Nick Toon was on fire Saturday, but he has yet to face a challenge like Nebraska.
I know you're excited, and I can think of couple of reasons why. Two top 10 teams, at night, College Gameday, two fanbases in love with silly headgear and greasy spoon cuisine, football, etc. Based on early-season returns, Saturday's game could be a preview of the B1G Championship Game at the end November, and at the very least it is shaping up to become one of those hallowed events that go on to be remembered someday as a fond musty memory in the musty annals of must. Something that makes you say "I was there." The only issue is the game itself, which, according to some, may not even be that close.
Wisconsin opened the week as eight point favorites, according to oddsmakers. To put that in perspective, Texas is a nine-point favorite over Iowa State, and Notre Dame is giving just 13 points to a bad Purdue squad. And the line is moving, up to 9.5 points as of Monday. That's a big spread for what are, by the rankings, two evenly matched teams.
Judging by fan reactions, the Cornhuskers aren't much more confident either. Nebraska has struggled at times on both sides of the ball against inferior opponents. Especially in the first halves of games. Nebraska outscored Fresno State, Washington and Wyoming just 48-40 combined before intermission, eventually beating all three teams handily. A vaunted defensive front ranks just 56th in the FBS giving up over 133 yards per game on the ground, and the team is still trying to cultivate some consistency out of quarterback Taylor Martinez.
Something that KennardHusker wrote over at Off Tackle Empire last week has me worried though.
I don't love this hunch, but when you hear things like, "They threw out a whole bunch of formations we have never seen," over and over, you start to think that Nebraska was looking ahead. Bo and Carl know how to get defenses motivated and in place. If I am Wisconsin, I would be nervous that Nebraska has an entire defensive scheme prepared they have never seen. If you don't believe me, watch Missouri last year. They thought the defense was down as well. It didn't end well for them.
Nebraska did essentially the same thing last year before before beating 14th-ranked Oklahoma State and 6th-ranked Missouri last year. See their 17-3 win over hapless South Dakota State. They also unveiled some plays with Rex Burkhead out of the "Wildcat" formation that should give the Badgers pause on defense. Based on what we've seen, Wisconsin is favored for a reason. But the idea that Nebraska has been playing possum this entire time has me sleeping a little uneasier.
Your week in superfluous stats via the Journal Sentinel.
Delayed Kneejerk Reactions has got me excited for this weekend.
Corn Nation gives their breakdown of Nebraska's win over Wyoming.
Badgers Roundtable is back to break down the non-conference schedule and look ahead to Nebraska.
Badgers break the seal on their turnover drought against South Dakota.
Steve Sipple and Brian Cristopherson from the Lincoln Journal-Star sit down with Tom Mulhern and Tom Oates to break down the game.
Tom Mulhern and Jim Polzin wrap up the South Dakota game. Plus, player interviews.
Tom Oates writes that the Badgers will need to step up their game in order to beat the Cornhuskers.
Seriously though, I am like way excited for this weekend.
Tickets prices are going bananas. Thank god I already found a seat.
Badgers basketball added a good one over the weekend, landing Bronson Koenig out of La Crosse over the likes of Duke, North Carolina and Marquette.
Wrapping up: Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill will be taking a step back from coaching for a bit after suffering recurring seizures in the days following his collapse on the sideline against New Mexico State. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery for the ball coach.