven finalists for the Dodd Trophy

Scott Frost is a candidate for another postseason honor.

Bellevue West lineman AJ Forbes, Millard West running back Brody Belt commit to walk on at Nebraska

Bellevue West lineman AJ Forbes has scholarship offers from virtually every Division II school in the area. On Thursday night Forbes committed to walk-on at Nebraska.

Lincoln Southeast's Bryson Williams will sign with Wisconsin despite late interest from Nebraska

Lincoln Southeast defensive lineman Bryson Williams has decided to shut down his recruitment and will not be taking an official visit to Nebraska this weekend.

Chris Weber becomes Nebraska football's 70th first-team Academic All-American

Chris Weber is Nebraska football's 108th Academic All-American — most of any program in collegiate athletics — and the 70th first-team selection. Nebraska also has a nation-leading 330 Academic All-Americans across all sports.

Recruiting: Decision for do-everything athlete Marcus Riley likely hinges on Nebraska visit this weekend

Marcus Riley has been committed to Louisville since July 2016. Until recently, he was strong in that conviction. Things got interesting when Riley was among the dozen or so offers sent out by Nebraska the day after Scott Frost's hiring…

TBL: QB commit Adrian Martinez confident he can help 'get this thing turned around' at Nebraska

Martinez said that Thursday during an interview on "The Bottom Line," less than 24 hours after he announced his commitment to Nebraska. He added that fans can believe in Scott Frost, and the Huskers will "work our tails off" for…

Scott Frost named 2017 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year recipient

It only took Scott Frost two seasons as a head coach to win one of the biggest honors in college football.

Nebraska keeps walk-on commitments rolling with Chris Cassidy, Jake Archer

Nebraska has added two more preferred walk-on commits. Lincoln Pius X senior Chris Cassidy informed The World-Herald of his commitment Thursday morning, and Omaha Skutt's Jake Archer announced his decision on Twitter.

Carriker Chronicles: Husker QB commit plus NU volleyball picks

All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Thursday's episode, Carriker is joined by one of his daughters to give his quick take to the Huskers' landing a QB commit, talk about how players react…

Long before cable TV, Husker fans stared at the side of a building and got 'live' coverage on the Grid-O-Graph – a miracle of modern technology

Imagine a time when you couldn't follow a Husker football game or know its outcome until the next day's newspaper landed on your doorstep. For diehard fans in the 21st century, that would be torture. In the first quarter of…

College sports programs could pay millions in new taxes under GOP proposals

Pending Republican tax proposals could put the squeeze on big-time college sport programs.

Recruiting: Diverse group will be on hand for new Husker coaching staff looking for speed

In less than two weeks on the job, Nebraska’s staff has sent out more than 70 known offers to prospects from the Class of 2018 and beyond. Players big and small. From the West Coast and East Coast. In junior…

Recruiting: Collin Shefke and Wyatt Liewer accept preferred walk-on spots at Husker event

Nebraska’s walk-on event Wednesday landed commitments from Lincoln Southwest’s Collin Shefke and O’Neill’s Wyatt Liewer. Liewer received a preferred walk-on offer Oct. 8. Shefke received his offer Wednesday.

Intrigue in Scott Frost, matchup helped UCF's bowl game become hot ticket for some Husker fans

Nebraska fans travel well. There was the invasion of Notre Dame in 2000. Taking over Northwestern in 2014. Tack on another badge: the constant presence at Central Florida games in 2017.

Recruiting: Husker walk-on event draws large response from in-state prospects

Nebraska sent out invitations and used the hashtag #HomeGrown to bring prospects to its walk-on event on Wednesday night.

Recruiting: Scott Frost’s staff thinking big with receivers for the 2018 recruiting class

Size. Nebraska’s new coaching staff clearly wants it from the receivers and tight ends who may join the Huskers’ 2018 recruiting class.

McKewon: Four quick takes on Adrian Martinez's commitment to Nebraska

Nebraska has landed Fresno (Calif.) Clovis West quarterback Adrian Martinez, who committed to the Huskers on Wednesday. Quick takes on Martinez’s decision and what it means for the Huskers.

Recruiting: Scott Frost, assistants doing double duty with help of red-eye flights

New Nebraska coach Scott Frost will have some story to tell after signing day. Frost has committed to lead Central Florida in its quest to finish an undefeated season and win the Peach Bowl over Auburn. That's one thing. He's…

Recruiting: Nebraska kicker commit Barret Pickering part of new coaching staff's plans

Barret Pickering has been busy. And that won't be changing anytime soon for Nebraska's reaffirmed incoming kicker.

Carriker Chronicles: John Cook on the Huskers' match against Penn State in the final four and more

All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Wednesday's episode, Carriker is joined by NU volleyball coach John Cook to preview the Huskers' match against Penn State in the NCAA tournament final four.

Adrian Martinez becomes Scott Frost's first quarterback recruit; Dual-threat QB will enroll early at Nebraska

Adrian Martinez — a consensus four-star prospect who’s a top-100 recruit according to ESPN — is now a Husker, announcing his decision Wednesday to pick Nebraska over Tennessee. He’ll enroll early at NU and try to win the starting job…

Pick Six Podcast: Early days of Scott Frost's Nebraska coaching tenure

World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon and Evan Bland tackle the hottest Husker headlines in the Dec. 12 episode of the "Pick Six Podcast."

Best of TBL, Dec. 12: Sam McKewon, Adam Carriker, Gibbie Duval and Mike Alessandro

Nebraska football recruiting and strength and conditioning were topics Tuesday on "The Bottom Line," when World-Herald staff writer Sam McKewon and former Husker Adam Carriker were among the guests.

Recruiting: Nebraska needs a great pass rusher, and a California junior college may have the answer

Sometimes, football players need a year to grow into their frames after high school. That’s the story of one Nebraska official visitor this weekend, City College of San Francisco pass rusher Jordan Allen.

Carriker Chronicles: Scott Frost, Huskers quickly hitting stride on recruiting trail

All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Tuesday's episode, Carriker talks about a busy Sunday in Nebraska recruiting news and what's next on the agenda.

Recruiting: Iowa Western offensive lineman Noah Banks doesn’t make Nebraska visit as planned

Iowa Western offensive lineman Noah Banks did not visit Nebraska on Tuesday as originally planned and is making other options higher priorities as the junior-college national signing day approaches.