While the Big Ten football season should be a month old by now, we are still stuck in neutral waiting to kickoff. The Wisconsin Badgers and the rest of the conference don’t get going until October 24, but we can’t really wait that long to start talking about football. It is time to start previewing Wisconsin’s opponents now!
The Badgers will play eight games in the regular season, all six division opponents and two cross-division opponents, and then a ninth game on B1G Championship Sunday against their place-doppelgänger from the East.
Let’s continue our preview series off with the most uselessly litigious team in the B1G West...Nebraska!
Team name: Nebraska Cornhuskers
Location, stadium: Lincoln, Neb., Memorial Stadium
Head coach (years with team): Scott Frost (three years at Nebraska)
Coordinators (years with team): Matt Lubick (offensive coordinator, first year at Nebraska), Erik Chinander (defensive coordinator, three years at Nebraska)
2019 record, place in division: 5-7 overall (3-6 in Big Ten), No. 5 in West
2019 result vs. Wisconsin: (L) 37-21
2020 game date vs. Wisconsin: Saturday, October 31st, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.
Three key departing players: ILB Mohamed Barry (leading tackler with 89), WR JD Spielman (leading receiver, 49 catches, 898 yards, five TDs, transferred to TCU), DL Khalil Davis (45 tackles, eight sacks, his twin brother Carlos also graduated)
Three key returning players: QB Adrian Martinez (149-of-251, 1,956 yards, 10 TDs, nine INTs, 626 rushing yards, seven TDs), WR/RB/ATH Wan’Dale Robinson (340 rushing yards, three TDs, 40 catches, 453 yards, two TDs), CB Dicaprio Bootle (31 tackles, six passes defended)
Overview of team: The Huskers were a trendy pick to win the Big Ten West last year, and even started conference play 2-1 with the loss being to Ohio State, but they lost five out of their last six games and weren’t even bowl eligible, a place they haven’t been since Frost was the head coach.
While Nebraska lost leading receiver JD Spielman, they do return a number of skill players, including leading rusher Dedrick Mills, that should make the offense dangerous. The danger level rises if Martinez is able to return to his freshman year form under center. They have a veteran offensive line and secondary which will help anchor their respective units as well.
Here is what Jon Johnston of Corn Nation has to say about his Huskers:
Despite the lack of a proven receiving corps, the offense will rise to be one of the best in the nation. The offensive line is much improved and finally has some depth. The quarterback position has great potential, as do the running backs.
The defense needs to find some more playmakers and add some depth. Those pieces are slowing coming together, but they’re not close to being a championship-caliber defense. Hell, they’re not very close to being an average defense, but one can hope. We need OLBs pretty badly, and we need defensive linemen. A good rush end or OLB would go a long ways to making this lousy defense average.
50% of the 155-man roster are freshmen and redshirt freshmen. There is a lot of youth, which is indicative of how badly Nebraska needed to turn over the roster. The Huskers are slowly rebuilding, but I expect them to surprise people this season.
Prediction for 2020 game vs. Wisconsin: The Badgers have owned the Huskers since Nebraska joined the conference and there is no reason that ownage shouldn’t continue this season. 35-20, to the good guys, sounds about right for this game.