Kelly Erickson, Ian McCue, Elliot Hughes and Nick Korger, the finest sportswriters the Badger Herald has to offer, will be covering the game from Indianapolis as the Wisconsin Badgers try to win an unprecedented third-straight Big Ten title in the Big Ten championship game against Nebraska.
Also joining the Badger Herald ranks are photographers Andy Fate and Kelsey Fenton, who offer their two cents with the rest of the sports writers on their predictions for this year’s conference title game.
Kelly Erickson – Kelly is a senior writer covering her second Big Ten championship game. The former Herald sports content editor offers her keen insight on Wisconsin’s next challenge.
I’ve always said I’m not one for predictions. I think it comes down to the fact that I don’t entirely enjoy being wrong (I’m stubborn that way). But that being said, besides Wisconsin’s less-than-appealing end to its regular season it has a great shot at that third Big Ten title. The Badgers are facing a tough Nebraska offense who bested them just over two months ago, but that said, the Badgers are a completely different team now. Not only do they have a different leader under center, they also have a defense that has seen major minutes and has evolved into a tough unit that allows only 18.1 points per game, second-best in the Big Ten.
I think the Badgers have just a good of a chance to win as the Huskers do despite the fact that Nebraska is the obvious favorite. Just like last year, they’ll right that regular season wrong.
Ian McCue – Ian is a senior and the current sports editor at the Badger Herald. The leader of the hapless group of BH sports writers, McCue offers his prediction on tonight’s game.
The Huskers are a much better team than the one the Badgers faced more than two months ago, Taylor Martinez a more effective passer leading the Nebraska offense. Wisconsin’s defense has certainly improved since that heartbreaking Big Ten opener, but there’s a reason Nebraska has only one conference loss to UW’s four. If the Badgers want to keep this competitive, Montee Ball needs to find room between the tackles early and often.
This one will stay close throughout, but Wisconsin’s inability to close out games will continue to plague the team. And believe it or not, I foresee overtime again. Nebraska takes this one in the first overtime on a 19-yard designed draw for Martinez into the end zone.
28-21 (OT) Nebraska
Elliot Hughes – Elliot is a fifth-year senior and former sports editor of the Badger Herald. This will be the second Big Ten Championship game he has covered and offers his salty veteran opinion on Wisconsin’s shot at the Rose Bowl in Indy.
Obviously, these aren’t the ideal circumstances Wisconsin was hoping for when they daydreamed about returning to Indianapolis over the offseason and throughout the regular season. This Badger squad is nothing quite like the 2010 and 2011 heavyweight teams that earned Rose Bowl trips. They finished third in their division, and, by all means, deserved it. Nevertheless, I’m picking Wisconsin to best Nebraska tonight.
All of their close losses (five decided by a total of 19 points) have seemed to incite more negativism than optimism in the press, but here is where I think all the frustration that came with them kicks in. The Badgers last three competitive games ended with loses in overtime and they were berated for it. They know people don’t think they deserve to be in Indianapolis and they’re painfully aware of their shortcomings. I think they’ll play as an angry team hungry to prove something. UW wins by less than a touchdown.
Nick Korger – Nick is the Herald’s current sports content editor. This is his first season covering the Badger football team and his first experience in Indianapolis. The fifth-year senior cues up his crystal ball and tries to predict the future.
It’s a pretty simple formula when it comes down to predicting this game.
If the Badgers control the clock on offense with maintained drives and don’t go three-and-out, they have a chance to win. If they don’t, the Huskers are going to run all over them.
With this being Montee Ball’s opportunity for a third-career Rose Bowl, something no Wisconsin tailback in history has ever achieved, I see the personal fire and determination of the senior to be the difference in this game. Even though he’s endured inconsistent line play and iffy play-calling, the senior is still a Doak Walker Award finalist for a reason.
Wisconsin hasn’t played a meaningful game since facing the Indiana Hoosiers, and with the Rose Bowl on the line, the team will wake up and surprise Nebraska.
Andy Fate – Besides being the one of the best photographers the Badger Herald has to offer as just a sophomore, Andy also likes to pretend he knows things about sports.
Key play: Beau Allen recovers a fumble and takes it 95 yards for a touchdown.
Kelsey Fenton – Kelsey is a senior photographer for the Herald and, besides secretly being in love with Joel Stave, likes to dabble in the fooseball.
Secretly, Joel Stave has made a miraculous recovery and will make a stunning return, leading the Badgers back onto the field after halftime. The Huskers will be so shocked and blinded by Stave and Allen’s lush golden locks that the Badgers will find it easy to secure their first win in overtime this year.
21-14 (OT) Wisconsin