Football: Wisconsin rebounds after slow start, defeats Nebraska in overtime thriller

Badgers gain bowl eligibility, Freedom Trophy in final home game

· Nov 19, 2023 Tweet

Soren Goldsmith/The Badger Herald

The monumental matchup between the University of Wisconsin and University of Nebraska football teams showcased intense moments and a close contest. UW — ultimately emerging victorious with a 24–17 win in overtime — displayed resilience and determination.

The first quarter set the tone with Nebraska’s quarterback Chubba Purdy making a significant impact, scoring a 55-yard touchdown run and later connecting with wide receiver Jaylen Lloyd for a 58-yard touchdown pass. Purdy and the Cornhuskers’ offense put them up 14–0 in the early stages of the game.

Meanwhile, UW faced challenges with quarterback Tanner Mordecai encountering sacks and incomplete passes. Despite an early deficit, the Badgers found momentum with a 26-yard touchdown pass to running back Jackson Acker in the second quarter to cut the Cornhuskers’ lead in half.

As the game progressed, both teams faced setbacks and injuries. Nebraska’s Purdy, starting in place of injured quarterbacks, showcased versatility with passing and rushing yards. UW’s running back Braelon Allen played a crucial role, scoring two touchdowns despite previous struggles with a lower body injury.

Before halftime, the Badgers tallied three points on the board with a 35-yard field goal from kicker Nathanial Vakos. After a missed field goal attempt by Nebraska on the ensuing drive, UW concluded the first half down 14–10.

The third quarter featured a scoring drive by the Badgers, with Allen contributing a 2-yard touchdown run. UW’s offense began to find a rhythm, in large part due to the play of wide receiver Will Pauling. 

Pauling notched eight catches, good for 79 yards Saturday night. On the scoring drive in the third quarter, the University of Cincinnati transfer had two catches, a total of 26 yards and drew a defensive pass interference penalty in the end zone to extend the drive.

In the fourth quarter, both offenses stalled out and struggled to string together multiple positive plays. A turnover on downs for the UW offense highlighted the sluggish storyline in the final quarter.

Nebraska found their answer on the final drive of regulation. Down 17–14, Purdy continued to use his legs to frustrate the UW defense. A 22-yard run set the Cornhuskers up well in the Badgers’ territory.

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Questionable time management from Nebraska head coach Matt Rhule forced the Cornhuskers to settle for a field goal to tie the game up. Regulation concluded with a score of 17–17.

Heading into overtime, the tension escalated. Allen’s game-winning 3-yard run secured Wisconsin’s victory. Nebraska’s attempt to match fell short with an interception from UW safety Preston Zachman, sealing the win for the Badgers. This triumph marked UW’s retention of the Freedom Trophy and extended Nebraska’s losing streak against the Badgers to 10 games.

Despite challenges, UW showcased its resilience, with Mordecai’s effective passing and Allen’s impactful contributions. The victory also secured the Badgers’bowl eligibility for the 22nd consecutive season.

The game highlighted individual performances, from Purdy’s dual-threat capabilities to Allen’s perseverance despite injury challenges. Notably, Wisconsin faced defensive setbacks with the injury of safety Hunter Wohler, yet the team overcame obstacles.

Looking ahead, UW concludes the regular season with the Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe against the University of Minnesota Nov. 25, aiming to carry the momentum from this hard-fought victory. The matchup — filled with twists and turns — added another chapter to the longstanding rivalry between these two football powerhouses.


This article was published Nov 19, 2023 at 9:36 pm and last updated Nov 19, 2023 at 9:36 pm


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