Maybe it was the revenge factor. Maybe it was the new uniforms tailored for the primetime ABC match up. Whatever it was, Nebraska struggled early and often in the beginning of the game. Taylor Martinez bobbled the snap on the first play from scrimmage. Rex Burkhead fumbled the ball on the second possession, and before you knew it, the Cornhuskers were down 14-0. Mistakes plagued Nebraska in everyway possible in the first half.
Just as Nebraska was seizing momentum in the game, the Huskers ran into the punter for a personal foul. At the start of the second quarter you could see Wisconsin feeling a little discomfort with the Nebraska defense. After the penalty, a dejected Nebraska defense let up another score. This penalty led directly to a touchdown for the sure handed Jared Abbrederis. However, Wisconsin made one of their few mistakes in the game. They were wide left on the extra point to only go up 20-3. Eventually, late in the second quarter, Nebraska put together their best drive of the game, culminating in a three yard touchdown pass to Rex Burkhead.
The second half started the same way as the first. Nebraska had chances to move the ball after causing a three and out with stout defense. Then Wisconsin came up with a huge sack and fumble recovery in what could have been the biggest play of the game. Four plays later, Montee Ball rushed for his 3rd touchdown of the game, and Wisconsin had a 27-10 lead. Once again, Nebraska wasn’t able to deal with adversity on a quick change of possession.
Nebraska came right back down the field with a four play drive of their own, capped off by a 38 yard run by Taylor Martinez. Then the Huskers held the Badgers to another three and out, and the defense seemed to be getting stronger, stuffing the run on third downs. Nebraska’s ensuing possession resulted in another touchdown, as the dominant third quarter continued. Wisconsin had 17 offensive plays in the third compared to Nebraska’s 25. They also gave up 17 Nebraska points for a tie game going into the fourth. Wisconsin looked tired on defense, and out of sync on offense.
Early in the fourth quarter, Brett Maher made the go ahead field goal, to give the Huskers their first lead at 30-27. From there, the “Black Shirts” continued its dominance of the line of scrimmage, and wore down the Wisconsin Badgers. Fourth and one proved to be the final death nail in the coffin of the Big 10 champs, when back up quarterback Danny O’Brien fumbled the handoff to Montee Ball. There was no room to run, as Ball took his eyes off of the football.
Notes to take away from the game, is that Wisconsin definitely has a pretty good defense, but their offensive inconsistency leaves them on the field too long. The Badgers showed promise through the air, but despite the three rushing touchdowns, they were controlled on the ground.
Nebraska is a very talented team that should win most of their games. If they cut down the turnovers, they will have a chance to win the Big 10. Ameer Abdullah changed the game in the third quarter with his running ability. He also had an 83 yard kick off return in the first quarter. Taylor Martinez played one of his best games as a Husker given the magnitude of the game.
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