MADISON, Wisc — What can you say at this point that hasn't already been said?
Seriously. That's a legitimate question. Because the things that led to Nebraska's 41-24 loss on the road against No. 16 Wisconsin (4-1, 2-0 Big Ten) Saturday night are the same things that have caused a 0-5 start to the season.
Nebraska was out-executed firmly Saturday in a game that was 3-0 after the first quarter.
Blame the penalties. The Huskers were flagged 12 times in this one. Which shouldn't come as a surprise because they've been flagged at least 10 times in every game this season. Seven of them were on the offensive line. Nebraska would get drives rolling and then get flagged for holding and things would stall out.
Blame it on special teams. Nebraska's average starting field position was at its 23; Wisconsin's was at its 32. The Huskers returned just two kickoffs and never got a chance to return a punt. A three-year starter at punter in Caleb Lightbourn was benched in the first half because when he wasn't hitting punts smack down the middle of the field he was shanking them out of bounds.
Blame it on turnovers. Wisconsin fumbled once, which means both teams had a turnover but Nebraska hasn't won that battle once this season. And they haven't been coming at great times either. The Huskers fumbled midway through the third quarter with a chance to get a 17-point lead to 10. Wisconsin scored on the ensuing drive.
Blame it on a cold offense early and freezing cold defense late. In what's becoming a trend, Nebraska's defense kept it in the game (for the most part) early on and once the offense finally woke up, the defense fell apart. Wisconsin scored touchdowns on four of its final five possessions if you toss out the one-play kneel down to end the first half.
Nebraska moved the football, too. It totaled 518 yards of offense. Wideout JD Spielman had his second-straight 100-yard outing with nine catches for a school-record 209 yards and a score. Quarterback Adrian Martinez went 24-for-42 for 382 yards and two scores with another 57 rushing yards. It's the third time this season Nebraska has gone over 500 yards of offense and lost.
Head coach Scott Frost said after the Purdue loss that kind of thing can't happen. Well, it keeps happening when you give up 40-plus points and continue to commit penalty after penalty. Saturday's game marked the sixth time in Nebraska's last eight outings the defense has surrendered at least 40.
Next up is a Northwestern (2-3, 2-1 Big Ten) team that just beat a ranked Michigan State squad 29-19. The Huskers and Wildcats kick off in Evanston on Oct. 13 at 11 a.m. CT.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.