The Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-5, 3-4 B1G) quest for bowl eligibility continues to Madison, Wisconsin as the Huskers will face off against the Wisconsin Badgers (5-5, 3-4 B1G) on Saturday. The Badgers are in a similar situation as Nebraska, as they are one win away from playing in the postseason. Wisconsin and the Huskers are deadlocked in a five-way tie for second in the Big Ten West, with a chance to win the division if the Iowa Hawkeyes lose the next two.
This game is crucial for both teams and should be exciting to follow during Saturday primetime. Here is a preview of Wisconsin football.
Know the Foe: Nebraska Football vs. Wisconsin
2023 Season So Far
Like Nebraska, the Badgers hired a new coach in the offseason. Head Coach Luke Fickell was brought to get Wisconsin into the national conversation and somewhat rebuild the program. There was hype going into the 2023 season, and the AP voters could see it, too, as the Badgers opened up the season ranked No. 19.
Let’s say they haven’t lived up to the hype. After winning against the Buffalo Bulls 38-17 to open the season, Wisconsin traveled to Pullman, Washington and lost to the Washington State Cougars 31-22. They didn’t let the loss affect them too much, winning three straight before hosting the Iowa Hawkeyes. However, things changed. The Hawkeyes shut down the Badgers, defeating them 15-6, starting a downward spiral for Wisconsin. Since their 4-1 start, the Badgers have lost four of the last five, including losing three straight. Luckily for Wisconsin, the Big Ten West does Big Ten West things with a close battle for the honor of representing the West for the last time in Indianapolis for the Big Ten title.
Senior quarterback Tanner Mordecai leads Wisconsin’s passing offense with 145/224 passes for 1383 yards with 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Mordecai hasn’t played in all of the games, though, missing three games due to injury. Freshman Braedyn Locke stood in for him, completing 76/152 passes for 777 yards and 5 touchdowns with only 1 interception. However, the biggest threat is junior running back Braelon Allen, who is destined for the NFL in either of the next two off-seasons. Allen ran all over the Huskers in 2021, rushing for 228 yards and 3 touchdowns. So far in 2023, he has rushed 133 times for 757 yards and 8 touchdowns despite missing 1.5 games due to injury.
On the defensive side of the ball, junior safety Hunter Wohler leads the team in total tackles with 92. Wohler also has a sack and 2 interceptions in 2023. Sophomore linebacker Darryl Peterson leads the team in sacks with 4.5 on the season. Sophomore cornerback Ricardo Hallman has done well picking off opposing quarterbacks with 5 interceptions on the season, leading the team in that category.
The Badgers are tied for 24th for scoring defense as a team in the country, averaging 19.6 points allowed on defense. Wisconsin is tied for 33rd for total defense, allowing 333.1 yards a game on defense. The Badgers are also in the upper half of the country in rush defense, only allowing 135 rushing yards a game.
The Huskers and Wisconsin’s previous matchups date back to Nov. 11, 1901, when the Badgers won 18-0 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Wisconsin owns the overall series with 12 wins compared to Nebraska’s four. The Badgers have a nine-game winning streak against the Huskers from the 2012 Big Ten Championship to 2022.
Speaking of last season, Nebraska and Wisconsin battled in a frozen wasteland, where the Huskers held the lead until 35 seconds left in the game. Now Florida junior quarterback Graham Mertz ran it into the endzone on a quarterback sneak in a comeback victory for the Freedom Trophy.
The rivalry returns to Madison, Wisconsin, at Camp Randall Stadium, where Nebraska hasn’t won since Oct. 8, 1966. There are many questions on who will be at quarterback for the Huskers. Last week, in the loss to the Maryland Terrapins, the Nebraska faithful saw all three scholarship quarterbacks struggle with turnovers. With possibly a serious ankle sprain for sophomore Heinrich Haarberg, junior Jeff Sims or sophomore Chubba Purdy could get a chance to start. Haarberg still hasn’t been ruled out, and head coach Matt Rhule has said it will be a game-time decision with who starts at the position.
There is a lot to look forward to in this year’s matchup, especially with both teams sitting with five wins, only needing one more win to make it to the postseason. The Huskers and Badgers face off Saturday Night, Nov. 18, at 6:30 p.m. CST on NBC.
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