The No. 16 University of Wisconsin Badgers will host the Nebraska Cornhuskers Saturday at Camp Randall as Wisconsin eases off of a bye week and into the meat of their Big Ten schedule.
Nebraska (0-4, 0-2 Big Ten) could be the biggest disappointment in college football this season. There were lofty hopes for the Cornhuskers, as the program was thought to have gained a major coup by acquiring Head Coach Scott Frost from last year’s Peach Bowl champions, the undefeated University of Central Florida Knights.
Instead, it seems like Nebraska gained a coach whose acumen has thus far only been proved on the back of UCF’s elite dual-threat quarterback Mckenzie Milton and has been unable to deliver early on in his put-up or shut-up position in Lincoln.
Football: Taylor’s season starts off strong, but strong enough for a Heisman?The University of Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor has been a victim of his own excellence. After submitting one of Read…
The Badgers used this off week to refuel and reenergize after a tumultuous start to the season that saw the preseason No. 4 team in the country fall to Brigham Young University and look weak at various times throughout the other three games.
This Saturday shouldn’t be too much of a test for this Badgers team as they will look to extend their win streak over Nebraska to six consecutive games, but it could shed light on some questions that have surfaced five weeks into the young season.
The young Badger secondary has had a bumpy start to the season to say the least. One sure-fire way opposing offenses have been able to take advantage of the uncharacteristically mild Badger defense has been deep through the air.
This is largely due to the inexperience of cornerbacks Faion Hicks and Caesar Williams — a redshirt freshman and a sophomore, respectively — and the very green redshirt freshman Scott Nelson, who, despite bright spots that may provide glimpses at future stardom, has lacked the lock-down consistency the cardinal and white usually expect from their safeties.
D’Cota Dixon has been unable thus far to use his veteran status as a redshirt senior with four seasons of valuable playing time to impart a calming influence on the secondary.
They’ll have an excellent opportunity against the Cornhuskers to find their form, as this undisciplined Nebraska team has had little success through the air — well, they haven’t had success anywhere for that matter. They’ve got a rookie quarterback marching out Saturday in Adrian Martinez who has averaged a decent 177.3 yards per game but has just three touchdowns, which match his three interceptions.
Despite Nebraska’s meager fortunes this season and the Huskers’ record against Wisconsin historically — not to mention the fact there is not a soul on the Nebraska roster that has ever been victorious in a contest against the Badgers — Martinez is unafraid to say the Cornhuskers want to unseat the divisional kings.
“I think that is everyone’s goal obviously, to beat Wisconsin. It is something we need to do,” Martinez said. “They are a tough team that rules on our side of the division, I think, for a little while here. They are definitely a team that I think we’re aiming to take off.”
Facing off against Martinez will be the Badgers’ junior quarterback Alex Hornibrook. He’s the owner of a cool 158.9 passing efficiency rating, which is good enough for second in the conference. Hornibrook has quietly been putting together a strong resume this season: 60-of-90 for 800 yards and a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 6-2 in four games.
Opposing quarterbacks have fared quite well against Nebraska, averaging almost 250 yards a game, and Hornibrook is arguably the best they will have faced. It seems like this weekend is poised to play host to an exclamatory game from Hornibrook.
It seems redundant, but I’d feel remiss to not mention that running back Jonathan Taylor has the potential, as he does each week, to put up some crooked numbers in the rushing game against this weak Nebraska defense. Scott Frost is not known for his defensive acumen in the first place — last year UCF was middling in that category at its best — and Nebraska doesn’t look to be half the team the Knights were in any regard.
This Saturday night should be a fun display from a Badger team that has a week of pent-up football waiting to explode in front of a raucous Camp Randall crowd.