Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE
After breaking down Nebraska's offense and what a Wisconsin upset would do to Husker fans, we take a look at what else can be expected on Saturday.
In Part 1 our Big Ten Championship Game Q&A with Corn Nation, a few Huskers bloggers told us how they've dealt with their own fair share of close calls, how Taylor Martinez has continued to progress and what impact the Week 5 win over the Badgers might have on Saturday's game.
Here, we talk Nebraska's defense and breakdown the other units that will take the Lucas Oil Stadium field will a Rose Bowl berth on the line. And yes, there's one bonus "thought." B1G title game style, baby.
5. B5Q: The defense, how good is it? How much better, if at all, is it from the first game? Nebraska is fifth in scoring defense (22.6 points allowed per game) and fourth in total defense (318.3 yards per game).
Aaron: Nebraska defenses under Bo seem to really gel as the year progresses. This year has been no exception. Once they learned what their job was and to trust the guy next to them to do their job, they have really played well. They will give Wisconsin yards on the ground this weekend in order to shut down your passing game. Our secondary will be waiting for your QB to make a mistake.
6. B5Q: We asked this before, but with everything that's transpired since -- how do you break down the advantages on offense, defense, special teams and coaching?
Aaron: Wisconsin will have their hands full on defense. They have three great receivers (Bell, Enunwa, and Turner), four great backs (Burkhead, Heard, Abdullah, Cross). two awesome tight ends (Ben Cotton and Kyler Reed) and you still have to keep an eye on Taylor Martinez. We lost Baker Steinkuhler last weekend to a knee injury. He is one of our studs on the defensive line. That, I believe, is the weak point that Wisconsin should try to attack this weekend. Run right at the Huskers with Ball and see what you can do. Special teams have been kind of rough this year. Our return game is non-existent, but we have covered well lately.
7. B5Q: Are any of you guys travelling to Indy? Is it fair to expect a 50-50 split at Lucas Oil Stadium? I was there last year and it was tough to say for sure, but the crowd looked more red than green.
James: I'll be in Indy, flying to Chicago from Los Angeles and driving over. I think the split will be 100% Red this time. Hah. I actually expect a decent Nebraska advantage. It sounds like Wisconsin returned more tickets to Ticketmaster than Nebraska did, and I'd guess Husker fans bought more tickets prior to and during the season. Let's say 45% Nebraska, 35% Wisconsin, 20% Seat-Fillers/empty seats.
Aaron: Still haven't decided. I like to go at the last minute, but then there's always the Rose Bowl possibility. I think that hurts the Big Ten in ticket sales for their championship game. As a fan, do you go to Indy or Pasadena?
Jon: I live in Minnesota and I'm not allowed to leave the state, except that I can travel to Wisconsin because of some reciprocity law. (You didn't think we were all going to answer these seriously, did you? There's a gob of us!)
8. B5Q: Finally, predictions?
James: This game is going to be very, very close. Wisconsin isn't turning the ball over much, Nebraska still has issues. Wisconsin returns all the players missing from their defense in October, Nebraska is missing key cogs on both lines. Nebraska's defense (particularly against the pass) has drastically improved since Week 5. Wisconsin's running offense and offensive line have drastically improved since Week 5. I don't like this prediction at all, and I could see this game going either way.
Ultimately, I think you look at these two teams over the whole season to determine who they are and what they will do. Nebraska is a team that pulls out close victories, rallies from behind and has leadership on offense. Wisconsin is a team that's lost five games narrowly and has only beaten one team over .500, Utah State. The Huskers will win this one, in one final game for the cardiac kids. Nebraska 31, Wisconsin 28.
Aaron: Can Wisconsin run right at Nebraska? If the Badgers can control the clock and the ball, they have a chance to keep Taylor Martinez and Co. off the field and beat the Huskers. If they go three-and-out a lot (which the Blackshirts have done quite a bit lately), it could be a rough night for Wisconsin. I think Nebraska is a more well-rounded team and if they keep the mistakes down, they should be hoisting the trophy. Nebraska 35, Wisconsin 21.
Jon: It won't be raining, snowing, and there won't be a heavy wind, so Nebraska will be fully able to utilize its offensive weaponry to out-trick the Wisconsite defense until Tim Beck gets stuck in a rut and calls the same toss sweep 23 times in a row resulting in allowing the Badgers back into a game with the Huskers leading 21-0 after the first one-and-a-half quarters.
Scream "WRETCHED FOE!!!" Husker fans will as Wisconsin mounts a comeback in the second half. The Huskers manage only nine points as Wisconsin scores 27, then approaches the goal line in the final seconds only to have a last-second pass attempt be ruled incomplete due to offensive pass interference, a call not made on the field, but from the money seats as Jim Delany rules that he desires not to see Wisconsin lose a third straight Rose Bowl as the Big Ten representative. I collapse in my chair and die, my wife thinking that "finally the gin has done him in", but the truth be told that I've sold my soul for but one more conference championship. It wasn't worth all that much in the first place. Nebraska 30, Wisconsin 27.