In Part 1 of our opponent Q&A with Corn Nation, several bloggers from The Other Side told us how impressed they were with Taylor Martinez and Nebraska's offense this year. Husker fans seem guardedly optimistic entering Saturday night's primetime matchup with Wisconsin, though as the Corn Nation guys also reminded us, they haven't forgotten what happened when these two teams met last year at Camp Randall Stadium.
Below is the second part of our Q&A, talking about any revenge factor that might carry over from last year, as well as how each team matches up and finally, predictions.
4. B5Q: Remember what happened last year in Madison? Had to sneak that in here. But for real, should any carryover effect/revenge factor be expected from the Nebraska side?
David McGee: Nebraska hasn't really played the revenge game very well (see the previously mentioned 2010 Texas game...). I don't think they've forgotten what happened last year, but I if that's what they're using as motivation, I'm not sure that's the best tactic going into this one.
Salt Creek and Stadium: I was there. I was laughing by the fourth quarter because what else do you do when your OC tries to pass with terrible receivers and a surprisingly decent secondary. (I wasn't impressed with your secondary going into the game.) Unfortunately, the comments coming out of the Nebraska camp don't inspire hope. As DM says, the Cornhuskers play the revenge card poorly and tend to come out either too anxious to make plays or flat as western Nebraska. And as we saw at both the Michigan and Wisconsin beat-downs, when this team starts panicking, things go south quickly. Unfortunately in the game against UCLA, that panic reared its ugly head. But then, you guys know all about panicking, right? (Had to.)
Jon Johnston: I was there too. Nebraska embarrassed itself and will be looking to make up for it. I don't think it's a feeling of "revenge" as much as it is not allowing that to happen again, especially at home. And hey, I grew up in Southwestern Nebraska, Salt. It's not flat. It's full of canyons, and the panhandle is full of grass-covered rolling sand dunes.
Husker Mike: I also remembered how close the game was the first 20 minutes or so. So I know Nebraska can play with Wisconsin...but not if we're going to make stupid mistakes.
Billgrip: Last year's game just sucked. As for how the players feel is anyone's guess, but I've gotten the vibe that this year's game is more about regret than it is about revenge. Nebraska just didn't execute well last year. It seems to me that the players see this as a do-over- a chance for them to play Wisconsin the right way and not leave the field wondering what could have been. If they do that, this definitely won't be the embarrassing blowout that was last year.
Aaron: This feels a lot like the Texas game in 2010. They were horrendous. We had them at home, on the ropes, and were doing a lot of finger pointing about the break up of the Big XII. We wanted it too badly and we found plenty of ways to let Texas win that game. This game feels very similar to that one. We should beat Wisconsin this year but will we?
Brian: One thing that people above me haven't mentioned is how Tim Beck, the Nebraska OC got ridiculously ignorant and put Taylor and the whole offense in some pretty terrible situations by going against the run. Beck "supposedly" has learned his lesson between then and now, but you can see how sometimes he gets in that rut. If he hastruly learned how to call a game start to end no matter what, Nebraska shouldn't have a offensive issue.
5. B5Q: As quickly as you can, how do you breakdown the advantages between these two teams on offense, defense, special teams, coaching staff, intangibles?
Defense: Probably Wisconsin, but I haven't seen enough of the Badgers to make a sound call there, more of a reputation pick than anything.
Special Teams: Nebraska: Kick to Ameer Abdullah at your own risk. Jamal Turner and Kenny Bell can make some plays back there too. I do seem to remember Wisconsin making some plays there too, so perhaps it's close. Maher's had his issues kicking. We were expecting him to roll out of bed and be the all american we were expecting. That hasn't been the case. So, I guess in the return game, I'll give Nebraska the edge, and in kicking, I guess I'll give it to the Badgers. I don't say that very confidently.
Salt Creek: Offense: Nebraska.
Defense: Tied. Neither team's has looked great. While Wisconsin didn't allow nearly 600 yards in a game, I'm not sure they've played many high powered offenses.
Special Teams: I've gotta go with Nebraska as well.
Coaching: Well, we didn't fire any coaches yet so I guess we've got the edge here.
Intangibles: Rex Burkhead is intangibles incarnate.
Jon: Nebraska, Nebraska, Nebraska, Nebraska, and.. Wisconsin. Had to give you one. Seriously, it's our game to lose. Our coaching staff is still intact from the start of the season, and it's a home game.
Husker Mike: On offense, both offensive lines stink this season. Nebraska's running back group is deeper, but Montee Ball (when healthy) is better than everybody else. And believe it or not, I think Nebraska's receivers are probably the best in the Big Ten; that explains why Taylor Martinez is tenth in the nation in passing efficiency. On defense, the Badgers have a clear advantage at linebacker. Will Compton, our best linebacker, would be on the bench in Madison. But I think Nebraska's secondary is better than Wisconsin's. Up front, Nebraska's d-line has underperformed, so edge Wiscy.
Billgrip: Offense I'll say Nebraska- way more weapons and better QB play so far. Defense I'll give to Wisconsin because your one loss didn't come because of epically bad defense. Special teams, Nebraska. That's assuming that 2011 Brett Maher comes to play and not this imposter we've seen in 2012. Coaching, Nebraska. I think Brett Bielema is a slightly better head coach than Bo Pelini, but I like Nebraska's staff overall more. Intangibles, tie. In theory Nebraska should have this one...home game at night, crazy fans, better alternate uniforms ;) ...but in recent years Nebraska has had a tendency to crap all over themselves in big games, so Wisconsin might have the intangible of just letting Nebraska self-destruct.
Aaron: On paper, Nebraska looks to be the better team all around. As far as the coaching comparison, it's probably too early to make that since UW has so many new coaches still melding.
Brian: Offensively, Nebraska is light years ahead of where Wisconsin wants to be. Defensively, both teams seem to be equal. Special teams I would say Wisconsin only cause Brett Maher isn't seeming to be at his clutch level he was at last year. Hopefully that changes soon. Coaching, with the turnover that Wisconsin has had, Nebraska probably does have an edge here.
6. B5Q: How welcoming will Huskers fans be to Badgers fans making the trip out to Lincoln? We'll bring beer!
DM: We'll play nice, smile and give you a hot dog. Don't worry, we'll say all the mean things behind your back.
Salt Creek: We'll also give you a beer. You should be sure to give Empryean a try while you're in town - while it's certainly not going to kick down any doors in Wisconsin, it's one of the better beers west of the Mississippi that I've tried. (You'll find it at Lazlo's in the Haymarket, near the half-completed arena. There's also another Lazlo's on the south side of town. Oh, and you MUST have the prime rib.) Try not to be too disappointed in tailgating deficiencies.
Jon: Nebraskans are always pretty welcoming, although it will be interesting to see how the two fan bases mix in Lincoln. I talked to plenty of Husker fans who said they wouldn't go back to Madison (fine with me, cheaper ticket prices) after encountering Wisconsin's vulgar students ("Fuck Nebraska" wasn't what they were expecting). If traveling fans bring that attitude with them they won't be attacked or anything, Husker fans will just look at them strangely, figure them to be misplaced Kansas State fans, and ignore them.
Husker Mike: What beer are you bringing? My wife is partial to Leinenkugel's...even though they tried to overcharge me at the Lodge in Chippewa Falls last month.
Billgrip: Lincoln is a great place. It's big enough to offer you almost everything you want in a football city, but small enough to feel like a safe community. We hope all the fans who make the trip down have a great time and are treated with respect. Just watch out for the occasional drunk idiot that will try to spoil your trip. Drink as much beer as you like, just be sure to save some for the rest of us please!
Aaron: Husker fans will love to have you in town, but please remember, no swearing back and forth across the stadium. It's considered rude.
Brian: The Friday before the game, head down to the ORIGINAL Misty's in the Havelock area. Best cuts of meat you can get in Lincoln (and that is sayin something) and the atmosphere is fantastic. Of course, after you consume a mass of prime rib from there, head downtown to O Street. My suggestions is the Single Barrel, where the Sidetrack Band plays and the Watering Hole. Gameday, hit the big parking lot to the East of the stadium across I-180. A plethora of special tailgates that will welcome anyone and everyone.
7. B5Q: Do you have a prediction?
DM: It will take about half of the first quarter to figure out which team is which. Once that gets settled, I think Nebraska's skill on offense wins out and the offensive line gives Martinez enough time to make plays downfield. Paper tells me Nebraska should win by a couple of touchdowns. I think it will probably be closer than that. I'll say Huskers by a touchdown or so.
Salt Creek: I think Nebraska takes the win but it will be a close game. Nebraska will likely struggle to get their offense in position but will eventually find their groove. You'll see plenty of all four I-backs as well as the fullbacks, wide receivers and tight ends taking carries. I think Wisconsin stands strong with the game being a low scoring affair until late in the third when Nebraska breaks through. I've got 31-24, Nebraska.
Jon: On paper, the Huskers look like they should win by two touchdowns, but I don't think the Badgers are just going to roll over and play dead. This one will be closer than Nebraska fans think. Nebraska 31, Wisconsin 27
Husker Mike: I wasn't quite ready to make a prediction, but since you asked. I think Nebraska's offense can score on almost everybody. But will they have to outscore Wisconsin? It really comes down to how effective Ball, White, and Gordon are running the ball. If Stave has to throw much on third and long, Eric Martin will be his daddy. But I don't figure that to happen much. So I'm going with Huskers 38, Badgers 24.
Billgrip: I'm tired of predicting Nebraska to win a game like this and then seeing them lose. I think they CAN win this game, but part of me feels like Wisconsin is better than everyone thinks. The homer in me can't pick the upset here, but I do think Wisconsin will play surprisingly well to start and will be ahead at halftime. In the second half Nebraska will play better and will come from behind to win. Huskers 31, Wisconsin 24
Aaron: I still have a bad feeling about this game. Nebraska should win it, but something just tells me that they make too many mistakes because they want it too badly. The only good to come out of the loss? Burning these uniforms. Wisconsin 20, Nebraska 17.
Brian: This is the trap, overconfidence game Nebraska has had an issue with (see the UT 2010 game). However, I do think Nebraska doesn't come out as flat as they have in those games before. I do think Nebraska wins (I don't do scores), but the game isn't as pretty as the uniforms.