Breakdown: No.8 Nebraska at No.7 Wisconsin

Russell Wilson (Getty Images)

The fan bases of the Badgers and the Cornhuskers have been talking about this matchup for 13 months. New Big Ten vs. Old Big Ten. Nebraska wants to make a positive impression on its new conference and Wisconsin wants to represent the old guard. On Saturday night, the nation we'll find out who makes the right impression.

No.8 Nebraska (4-0, 0-0 Big Ten, 0-0 Legends) vs. No.7 Wisconsin (4-0, 0-0 Big Ten, 0-0 Leaders)

Date/Time - Saturday, October 1 at 7:12 p.m. CT

Stadium –Camp Randall Stadium (80,123/FieldTurf)

Television - ABC (Brent Musberger, Kirk Herbstreit and Erin Andrews)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas), Sirius Ch.91, XM Ch.91

Series – Nebraska leads 3-2-0

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 21-20, on Sept. 21, 1974 in Madison

Series Notes:

Wisconsin and Nebraska rank 1-2 in the Big Ten in scoring offense with both teams entering Saturday's game averaging more than 42.0 points.

Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini served as a graduate assistant at Iowa in 1991, while Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema was a junior defensive lineman.

Current UW Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez played at Nebraska from 1965-67 for legendary head coach Bob Devaney. Alvarez was the leading tackler for the 1967 Cornhuskers, who led the nation in total defense and created a school-record 40 turnovers. Alvarez played in both the Sugar and Orange bowls at Nebraska (the Cornhuskers were 25-7 during his three varsity seasons).

Alvarez is a 1969 graduate of the University of Nebraska, where he played linebacker and went on to earn his master's degree. He received a Distinguished Alumnus Award from his alma mater in 2003. In the 1966 matchup between Wisconsin and Nebraska in Madison, Alvarez had two tackles and returned an interception 25 yards.

Nebraska is 841-345-40 all-time, one of just eight schools with 800 all-time victories w Nebraska has won five national championships (1970, 1971, 1994, 1995, 1997).

Nebraska comes to the Big Ten having won 43 conference championships. Since 1970, Nebraska has 407 wins, 25 more than any other school.

The first meeting was an 18-0 Wisconsin win in a 1901 matchup in Milwaukee.

Nebraska holds a 31-6 record against Big Ten opponents since 1970. The Huskers have won seven straight games in Lincoln against conference foes dating back to a 1981 loss to Penn State, an independent at that time.

Among Big Ten Conference opponents, Nebraska has faced Minnesota the most, taking on the Gophers 51 times. Minnesota holds a 29-20-2 edge in the all-time series, but Nebraska has won the past 14 meetings dating back to 1963.

Wisconsin Notes:

Despite losing its leading sack producer from last year (J.J. Watt), Wisconsin is tied for second in the Big Ten with 10 QB sacks. Six different players have combined on the 10 sacks. Junior DE David Gilbert is tied for third in the Big Ten with 3.0 sacks.

Wisconsin has allowed just one rushing touchdown this season (Florida is the only team in the country that hasn't allowed one) and has only given up 18 rushing TDs since the start of the 2009 season. That is the third-lowest total in the country. Only Alabama (12) and West Virginia (15) have lower totals in this span.

A year after leading the country and setting a school record with just nine turnovers, UW is tied for fifth nationally with just two giveaways this season.

Wilson holds the NCAA record for most consecutive passes without an interception (379), set at the end of his freshman season through the beginning of his sophomore year. His interception on his final pass attempt against Northern Illinois broke a personal streak of 150 attempts without an INT.

Nebraska Notes:

Bo Pelini is the fourth Nebraska head coach to win nine games in each of his first three seasons with the Cornhuskers. The others to reach that win plateau were Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne and Frank Solich. Pelini has joined Solich as the only NU coaches with two 10-win seasons in their first three years.

The Huskers have won 34 of their 36 conference-opening games since 1975. The only blemishes on that record were a 2002 loss at Iowa State and a 2008 loss to Missouri in Lincoln. The Huskers are 94-19-2 all-time in conference openers, including a 9-5 against ranked teams in conference openers.

Jared Crick has 20.0 career sacks and 35 career tackles-for-loss. His 20.0 sacks rank third nationally among active players and are tops among interior defensive linemen. Crick's 35 TFLs also lead all interior defensive linemen nationally.

Lavonte David set a school record with 152 tackles in his first year as a Husker in 2010, and has opened 2011 with 32 tackles in three games. David's career average of 10.6 tackles per game ranks fourth nationally.

Sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez rushed for 965 yards last season, the second-highest total by a Husker freshman, regardless of position. Martinez's 2010 rushing total ranked second nationally among returning quarterbacks, trailing only Michigan's Denard Robinson.

Martinez and junior I-back Rex Burkhead combined to rush for 1,916 yards last season. That total ranked Martinez and Burkhead as the third-highest returning quarterback-running back rushing tandem in the country. After combining for 137 yards per game last season, the duo has combined for at least 200 rushing yards in each of the first four games, and is averaging 210.3 rushing yards per game through four contests.

Prediction

It's almost time to stop talking about this game and start watching this historic contest.

The biggest criticism Wisconsin has faced over the last four weeks is that the Badgers haven't faced top notch nonconference competition. No arguing that, but there also no arguing that Wisconsin hasn't blasted the competition with extraordinarily balance with the running game, the receiver and the tight ends with all the pieces of the offensive puzzle. To emphasis that point, Wilson has directed 38 drives as UW's quarterback, leading the Badgers to 180 points (25 touchdowns and two field goals). That is 4.7 points per drive and a touchdown percentage of .658.

Nebraska isn't as balance as Wisconsin, but are just as effective on the ground. The Huskers have topped 200 yards on the ground in each of the first four games, including 309 rushing yards against Washington and 333 rushing yards at Wyoming. Nebraska is now 14-0 the past two seasons when rushing for 200 yards or more. The reason for those numbers is running back Rex Burkhead and quarterback Taylor Martinez providing one of top running tandems. Through four games, Martinez has for an average of 6.68 yards per carry and Burkhead has 6.67 yards per carry.

Consider those two offenses a wash, so why is Wisconsin a 9.5-point favorite? The answer is simple: defense. Wisconsin's defense has shutdown the competition, allowing just 34 combined points and not one opponent over 300 yards.

Nebraska's opponents have a better record (10-6) compared to Wisconsin (5-10) but that record is deceiving considering the team's the Cornhuskers' opponents have beaten (Eastern Washington, Idaho, North Dakota, Jacksonville State, Weber State). More eye opening is the amount of yards Nebraska has allowed to subpar opponents. The Cornhuskers are struggling against average competition and Wisconsin is thriving … hmmm. Nebraska's opponents have a better record (10-6) compared to Wisconsin (5-10) but that record is deceiving considering the team's the Cornhuskers' opponents have beaten (Eastern Washington, Idaho, North Dakota, Jacksonville State, Weber State). More eye opening is the amount of yards Nebraska has allowed to subpar opponents. The Cornhuskers are struggling against average competition and Wisconsin is thriving … hmmm.

The Cornhuskers have been able to overcome things like fumbles, sloppy tackling, missed assignments and dropped passes so far but are facing a team that doesn't beat itself. Not only has Wisconsin not lost a fumble in four games, the Badgers haven't even put the ball on the ground. Oh yeah, and Russell Wilson has shown no discernible chink in the armor.

I can't wait to see what Russell Wilson can do against this squad. If he keeps on the track he's on, this one could get ugly.

I hope Nebraska fans have an enjoyable time in Madison. It would be awful if they came all this way to see the Huskers lose and not have a couple cheese curds.

Wisconsin 34, Nebraska 20

Worgull's Predictions

Straight up: 4-0

Against the Spread: 3-1

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