After a rocky start to the 2021 college football season, the Wisconsin Badgers have been on a roll. Winners of six straight games, Wisconsin (7-3, 5-2 Big Ten) has moved to the top of the Big Ten West and is looking to move one step closer to a possible division title this weekend when the Badgers host Nebraska.
Nebraska's bowl hopes have already been dashed with a disappointing 3-7 season (1-6 in conference) coming into the week, but the Cornhuskers have lost some close calls all season long. It would not be too shocking to see Nebraska keep things close with Wisconsin this weekend given this season's trend, but the Badgers are looking poised to take full control of the division race going into the final weekend of the regular season.
Nebraska at No. 15 Wisconsin
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 20 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Wisconsin -9.5
When Nebraska Has the Ball
Adrian Martinez has been the one-man wrecking crew for Nebraska this season. In addition to passing for 2,512 yards and 13 touchdowns, Martinez also is Nebraska's leading rusher with 502 yards and 12 touchdowns. It won't take Wisconsin long to figure out that the ball will be in the hands of Martinez for the majority of the game whenever the Cornhuskers' offense is on the field. As has been the story of his career, however, Martinez serves up a good streak and can cough the ball up as well. Martinez has five career total touchdowns in two previous games against Wisconsin, but the Badgers have come out on top by a wide margin each time.
Wisconsin's defense leads the Big Ten with just 211.4 yards allowed per game. Nebraska's offense is second in the Big Ten with 458.0 yards per game. So something will clearly have to give in this showdown, and odds are the Badgers will get the upper hand in that battle. The Huskers' recent offensive coaching shakeup — the program is parting ways with four of its five full-time offensive assistants — could be a factor as well.
When Wisconsin Has the Ball
Wisconsin's running game remains its bread and butter this season, and the quick rise of Braelon Allen has been a part of the success during this run. Allen has rushed for at least 100 yards in six straight games, which is the same number the Badgers have won in a row. He's coming off of a 173-yard, three-touchdown performance against Northwestern last week. The freshman is in line for a 1,000-yard season, and he leads the Badgers with nine rushing touchdowns. Chez Mellusi is now out for the year with a leg injury, but Mertz will have no trouble with simply taking the snap, turning around, and handing the ball off to Allen.
If Nebraska is going to find a way to a victory, it will have to be by forcing Wisconsin to throw the football. The Badgers are ranked 12th in the Big Ten in passing offense with Graham Mertz throwing more interceptions (nine) than touchdowns (eight).
Wisconsin is looking like a team on a mission toward a division crown, and Nebraska lacks the ability to finish off key drives and hasn't gotten a lucky break when it's needed one. At home, the Badgers feel incredibly confident about taking care of business this week to move one big step closer to the Big Ten West crown. The Cornhuskers will once again hang their heads wondering how things could have gone differently.
Prediction: Wisconsin 27, Nebraska 16
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