Last season, the Nebraska Cornhuskers were welcomed to the Big Ten with a remorseless 48-17 pummeling courtesy of the Wisconsin Badgers. The following week, the Huskers found themselves down 20-6 to the Ohio State Buckeyes at the half.
Following a strip of then-freshman Braxton Miller by Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David, the Huskers completed the largest comeback in school history defeating Ohio State 34-27.
The Badgers can now officially relate.
Up 27-10 with 10:29 left in the third quarter Saturday night, it appeared that Montee Ball and Wisconsin could do no wrong. Wide receiver Jared Abbrederis was scorching Nebraska defensive backs as he did last season and much like against Ohio State in 2011, all hope seemed lost for the Big Red.
Rex Burkhead didn’t resemble the back Husker fans know and love at all as he wore a knee brace for the second straight week while he recovers from an MCL sprain. Burkhead stepped aside and sophomore Ameer Abdullah – rapidly gaining popularity himself – began gashing the Wisconsin defense for large chunks of yardage.
The Huskers’ offense then rolled out of the mud and ripped off 20 unanswered points including a go-ahead 41-yard field goal by Brett Maher to take a 30-27 lead. Six of those points came when Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez caused the Wisconsin defense to give up their first run of 20-plus yards this season with a 38-yard scamper in the third quarter.
Wisconsin redshirt freshman quarterback Joel Stave looked like a poised veteran in the first half, but regressed in the second as a Nebraska defense revitalized by the crowd left him beaten and battered.
Stave, who had taken over for Maryland transfer Danny O’Brien as the Badgers’ starter, eventually gave way to O’Brien with 2:55 left in the game.
Wisconsin eventually found themselves near mid-field when on a fourth and one conversion attempt, Nebraska linebacker Alonzo Whaley helped disrupt the snap and Montee Ball never secured O’Brien’s handoff. Safety Harvey Jackson recovered a resulting fumble and Nebraska would finish the game taking knees.
Earlier in the week, Wisconsin defensive end David Gilbert commented that Taylor Martinez’s passing was similar to “skipping rocks” in his eyes. Bret Bielema benched Gilbert for his remarks.
While no one will mistake Martinez for Geno Smith, he did complete over 58 percent of his passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns, throwing no interceptions.
If that’s considered “skipping rocks,” no doubt Husker fans hope he finds a nearby pond every week.
The win ties Nebraska with Iowa and Northwestern in the Legends division at 1-0 in conference while Wisconsin sits in the cellar of the Leaders for the time being at 0-1.
Nebraska’s slate gets no easier as the Huskers will attempt to be the first team to knock off Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes in Big Ten play next week. The Badgers welcome Illinois which suffered a 35-7 throttling at the hands of Penn State.
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