Welp. It’s time for the Huskers’ annual showdown with the Badgers and the return of Cousin Ben, the biggest Wisconsin fan this Husker blog knows.
Ben was gracious enough to take time out of his busy senior year of high school to write up a little preview of what Husker Nation can expect when the Badgers take the field Saturday night. What follows is his preview along with my commentary in italics.
Take it away Cousin Ben…
Hello everyone- welcome to your least favorite article of the season. This year does feel a bit different, however. Night game. Lincoln Stadium. [I know you’re just trolling with this “Lincoln Stadium” business. Well played.]
I expect the atmosphere to be absolutely electric- which will make it much closer than it should be. Before my predictions, here is a breakdown of the best team in the Big Ten West. [You’re breaking down Nebraska? Nice!]
Wisconsin’s offense comes into the game following a fantastic second half against Northwestern. [You left out the part where the Badgers relied on Northwestern playing like idiots.] This is pretty much your prototypical Badger offense once again. Great line, three good backs, shaky QB play. The line is young, but expect them to get plenty of good pushes. Wisconsin needs to run the ball a lot to win this game, and that all starts with the massive boys up front.
Carrying the ball will be the best freshman RB in the country, Jonathan Taylor, along with Pitt transfer Chris James, and Bradrick Shaw (yes, that random dude who ran for a 21 yard TD last year is our 3rd running back). Taylor has been tremendous, showing a mix of speed, strength and balance that not many freshman show. James has been decent, but a lot of fans had high expectations before the season, so he has underwhelmed a bit. Shaw is a big, powerful dude with underrated speed and elusiveness who could easily be an every down back on a lot of teams.
Now, onto our quarterback Mr. Alex Hornibrook. His inconsistencies have shown way too often this year, even after spending the offseason working with great coaches (including Peyton Manning). [At the Manning Passing Academy? Even T-Magic and Tommy Armstrong got invites to that. Whatever.]
Overall, he’s a really sound quarterback, who makes good decisions but his lack of athleticism and a weak arm make it tough for him to control the game in ways that elite teams quarterbacks often do. [OK. This is good.]
The receiving core is much improved, with all of it centered around the nine fingered wonder Troy Fumagalli (who is questionable for Saturday as of now). [Whoa. He really does only have nine fingers.] The thing Wisconsin has really improved on in recruiting is getting some young guys who can go deep and come up with the ball. Sophomores AJ Taylor and Quintez Cephus, as well as freshman Danny Davis (beast) have been pleasant surprises early in the season, and the seasoned vet Jazz Peavy, [Please tell me his nickname is Autobot.] while under targeted, could go off at anytime and have a big game. This offense as a whole is young, but extremely talented.
Death, Taxes, and Wisconsin having a top 15 defense. [Thanks for being modest by saying top 15 instead of top 5.] This group is similar to recent defenses, but the defensive back play has really stood out. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering Wisconsin’s new DC is former NFL safety Jim Leonhard.
Natrell Jamerson and D’cota Dixon have been fantastic at the safety spots, and corners Nick Nelson and Derrick Tindal have been manning the corner spots well. The linebacking core is absolutely unbelievable once again this year. TJ Edwards and Chris Orr are an elite package of MLB, and Garrett Dooley, Leon Jacobs, and Andrew VanGinkel off the edge give teams offensive lines some serious problems.
The defensive line, while mostly unknown, has been solid this year. The rotation is deep, and every guy does his job as he should. This is a defense who could force 3+ turnovers this weekend if Nebraska isn’t careful with the ball. Based on what I’ve seen in the games I’ve watched (Oregon and N.Illinois) Wisconsin’s defense could have a very good night on Saturday. [Well, you clearly missed what the offense did against Rutgers and Regular Illinois.]
This is going to be a defensive game, which I believe is going to really help Wisconsin. Nebraska has been way too turnover prone (9 picks in 4 games by Tanner Lee) which will flip field position and give Wisconsin the advantage.
I see this one ending up 24-13 Wisconsin.
Jonathan Taylor runs for 115 yards and a touchdown, and Hornibrook throws for 200 yards and a TD. Tanner Lee throws 3 picks and Wisconsin forces 2 fumbles. I think Nebraska is a much improving team, but I think Wisconsin’s depth is too great. It’ll be very tight until the 4th quarter.
As you may remember, last year, I predicted Nebraska was going to lose 4 out of 5 to end the season… They ended up losing 3 out of 5. This year, I think Nebraska ends up going 3-4 to finish the season, with losses to Wisconsin, OSU, Penn State, and Minnesota. [Wait… so you’re saying the Huskers will finally beat Iowa?]
I think Wisconsin finishes the regular season undefeated, but loses to OSU in the Big Ten Championship. [Another heartbreaking year for the Badgers? This makes me so happy.]