When last we saw Wisconsin, they were walking off the field after a 30-27 loss to the Huskers. Since then, the Badgers have gone 4-3, which doesn't look so good until you realize that all three losses were in overtime. Those three overtime losses were also to common opponents with the Huskers.
Against Michigan State, the Badgers never trailed until the final play of overtime. Andrew Maxwell tied the game with 1:08 left in the 4th quarter with a five yard touchdown pass to Le'Veon Bell, then won the game with a 12 yard touchdown pass to Bennie Fowler in overtime. Against the Spartans, the Badgers only ran for 19 yards net, with Montee Ball gaining 46 yards. Quarterback Joel Stave broke his collarbone in the first half, and was replaced initially by Danny O'Brien in that game. The next week against Indiana, senior Curt Phillips took over at quarterback
The situation was reversed against Ohio State, as Curt Phillips threw a five yard touchdown pass to Jacob Pedersen with just eight seconds left in the fourth quarter to tie the game. But in overtime, Carlos Hyde scored the game winning touchdown and the Badgers couldn't answer. Montee Ball ran 39 times for 191 yards while Phillips completed 14 of 25 passes for 154 yards.
On Saturday, it was another comeback by the Badgers as Phillips's four yard touchdown pass to Jeff Duckworth with :23 seconds left in the fourth quarter sent the game to overtime. But Kyle French's 44 yard field goal went wide right in overtime to give Penn State an emotional victory in Happy Valley. Ball rushed 27 times for 111 yards while Phillips completed 12 of 25 passes for 191 yards.
Prior to this season, Phillips hadn't played since the end of the 2009 season due to three surgeries to the ACL in his right knee. He was initially inserted into the lineup due to his mobility, but other than a 52 yard run against Indiana, he's lost more yards than he's gained rushing. For the season, he's rushed for 32 yards on 20 carries. So he's not likely to be the dual-threat quarterback that he may have appeared to be on the stat sheet from the Indiana game. For the season, he's completed 53% of his passes for 386 yards and four touchdowns in his three starts. Considering the two touchdown drives he's orchestrated to send games to overtime, he is a savvy veteran leader who doesn't make mistakes. Only one interception in 57 pass attempts this season.
Montee Ball was an easy pick to be an all-Big Ten selection this season; he led the B1G with 18 touchdowns and was second in rushing with 127 yards a game. Wide receiver Jared Abbrederis beat out Nebraska's Kenny Bell for all-Big Ten honors; he led the Badgers with 44 catches for 764 yards and five touchdowns. Tight end Jacob Pedersen caught 25 passes for 337 yards and four touchdowns. Redshirt freshman receiver Jordan Fredrick is third with 16 catches for 192 yards.
Wisconsin's defense is led by their linebackers. Weakside linebacker Mike Taylor was named first team all-Big Ten by the media, and leads the Badgers with 115 tackles (14 for a loss). Middle linebacker Chris Borland was honored by the coaches as first team all-B1G; he's third with 82 tackles (9 for a loss). Strongside linebacker Ethan Armstrong is second on the Badgers with 83 tackles. Senior cornerback Devin Smith is a second team all-Big Ten honoree; he's broken up 12 passes and and intercepted three this season.
Statistically, it's a matchup between the third and fourth ranked offenses and defenses in conference play, based on yardage; Nebraska's offense and Wisconsin's defense are third in the Big Ten, while the Blackshirts and Wisconsin's offense are fourth. This game might come down to turnovers once again; Nebraska is 10th in conference play going -6 in turnover margin, while Wisconsin is tied for third at +5.
For more on Wisconsin, please check out our Wisconsin preview prior to the September game as well as the Huskers report card from that game.