Nebraska travels to Wisconsin on Saturday for its second road test of the season. The Huskers and Badgers are facing off for the Freedom Trophy for the fifth time in program histories. The trophy debuted in 2014.
The two programs have met seven times as Big Ten foes. That includes two meetings in 2012, when Nebraska and Wisconsin met in the regular season and again in the Big Ten Championship Game.
The matchup is also the Huskers' second road test in three weeks against a nationally ranked opponent. The Badgers are currently No. 16 in the AP Poll and No. 12 in the Coaches Poll.
Nebraska-Wisconsin football TV channel, time, live stream
TV channel: BTN (Kevin Kugler, Matt Millen, Rick Pizzo)
Time: 6:30 p.m. CT
Date: Saturday, Oct. 6
Live stream: BTN2Go
Radio: Huskers fans can listen to the Nebraska vs. Wisconsin game on IMG Husker Sports Network, as well as on Sirius Channel 126 and XM 384. Internet radio will be available at Huskers.com.
Location: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wisconsin
Weather: Considerable cloudiness with occasional rain showers. High near 60 degrees. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40 percent.
Nebraska-Wisconsin football picks, odds
The line: Nebraska +17.5, per OddsShark
Nebraska heads into the matchup with Wisconsin with an 0-4 record and an 0-2 mark in the Big Ten. The Huskers most recently fell to Purdue, 42-28.
Despite the loss to Pursue, the Huskers had a strong offensive effort against the Boilermakers. Nebraska gained 582 yards of total offense, with 259 rushing yards and 323 passing yards.
As for Wisconsin, the Badgers lost to BYU 24-21 on Sept. 15 after Rafael Gaglianone (a fifth-year senior kicker with a career 79.7 percent conversion rate) shanked a game-tying field goal wide left with 36 seconds on the clock.
So far that’s the only blemish. A preseason No. 5 ranking was probably a little overzealous for a team with Wisconsin’s profile coming into the season, but hey, how often are preseason rankings dead-on? The Badgers were looking at a 10-3 projection and through five weeks, FootballOutsiders.com has the projection at 9-3. So, they are who we (being nerdy statisticians and not pollsters) thought they were.
Wisconsin’s season has been carried by the offense through four games. It’s been more lopsided than most probably thought it would be heading in, but the offense has been pretty good. The Badgers rank fourth in the Big Ten in total offense despite being a horribly inexplosive unit, because they rank fourth in the country in success rate (54.3 percent).
Running back Jonathan Taylor is leading the nation in rushing at 157 yards a game and he’s doing it behind an offensive line that doesn’t get stuffed and hardly gets pushed around. Wisconsin is fourth in the country in stuff rate (just 9.9 percent of runs) and second in opportunity rate (when 5 yards are available, the offense gets 5 yards 61.1 percent of the time).
They run on standard downs and throw on passing downs. They’re terrible about getting guys in space (125th in percentage of solo tackles) yet still move the ball. They’re not explosive but make you regret it when you bring pressure. Death by 1,000 papercuts, I guess. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook is up to 800 yards passing, six touchdowns against two picks and has a 66.7 percent completion rate through four. They’ve been as expected.
The defense hasn’t.
Like I said, regression was expected but the Badger defense has just been weird. They’re 49th in S&P+ and 78th in success rate yet still boast the second-best scoring defense in the conference.
The Badgers have only produced three sacks in four games and the defensive line has a havoc rate that ranks 115th nationally. Meanwhile, the secondary and the linebackers are up in the top-20. They rank in the 90s on third-and-short success rate but can run-stop with the best of them (10th in stuff rate). Then that same front can’t get after the quarterback when he drops back.
They’re bad from their 30-yard-line to the 11 but have the second-best success rate inside the 10.
For a full look at Wisconsin, visit Derek Peterson's opponent preview on the Badgers.