It’s all been building to this week.
In a lot of ways, it feels like we have all been waiting for this game against Wisconsin since Nebraska lost to the Badgers in Madison last season in overtime, 23-17. Believe it or not, going into that game, Nebraska was ranked No. 7 in the country while the Badgers were sitting at 11th.
What a difference a year makes right?
Now Nebraska comes into this game at 3-2 on the season with the Badgers in the top 10 and undefeated. The Huskers are a double-digit home underdog for the first time since 20011 and have a lot swirling around the program while they search for a permanent replacement for former athletic director Shawn Eichorst. The last two seasons have seen the Huskers lose close games to the Badgers but could Bob Diaco hold the key to getting over the hump?
Not in the way you might initially think, though the defense will need to be stout on Saturday night in Lincoln. The question is, did the move to the 3-4 defense give Nebraska an edge in preparation against Wisconsin, which also runs the 3-4? Starting right guard Jerald Foster thinks the team has seen a lot of looks from Diaco’s bunch.
“I would say that with Coach Diaco he’s given us just about every look that you could possibly have so hopefully we don’t get surprised by anything that comes our way," he said. "We’re really able to adjust from whatever they bring. The 3-4 is a little difficult, I’d say a base four is a whole lot easier on your reads and key blocks and things like that, but with the time we’ve had on the 3-4 and now that being what we usually go against I think we’re going to have a good time against them.”
Quarterback Tanner Lee also thinks that going up against Diaco's 3-4 will help the team’s preparation leading up to the big game under the lights.
“It helps us out a lot, going against it in spring and fall camp especially for so many reps. It helps out our offensive line a lot in mixing up stunts and blitzes so that’ll help us out.”
It wasn’t just the players that believe seeing the 3-4 more often would help. Nebraska’s offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf also noted the potential importance of facing the 3-4 in practice during his post-practice availability with the media on Monday.
“I think just the fact that you’re seeing a 3-4 through fall camp, I kind of felt like it’s been easier to go transition from playing a 3-4 team to a 4-3 game in a week than it is to go the other way," Langsdorf said. "It’s been a real advantage, a real help for us. Out of the 3-4 you can get a bunch of different combinations of pressures. So, we’ve seen a lot of that throughout the last couple of months. I think having all of that experience at work against the 3-4 has been really good.”
Facing your teammates in practice is obviously different than squaring off against one of the best defenses in the country. In sports, teams are always searching for the latest edge and it can’t hurt at all that Nebraska now sees the defense that has given them problems on a daily basis. On Saturday night, we will see if Nebraska can do the thing they haven’t been able to do the last two years against Wisconsin – finish the game.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.