Containing Ball remains Nebraska's biggest test
Nebraska and Wisconsin face off on Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium for the Big Ten Championship and the right to play in the Rose Bowl.
The Cornhuskers will be looking to beat the Badgers for the second time this season after quarterback Taylor Martinez led a 17-point comeback on September 29 following an awful start by the Huskers. The dual-threat signal-caller, who ran for 107 yards and threw for 181 yards and two touchdowns, led four straight scoring drives against a Badgers defense that wore down in the second half, as the Huskers claimed a 30-27 victory. Bo Pelini's squad overcame a variety of mistakes, including a Rex Burkhead fumble, a roughing-the-kicker penalty and a Martinez fumble early in the third quarter that helped give the Badgers a 27-10 lead.
Below are some highlights of Martinez from the first meeting this season, courtesy of the CollegeFootballLive YouTube page.
Besides the strong play of "T-Magic" in the second half, a big reason why the Huskers were able to win the first meeting was because the defense continued to make stops after the team fell into a deep hole.
US PRESSWIREMontee Ball is the key to Wisconsin's offensive attack.
Montee Ball, who fumbled at midfield on a fourth-and-1 when the Badgers were trying to tie or win the game, was held to just 90 yards on 32 carries. However, he did find the end zone three times, scoring from the 2-yard-line twice and also plunging in from the 1. But overall the Huskers did a good job of containing Ball and forcing the Badgers to put the game in the hands of quarterbacks Joel Stave and backup Danny O'Brien. Nebraska held the Badgers to 90 total yards in the second half, and Bret Bielema's squad recorded just 56 rushing yards for the game.
However, it is important to note that in that first meeting Ball was coming back from a head injury suffered the previous week. And while he was cleared to play, you wonder if that had an effect on his game, similar to the dropoff in production Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein experienced after he suffered a head injury against Oklahoma State.
Bottling up Ball remains the top priority for Nebraska in this Big Ten rematch, especially because Pelini and Co. want to force new Badgers starting quarterback Curt Phillips to beat them through the air. Phillips has played well since becoming the starter, and his story is truly inspirational. He's come back from numerous serious injuries to finally assume the starting job, and he'll have a chance to send the Badgers back to the Rose Bowl with a win.
But if Nebraska is able to contain the Badgers' rushing attack once again, the Huskers will likely be heading to Pasadena because they won't dig themselves a 17-point hole as they did in the first meeting.
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