No. 12 Nebraska vs. Wisconsin (Big Ten Championship Game)
Saturday, 8:17 PM EST - FOX
Line: Nebraska – 2.5
For Nebraska to Win: Shutting down Wisconsin’s run game is vital. While Montee Ball was held to under 100 yards in these teams’ first meeting, he scored three touchdowns. Nebraska’s without arguably their best interior defensive lineman in Baker Steinkuhler which means Bo Pelini needs to get creative with his four and potentially five-man fronts.
Huge news came for the Badgers yesterday as Jared Abbrederis was cleared to play giving Wisconsin a major threat through the air. Look for the Huskers to play Bend but Don’t Break Defense® and rely on their potent offense. If they can hang onto the football, that’d be a plus, too.
For Wisconsin to Win: Force turnovers, run Montee Ball and get Jared Abbrederis in space against Nebraska’s safeties. Linebackers Mike Taylor and Chris Borland are just the guys to disrupt the Huskers’ offense. They have the ability to penetrate a sometimes shaky Nebraska offensive line and force Taylor Martinez to scramble both literally and mentally.
Ball’s involvement is self-explanatory as is Abbrederis’. Both have had success against Nebraska over the past two years. If Wisconsin can get Nebraska to a -2 turnover margin, the Badgers have a great chance to be victorious. If they force a -3 margin, they win.
Key Player, Nebraska: Mark Pelini, Center – Yes, there are two Mark Pelinis on Nebraska’s football team and yes, they are related. One stands on the sidelines, this one’s in the middle of the offensive line and both are equally important this weekend. Season-long starter Justin Jackson suffered a severe ankle injury against Iowa thrusting Pelini into the starting role. He’ll discover that Wisconsin’s line is far more challenging than what the Hawkeyes put across from him immediately.
Key Player, Wisconsin: <Insert Name Here>, Quarterback – Regardless of who steps under center for the Badgers, for Wisconsin to take home a second straight Big Ten Championship trophy, there has to be at least the threat of a passing game. Wisconsin has one of the worst in the nation, so fireworks aren’t going to happen, but the Badgers need to keep Nebraska honest. Said signal-caller might want to watch out for Nebraska cornerback Ciante Evans on a blitz or two.
Key Stat: 76.32% - Nebraska is ranked No. 25 in red zone conversion defense allowing 18 touchdowns and 11 field goals. Forcing the Badgers to trot their kicker onto the field is crucial to preventing the necessity for yet another comeback victory.
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