Wisconsin has fallen victim to some slow starts in 2017. Early deficits stoked upset bids from Utah State and Northwestern only to see the Badgers pull away late to protect their perfect start. The nation’s No. 9 team may not be able to come back from a similarly sputtering start on Saturday — they’ll face Nebraska on the road in a key Big Ten showdown. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network (live stream).
The Cornhuskers have been disappointing this fall, but a 2-0 start to their conference schedule has them in first place in the Big Ten West. A win Saturday would set them on course for a spot in the conference’s title game in December, but it won’t be easy. Wisconsin has limited opponents to just 13.5 points per game in 2017 and boasts a traditionally potent running game led by freshman tailback Jonathan Taylor.
Time, TV channel, and streaming info
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- Location: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.
- TV: Big Ten Network
- Streaming: BTN2Go
- Odds: Wisconsin is favored by 12 points
Wisconsin at Nebraska news:
- If Mike Riley is fired this season at Nebraska, Scott Frost leads a list of potential Husker head coach replacements.
Nebraska fired athletic director Shawn Eichorst. The school didn’t bother making up reasons related to the university’s vision or the athletic department’s long-term goals — it basically just said “We’re tired of not being awesome at football.”
Eichorst’s lone hire in a major sport came when he fired Bo Pelini and replaced him with Mike Riley. He seemed to make a mistake of scope by honing in on the guy who was most unlike the last guy, not the one who might have the highest ceiling:
- But, uh, maybe hit the brakes on all the Frost talk — it is October, after all.
Let’s get the first problem out of the way: Nebraska has a head coach, and is sitting at 3-2 on the season. No, that’s not where we thought we’d be right now. Mistakes were made, and people have been angry. Fine. We want to aspire to greater things than losing to MAC programs. Fine.
- Two major contributors to the Wisconsin offense could miss Saturday’s game.
Redshirt senior tight end Troy Fumagalli, who missed Saturday’s win against Northwestern, is listed as questionable with a left leg injury.
“Troy, I think we’ll see,” head coach Paul Chryst said during Monday’s weekly press conference. “He feels better certainly today than he did a week ago at this time, so it will be as the week progresses.”
- Wisconsin’s safeties have been a major piece of one of the Big Ten’s toughest defense.
Leonhard’s squad is currently fourth in the FBS in total yards allowed and tied for eighth in scoring defense. When examining the overall success of the unit, one shouldn’t look much further than the starting safeties to understand how they are so successful. Junior D’Cota Dixon and senior Natrell Jamerson are filling up the box score each week in the Badgers pro-style defense.
Which Alex Hornibrook will show up?
Hornibrook slid into the Badgers’ bye week with confidence; he’d just put up the most efficient passing game in program history by dissecting BYU with a 18-for-19 performance. In his first game back from the break, he threw a pair of interceptions and helped dig his team into an early hole against Northwestern. Nebraska has shown off some firepower in 2017, and Wisconsin may need its budding young quarterback to lead some momentum-killing drives to secure a road win in Lincoln.
Wisconsin at Nebraska prediction:
The Badgers have their standard smothering defense, and the emergence of Jonathan Taylor at tailback has made this a traditional top-15 Wisconsin team. The Cornhuskers, on the other hand, have lost to Northern Illinois and their two conference wins are over Rutgers and regular Illinois. Conventional wisdom says the Badgers win this one.