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Badger Bits: Time to Step it Up, Defense

If Wisconsin wants to ensure a spot in the Rose Bowl, it's the defense that will have to step up and be the difference between a Badgers victory or a disappointing end to a long season.

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Tom Lynn

Say what you will about the sanctions that are preventing Ohio State and Penn State from being in the Big Ten Championship game, those are now irrelevant as the 7-5 Wisconsin Badgers (4-4 in the Big Ten) face the 10-2 Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-1 in the Big Ten) for the right to play in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.

I think that if you look at a box score; you can really see what one team was able to do in order to win. This is especially true in the first game between these two teams in September, and while the score was very close (30-27 Nebraska), the stats; at least one major category, was not as close as one might think.

In the first game Nebraska was able to rush for 259 yards on the ground, including an impressive 5.6 yards per carry. While on the other side Wisconsin rushed for just 56 yards on 41 carries, that’s a dismal 1.4 YPC, despite 3 rushing touchdowns by Montee Ball, he averaged just 2.8 YPC, which is rarely a formula for success. In just two games this year the Nebraska offense has been held for under 200 yards rushing this year. Leading rushers QB Taylor Martinez and RB Ameer Abdullah are averaging over 5 yards per carry this season, and senior Rex Burkhead is averaging a mind-blowing 7.5 YPC.

In their seven wins this year, the Badgers defense has only allowed 90 yards per game, in 5 losses they have given up an average of 140 YPG. If the Badgers are hoping to not only keep the game close, but win the Big Ten Championship, it’s going to have to be the effort of their defense stopping the Huskers running attack that will lead them to Pasadena in January.

Friday’s Links:

Ticket sales are not where Big Ten Football officials were hoping they would be the night before the title game at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Are there really similarities between Taylor Martinez & Curt Phillips?

If you watch the Pac-12 Championship and Big 10 Championship tonight and tomorrow, you will be sure to see a lot of similarities between the two broadcasts.

Wisconsin is one of ten schools with something to prove this bowl season.

ESPN’s Big Ten Thursday Mailbag

An interview with former Badger FB Cecil Martin, talking about his memories in Wisconsin, as well as how he feels the program has changed since his time there.