The No. 7 Nebraska Huskers visit the No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday night in Madison, and their game carries a lot of meaning. The Huskers are two games ahead of Wisconsin in the Big Ten West's standings, but there's a catch. Nebraska plays Ohio State next week, so a Wisconsin win would give the Badgers a head-to-head tiebreaker that might need to be put into use awfully quickly. Things are good for Nebraska right now, but a loss could lead to a quick spiral.
The Badgers, at home, figure to have a slight advantage. Nebraska's had a nice season but hasn't beaten anyone of great consequence, and a road test at Camp Randall will be the Huskers' stiffest one yet. It's a big moment for quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr., who could use a signature win. The same is undoubtedly true of Nebraska head coach Mike Riley, who's overseen an impressive turnaround after a sticky first year in Lincoln.
These teams have a good bit in common. Either Nebraska's about to walk out of Camp Randall with a probably unshakable grip on the West, or Wisconsin will be lurking and threatening to jump ahead. We'll see which it is.
How to watch, stream, and listen
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN. The broadcasters are Joe Tessitore, Todd Blackledge, and Holly Rowe.
Online streaming: WatchESPN
Spread: Wisconsin is favored by eight or nine points at most places.
Make friends: Get to SB Nation's team blog chats for this game at Corn Nation (for Nebraska fans) and Bucky's 5th Quarter (for Wisconsin fans).
Three big things to know
1. This is an old series that's just recently become a kind-of, sort-of rivalry. The two teams started playing for the Freedom Trophy in 2014, when they became division-mates, and have played some memorable games. (The most memorable might be Melvin Gordon's record-breaking shattering of the Huskers in 2014 at Camp Randall.) These teams are both used to contending for conference championships, although Nebraska's have generally come in another league. This game has significant ramifications for the one they now share.
2. Expect defense to rule the day. The Huskers have the potential to put on an explosive show on offense, but Wisconsin's defense has limited just about everyone this season. If Armstrong and his friends get loose and light up the scoreboard, it'll come as a surprise against a defense that's held Ohio State and Michigan pretty well in check.
3. Remember, there's a coaching circle of life at play. Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst got to Madison after the 2014 season, after then-Badgers head coach Gary Andersen left for Oregon State. Andersen was leaving to replace Riley, who'd just left the Beavers to take the Nebraska job after the Huskers fired Bo Pelini. Life's funny sometimes.