Game Day: Nebraska vs. Wisconsin

A rivalry best served cold

No. 16 Nebraska and No. 20 Wisconsin play Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium for ?control of the Big Ten West. Friends Melvin Gordon and — if healthy enough — Ameer Abdullah will square off in part to see which running back is better in the Big Ten. But NU’s offensive and defensive linemen figure the Huskers and Badgers are playing for something more elemental at 2:30 p.m. on ABC. Something they think will decide the game. Who’s tougher? Who’s stronger? Whose imposition of will is fiercer?

READ MORE »

2-Minute Drill by Jon Nyatawa

Nebraska rush offense vs. Wisconsin rush defense

Wisconsin's seventh nationally in rushing yards allowed per carry (2.9) mostly because the Badgers have given up just five runs of 20 yards or more this year. They are quick and well-organized, but they haven't faced the nation's 10th-best rush offense yet. Ameer Abdullah's health is an issue, but for the past two weeks, he's been healing and Nebraska's presumably been developing a possible contingency plan. Could be a big day for Tommy Armstrong.

Nebraska pass offense vs. Wisconsin pass defense

Of the 71 quarterbacks who're averaging at least 200 passing yards per game, Armstrong has the second-lowest completion percentage (53 percent). He's throwing one interception every 28.3 pass attempts. Not good. Wisconsin's deceptive pass rush schemes will create some pressure on Armstrong, too (the Badgers have 28 sacks, second in the league). Plus, U-W has held opposing QBs to a nation-low 46.3 completion percentage.

Wisconsin rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

Melvin Gordon is the nation's rushing leader (1,501 yards), yet backup Corey Clement still averages 6.3 yards per carry. Tanner McEvoy, the part-time starting quarterback, gets 9.4 yards per attempt. Nebraska's giving up just 3.74 yards per carry and its talented front four won't be easy for Wisconsin to maneuver around – but NU's defense, only facing 33 rush attempts per game (12th fewest nationally), hasn't been tested like this.

Wisconsin pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

Joel Stave was indeed impressive in the first half against Purdue, throwing for 190 yards on 15-of-20 passing. Receiver Alex Erickson is by far the team's top pass-catching option, but the Badgers will spread the ball around. Tight ends and running backs are regularly used as well. The Huskers must be leery of play-action, but they appear to have the skill to match up downfield against this team. NU opponents are averaging just 5.8 yards per pass attempt (10th-fewest nationally).

Special teams

Start with De'Mornay Pierson-El. He has more punt return yards (441) than anybody and he's facing a team that's allowed 11.9 yards per punt return (114th nationally). Wisconsin's also averaged just 37.3 yards per punt (119th). The Badgers do have Kenzel Doe, who averages 11.6 yards on punt returns and 24.5 yards on kickoff returns. But NU ranks fourth in the Big Ten in net punting. Both teams are relying on freshman place kickers.

Intangibles

Bo Pelini's teams are 7-2 after bye weeks, so he and his staff know how to use the extra time and get their players prepared. And the Huskers are 20-6 under Pelini in November, so they're usually playing their best football at this time of year. But Wisconsin's 11-1 at Camp Randall Stadium under Gary Andersen. The Badgers overwhelmed Nebraska in Madison three years ago too. The Huskers don't always respond well in these big-time moments.

Key matchup: Wisconsin nose guards vs. Nebraska's interior linemen

Senior Konrad Zagzebski, injured against Purdue last week, is supposed to play. Sophomore Arthur Goldberg's proven to be a capable backup anyway. Lining up directing opposite of NU's center (or shaded just off his shoulder), they'll be spending Saturday afternoon trying to disrupt Nebraska's offense by creating pressure right up the middle. The Huskers must win at the point of attack.

Our take

It's two of the nation's top rushing offenses, each headlined by two of the best running backs who could deliver a highlight-reel moment at any time. Certainly, all eyes will be on Melvin Gordon and Ameer Abdullah (presuming he's healthy). So there's no sense to downplay the importance of Saturday's match-up. Aside from the Heisman Trophy audition, the winning team remains in control of its own destiny, the clear favorite in the West Division. So you can bet both Nebraska and Wisconsin will have plenty of motivation to play well. And we think the Badgers, at home, will make the fewest mistakes.

Our prediction: Wisconsin 34, Nebraska 31

Live updates

Live Blog Husker Talk Live: Game Day
 

Photos

World-Herald fan photos »

#Huskers on Instagram

Videos

Extras

Live: TBL pregame, postgame

"The Bottom Line" pregame show with Mike’l Severe will broadcast live Saturday from 1 to 2 p.m., then tune in after the game for a complete breakdown and call-in show. Click here »

Game notes

Check out a PDF of the game notes for the Nebraska-Purdue game provided by the Huskers 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 page is your new home for taking a look back into the history of 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.

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

Nate Stanley and Adrian Martinez are Big Ten rivals, but they 'can also be friends'

Nate Stanley and Adrian Martinez spent perhaps five minutes talking about Black Friday. After that, the Iowa and Nebraska quarterbacks got to know each other and become friends.

At Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon, Tom Osborne shows his pride in Scott Frost and Adrian Martinez

Former Nebraska coach and Athletic Director Tom Osborne was honored at the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon on Friday afternoon.

Huskers' Jack Stoll makes Mackey Award preseason watch list for best tight end

Nebraska junior Jack Stoll made the preseason watch list for the Mackey Award, which is given to the nation's best tight end.

Adrian Martinez handles turbulence the same way he does interviews — calm, cool and collected

The first session of Big Ten media days included Ohio State and Michigan State, but the story of Day 1 was Adrian Martinez and the Huskers.

Video: Scott Frost, Husker players at Big Ten media days

Scott Frost discussed Nebraska's 2019 expectations, where the Huskers are actively recruiting, Adrian Martinez's leadership and more at Big Ten media days on Thursday.

Shatel: Scott Frost may ignore the hype, but there's a reason it follows him wherever he goes

Nebraska went 4-8 last year, right? You’d never know it by hanging around the Chicago Hilton this week.

'Half of defense is energy, enthusiasm and hustle.' Blackshirts feel they've improved all three

The Blackshirts look back on their first year under Scott Frost and barely recognize the unit that finished among the worst in the country in most major statistical categories.

Big Ten notes: West coaches see improving division; Teams with unproven quarterbacks

Three coaches of Big Ten West schools spoke at Thursday’s Big Ten media days. All agreed their division is unquestionably on the rise.

Husker notes: Hoping for a healthy Cameron Jurgens; Transfers could be impact players

A full-go season from the converted offensive lineman would go a long way for the Huskers.

Husker Camp Countdown: No. 19 Kanawai Noa

The World-Herald is counting down the top 50 Nebraska players you need to know heading into the 2019 season.

Scott Frost says Huskers will 'wait and see' before making decision on Maurice Washington

Nebraska has yet to make a decision on the status of running back Maurice Washington, and coach Scott Frost said that could continue to be the case all the way until the Aug. 31 season opener.

In his final media day, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany touts positive future as he bids farewell

After Delany’s opening statement — dedicated to thanking his family, staff and various partners of the league — reporters had plenty of blue collar, bottom-line questions for the commish.

Former Husker De'Mornay Pierson-El signs for second stint with Oakland Raiders

Pierson-El had previously joined the Raiders for a few weeks in April before getting waived.

UNLV assistant, former Husker Barney Cotton on waiting list for heart transplant

Barney Cotton will not coach for UNLV this season due to health concerns.

Husker football facilities are 'functional' but 'don't fit the mold' of what Scott Frost is building

While the Huskers’ current setup is “perfectly functional,” Frost said Thursday at Big Ten media days, he gets why there are conversations to build a new facility.

Complete transcript of Husker coach Scott Frost's appearance at Big Ten media day

A complete transcript of Nebraska coach Scott Frost's appearance at the main podium during Big Ten media day.

Nebraska's JD Spielman on Biletnikoff Award watch list for nation's best receiver

Spielman is coming off a sophomore season in which he caught 66 passes for 881 yards and eight touchdowns.

'The hype is good': Bill Moos bullish for second year of Husker football under Scott Frost

Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos wants all the preseason praise the media wants to give Husker football in year two of the Scott Frost era.

Big Ten media days: Scott Frost praises Adrian Martinez. 'I wouldn't trade our guy for anybody'

Scott Frost made it to the podium to take some questions at Big Ten media days. Here's what he had to say.

McKewon: Elusive on-field success, Jim Delany's last go-round and 8 other storylines at Big Ten media days

Even if the money is rolling in for each conference team, on-field success — be it in CFP berths or Heisman Trophy winners — has been elusive. Commissioner Jim Delany won’t have to address those issues much longer.

Bland: Husker Hype in Chicago, national media meets Adrian Martinez and more Big Ten storylines

As a tidal wave of expectations continues to rise for the Nebraska football season, at least one question will find an answer Thursday at Big Ten media days.

Husker Camp Countdown: No. 20 Ben Stille

The World-Herald is counting down the top 50 Nebraska players you need to know heading into the 2019 season.

Big Ten summer series: Nebraska-Wisconsin among 12 games to circle on the calendar

They’re the games you circle on the Big Ten calendar for their implications in the league race ... or just because they might be fun.

Husker Camp Countdown: No. 21 Damion Daniels

The World-Herald is counting down the top 50 Nebraska players you need to know heading into the 2019 season.

Nebraska DBs coach Travis Fisher touts true freshmen, newfound maturity of Husker secondary

Nebraska secondary coach Travis Fisher won't limit the potential of his four freshman defensive backs one bit before their first training camp.

Pick Six Podcast: All eyes on Adrian Martinez, Scott Frost and Jim Harbaugh at Big Ten media days

World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon, Chris Heady and Evan Bland tackle the hottest Husker headlines in the latest episode of the Pick Six Podcast.

Former Husker kicker Alex Henery reminisces about favorite punts, the Colorado kick and more

Alex Henery is set to join three other Husker greats in the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame this fall. But first he joined host Mike'l Severe and "The Bottom Line" on Tuesday.

Nebraska's Adrian Martinez, Mohamed Barry selected for preseason watch lists

Senior linebacker Mohamed Barry became the second player in two days to be named to a preseason watch list.

Husker Camp Countdown: No. 22 Mike Williams

The World-Herald is counting down the top 50 Nebraska players you need to know heading into the 2019 season.

Overall ratings for every former Husker in the Madden 20 video game

There are 26 former Nebraska players on the game at launch, with enough at each position to field a starting 11 on both sides of the ball.