Game Day: Nebraska vs. Wisconsin

Within reach

Wisconsin is big and physical. But in Nebraska’s last two games against the Badgers, it came down to the smaller stuff. The Huskers have zero margin for error, know it, and will be a double-digit underdog at home. In an up-and-down year, NU isn’t supposed to win this game, but can it?

READ MORE »

2-Minute Drill by Sam McKewon

Nebraska rush offense vs. Wisconsin rush defense

The Huskers had better pack a lunch. Wisconsin’s run defense gives up just 2.43 yards per carry and has allowed just two runs of 20 yards or longer. The Badgers aren’t fancy against the run, they’re just consistent — consistently tough — with defensive linemen Conor Sheehy and Alec James and undersized-but-rawhide-tough inside linebackers TJ Edwards and Chris Orr. Nebraska has to be diverse in its run game and give carries to Mikale Wilbon, Devine Ozigbo and Jaylin Bradley. Nebraska’s offensive line has been better the last two weeks in wins over Rutgers and Illinois, but Wisconsin is a different kind of nasty. If Nebraska gains 100 yards on the ground, call it good.

Nebraska pass offense vs. Wisconsin pass defense

Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee wobbled badly through a three-game stretch in which he threw nine interceptions, but he righted the ship against Illinois’ secondary. That should help, as should a healthier trio of top wideouts in Stanley Morgan, De’Mornay Pierson-El and JD Spielman. NU’s receivers can make plays on Wisconsin’s secondary, which may be the best the Badgers have had in years but remains vulnerable because of the chances UW takes with its pass rush. The Huskers will have their hands full blocking Wisconsin’s front seven and its basket full of twists, stunts and blitzes. But if they can keep Lee protected, NU will have some downfield chances.

Wisconsin rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

The Badgers do what they do — they run the heck out of the ball with power plays and pulling offensive linemen and tough tight ends and fullbacks. In each of the last two games, Nebraska has actually held up against Wisconsin’s run game pretty well until the fourth quarter, when the Badgers got some chunk plays. NU defensive coordinator Bob Diaco’s preference for rotating players in his front seven should pay off coming into this game, but Nebraska’s linemen and linebackers haven’t faced a line that averages 322 pounds. UW running back Jonathan Taylor, though just a true freshman, is fast and big. Nebraska can’t let him find open space.

Wisconsin pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

Much depends on whether preseason All-America tight end Troy Fumagalli plays in the game. If he does recover enough from a leg injury to get in the game, Nebraska’s coverage assignment gets much harder, as Fumagalli is a giant, athletic target who can catch the ball over defenders. Wisconsin’s receivers — Jazz Peavy, Danny Davis, Quintez Cephus and AJ Taylor — are as good and perhaps a little better than Nebraska's receiving corps, and NU’s secondary isn’t as good as Wisconsin’s. That leaves the Huskers’ front to pressure Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook, the lefty with good touch but not much power.

Special teams

Nebraska has the more explosive returners (Spielman on kickoffs, Pierson-El on punts) while Wisconsin punter Anthony Lotti has often been excellent this season for the Badgers. NU kicker Drew Brown gets a slight nod over good friend Rafael Gaglianone — who wears No. 27 in honor of former Husker punter Sam Foltz — and Brown is one of the best kickoff guys in college football. Nebraska needs to find a way to steal a touchdown or some key field position here.

Intangibles

NU is 46-5 in home night games, and even if this is one of NU’s toughest, the Huskers have big recent wins (2015 Michigan State, 2014 Miami, 2009 Oklahoma) at night. Nebraska will be honoring the 1997 national title team and wearing alternate uniforms; the Huskers are 2-2 since 2009 in alternates at home. Wisconsin has a psychological advantage over every team in the Big Ten West. Since the West formed in 2014, Wisconsin has lost just one divisional road game — at Northwestern in 2014.

Key matchup: Nebraska’s offensive line vs. Wisconsin’s pass rush

The Badgers’ offense might be slowed some, but Nebraska won’t shut them down entirely, so, somewhere in the course of four quarters, NU will have to score some points and complete some passes. And Lee will only be able to do that if he has the time to do it. Look for the Huskers to throw some on first down to keep Wisconsin off-balance, but Lee has to make plays on third down.

Our take

Here’s the big one. Until Nebraska beats Wisconsin, the Big Ten West bully will continue to punch the Huskers with a power running game and a stingy defense. This isn’t the best NU team that’s come down the pike since 2011, but it’s probably not the best Badger team, either. Nebraska will need a quick start — Wisconsin occasionally can be sluggish early — and withstand the inevitable fourth-quarter UW surge. On the night Nebraska welcomes the 1997 national title team back to Memorial Stadium, the Huskers are game. They have a puncher’s chance.

Our prediction: WISCONSIN 24, NEBRASKA 20

Live updates

#Huskers on Instagram

Videos

Extras

Game notes

Check out a PDF of the game notes for the Nebraska-Wisconsin matchup provided by the Husker 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 Red Today coverage

Nebraska A.D. Bill Moos wants to 'get the CFP straightened out' by expanding to eight teams

Moos says the selection committee has to better follow its protocol to measure playoff-worthy teams.

Alcohol in Memorial Stadium? Husker A.D. Bill Moos considers allowing it in some areas

Moos knows there isn’t anything broken with the Memorial Stadium fan experience, but he wants to stay ahead of the curve.

Carlos and Khalil Davis are double trouble on Nebraska's defensive line — and in the discus ring

The Davis twins have loved their time at Nebraska and laud NU’s willingness to let two 300-pounders find their way, throw some discus and sack some quarterbacks.

Carriker Chronicles: Ralph Brown on how the Blackshirts can improve, Lamar Jackson's growth and more

On Wednesday's episode, Adam Carriker talks to former Blackshirt Ralph Brown about how the Huskers can improve on defense, how the defensive secondary can get better in 2019, Lamar Jackson growing into a leader, Nebraska memories and much more.

Former Husker outside linebacker Breon Dixon will transfer to Iowa Western

Former Nebraska outside linebacker Breon Dixon will transfer to Iowa Western Community College, Reivers coach Scott Strohmeier confirmed Tuesday night.

Recruiting: Iowa Western defensive lineman Perrion Winfrey eyeing visit to Nebraska

Iowa Western Community College defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey has offers from several of college football's giants — including Nebraska.

Former Husker Ndamukong Suh signs with Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Once one of the highest paid players in the league, Suh went more than two months as a free agent before finding a new team.

Dedrick Mills officially admitted to Nebraska, ready 'to get to work' in Husker RB race

Mills is now admitted to the school. He'll arrive Wednesday and immediately get to work.

Carriker Chronicles: Could the Big Ten get left out of the College Football Playoff again?

On Monday's episode, Adam Carriker breaks down the race for the College Football Playoff following spring practices and give his four-team prediction for 2019.

McKewon: Illinois coach Lovie Smith needs a quarterback and an improved defense

Lovie Smith and quarterbacks? They don’t go well together.

McKewon: Big Ten standings show improvement, but Bill Moos' rebuild of Husker athletics continues

The final standings are in and roughly half of Nebraska’s teams met Moos’ base standard of finishing in the top half of the Big Ten this season.

Receiver Demariyon Houston can run a 10.71 100 meters; soon he hopes to blaze trail with Huskers

Demariyon Houston, out of Oklahoma City's Millwood High, is a 100- and 200-meter champ. He also has great hands, maybe his biggest asset in college. Not to mention he was class president. He will be the first in his immediate…

Husker signee Dedrick Mills still aiming for May arrival to Nebraska

Nebraska running back signee Dedrick Mills said on Saturday that his grades from Garden City (Kansas) Community College are in, NU is reviewing his transcript and he believes he will be in Lincoln this week — perhaps by Tuesday.

McKewon: Football players get harsh lesson on NCAA transfer portal's unexpected reality

In less than a year, the NCAA’s transfer portal is already beginning to turn against the student-athletes it was supposed to help.

Big Ten makes more money than any conference ever has — and Nebraska reaps the benefits

According to a Wednesday report from USA Today, the league had nearly $759 million in revenue for the 2018 fiscal year.

Carriker Chronicles: A way-too-early preview of the Nebraska-Colorado game

On Friday's episode, Adam Carriker gives his way-too-early, just-for-fun preview of September's Nebraska-Colorado game.

Husker A.D. Bill Moos talks stadium expansion, improvement and basketball roster on radio show

Bill Moos wants to improve Memorial Stadium. But he won't expand it. The athletic director spoke for the final time of the 2018-2019 school year on Wednesday night. Moos said there is currently a proposal out there to put in…

Former Husker safety Cam'ron Jones lands at SMU

Former Husker safety Cam'ron Jones, who announced last month he's leaving Nebraska, is headed back to Texas.

Husker notes: Nebraska could see change in number of early kickoffs; NCAA to study player compensation

Fox announced this week it would place the best game from its weekly college football menu in the 11 a.m. CT slot.

Carriker Chronicles: When should kids start playing tackle football?

On Wednesday's episode, Adam Carriker shares his thoughts on kids playing tackle football, what age range they should start playing, flag football and more.

Pick Six Podcast: Husker baseball on bubble; Hoiberg's roster turnover; Football position rankings

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.

NU commit Noa Pola-Gates will train to play multiple positions, but views safety as his ‘niche’

When Noa Pola-Gates arrives in late May, it’s possible he could get trained at every position — defensive backs coach Travis Fisher has indicated that each of NU’s incoming defensive backs is versatile enough to do so — but he…

Former Huskers Jerald Foster, Freedom Akinmoladun sign with NFL teams after rookie tryouts

Offensive lineman Jerald Foster signed a deal Sunday with the Washington Redskins, and defensive lineman Freedom Akinmoladun inked with the New York Giants on Monday.

Public defender assigned in Maurice Washington case; plea hearing scheduled for June

Despite earlier reports that Washington entered not guilty pleas when he waived formal arraignment during an April hearing, there have not been any pleas entered in the case, said a Santa Clara County Superior Court spokesperson.

Timeline details Maurice Washington investigation and when Nebraska became aware of it

This timeline of events in the Maurice Washington investigation is based on allegations outlined in court documents, investigator reports and officials' statements.

Scott Frost talks culture, Jovan Dewitt's recovery during national radio show

Football coaches like to talk about culture, so much that it becomes a cliche. But it's still true that culture matters, and it's important to Scott Frost.

Carriker Chronicles: What are realistic expectations for the Blackshirts in 2019?

On Monday's episode, Adam Carriker talks about the youth on the Husker defense, their off-season additions and what realistic expectations are for the Blackshirts in 2019.

Husker football adds grad transfer Kanawai Noa, who could help fill need at X receiver

The 6-foot, 185-pounder had 96 career catches for 1,237 yards and six touchdowns over three-plus seasons at Cal.

McKewon: Three takes on Nebraska's graduate transfer commit Kanawai Noa

Nebraska received a graduate transfer commit Sunday from California’s Kanawai Noa.Three takes on the decision of the 6-foot, 185-pounder.

Husker running back Maurice Washington has second court date today. Here's what to expect

Nebraska running back Maurice Washington is set for his second appearance in a California court for charges filed against him in February.