Fifth Quarter Consensus: Badgers hand Huskers first Big Ten loss

The Predictions:

Louis Bien (+64): Wisconsin 31, Nebraska 27

Adam Hoge (+69): Wisconsin 34, Nebraska 20

Jake Harris (+69): Wisconsin 42, Nebraska 20

Sam Zastrow (+70): Wisconsin 31, Nebraska 20

John Veldhuis (+71): Wisconsin 35, Nebraska 27

Chuck Schwartz (+77): Wisconsin 30, Nebraska 20

Phil Mitten (+85): Wisconsin 30, Nebraska 27

Adam Tupitza (+87): Wisconsin 28, Nebraska 24

The Reasoning:

Through four non-conference games, Wisconsin looks the part of a national title contender, while Nebraska has underwhelmed. The Badgers are sixth in the country in scoring 48.5 points per game and third in the nation in allowing just 8.5 points per game. Quarterback Russell Wilson has thrown 11 touchdown passes with just one interception. Meanwhile, the Cornhuskers' allegedly vaunted defense has allowed an average of 22 points per game to four unranked opponents.

 

Injuries have hampered the Nebraska defense, but its three stud seniors will all play Saturday. Defensive tackle Jared Crick missed last week's game against Wyoming, but he recorded six tackles and a sack against Washington and increased his career total to 19.5 sacks. Linebacker Lavonte David made 15 tackles against Fresno State and has played in all four games this season. Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard is one of the best at his position in the country. He missed the first three games of the season, but played against Wyoming. The only reason he doesn't have more than four career interceptions is that opposing teams are afraid to test him.

Nonetheless, Nebraska has struggled to defend against the run this season, which means Wisconsin may try and establish the ground game early. Montee Ball is on pace for 27 touchdowns this season, while James White averages an absurd 6.7 yards per carry. Dennard will try and lock down the Badgers' Nick Toon, who has looked like an all-American with Wilson throwing him the ball. Toon is averaging 16.8 yards per reception and already has more touchdowns than he did all of last season.

The Badgers have been better than expected defensively, though it helps that they have generally played with big leads. Linebacker Chris Borland has adjusted to his new position at middle linebacker and appears more comfortable. All three linebackers will need to be disciplined against Taylor Martinez and the Huskers' offense. The one-two punch of Martinez and running back Rex Burkhead can terrorize opposing defenses. Burkhead matches White at 6.7 yards per carry. Martinez has struggle with his accuracy, however, and if the Badgers can force him to throw, their chances of limiting Nebraska's production are good.

Philip Welch may kick for the first time this season against the Cornhuskers. Alec Lerner cannot afford to kick the ball out of bounds on kickoffs against this offense. Nebraska's return man, Ameer Abdullah, is dangerous.

Who has the edge?

Offense: Wisconsin

Defense: Wisconsin

Special Teams: Nebraska

Coaching: Wisconsin

Intangibles: Even

Fun Facts

Nebraska is 3-2 all-time against Wisconsin.

Wisconsin leads the Big Ten in scoring offense and scoring defense.

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