LINCOLN, Neb. - It took them almost a year, but No.22 Nebraska finally got some measure of revenge against Wisconsin.
In front of 85,962 fans at Memorial Stadium, the fifth-largest home crowd in school history, the Cornhuskers seized momentum in the second half and ran with it, scoring 20 straight points at one point to upend the Badgers’ upset bid with a 30-27 conference-opening slugfest.
Just like last year’s meeting when Wisconsin punched Nebraska in the mouth in the first half, the Badgers did it again to open up a 20-3 lead late in the first half. Montee Ball scored a pair of short-yardage touchdowns and Joel Stave carved up the Cornhuskers defense to the tune of 161 yards and a 29-yard touchdown.
From that point forward, Taylor Martinez took over. The junior quarterback, criticized earlier in week by junior defensive end David Gilbert for his weak throwing motion, threw two touchdowns and ran for another to help the Cornhuskers take their first lead of the game with 9:41 remaining in the game.
After registering 205 total yards in the first half, Wisconsin managed only 90 in the final two quarters, allowing the Huskers to get back into the game.
Wisconsin had a chance to get in position to tie the game with Danny O’Brien replacing an injured Joel Stave, but the Badgers failed, again, to convert a short-yardage situation on fourth-and-one.
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Audio: Inside the Locker Room
Badger Natino Video Analysis
Game recap: Badgers Drop the Ball in the Second Half
Wisconsin's run game is shucked
Notes: Gilbert fails to deliver on his prediction
No.22 Nebraska 30, Wisconsin 27
5 plays, 71 yards, 2:30 TOP, 11:02 left
Montee Ball 2-yard run (Jack Russell kick)
Key Play: On second down, Wisconsin dials up a double play-action pass for big results. Faking the dive and the end around, Joel Stave his Jared Abbrederis in one-on-one coverage down to the Nebraska 15-yard line.
7 plays, 23 yards, 3:29 TOP, 7:44 left
Montee Ball 1-yard run (Jack Russell kick)
Key Play: To win on the road, Wisconsin needed to force some turnovers. Thanks to tailback Rex Burkhead, the UW defense registered its first turnover in the easiest possible way. After a six-yard gain, Burkhead simply lost the ball in traffic, allowing Chris Borland to recover the fumble at the Nebraska 23.
After originally deciding to kick the field goal on fourth-and-one, a timeout for a review caused Bret Bielema to change.
4 plays, 4 yards, 1:39 TOP, 5:29 left
FG Brett Maher 26
Key Play: Nebraska tried to quickly answer Wisconsin's second sucker punch when Ameer Abdullah returned the kickoff 83 yards down to the Wisconsin 13. From that point on, Chris Borland hurdled one defender for a tackle for loss and stopped Rex Burkhead for no gain on third down.
10 plays, 65 yards, 4:24 TOP, 11:50 left
Jared Abbrederis 29-yard pass from Stave (kick failed)
Key Play: Wisconsin went nowhere after three plays, losing eight yards on its fourth drive, but Stanley Jean-Baptiste bailed out the Badgers by roughing punter Drew Meyer. That gave UW 15 yards and a fresh set of downs at the 44-yard line.
12 plays, 93 yards, 5:13 TOP, 3:11 left
Rex Burkhead 3-yard pass from Taylor Martinez (Maher kick)
Key Play: Struggling all game to throw the football, Martinez finally found his rhythm - completing 6-for-6 for 53 yards on the drive - but it was scramble for 20 yards down to the Wisconsin 17 that set up the score.
4 plays, 13 yards, 1:17 TOP, 10:29 left
Montee Ball 2-yard run (Kyle French kick)
Key Play: David Gilbert backed up his trash talk, out muscling former UW target Brent Qvale to strip Martinez in the pocket on third down. Borland recovered the fumble on Nebraska's 13-yard line, setting up the perfect field position.
4 plays, 77 yards, 1:27 TOP, 8:56 left
Taylor Martinez 38-yard run (Maher kick)
Key Play: A little seem and a missed tackle by Michael Trotter on a designed quarterback keeper was all Martinez needed to get the Huskers back in the game. Martinez isn't throwing well (95 yards), but he has rushed for 70.
10 plays, 75 yards, 3:41 TOP, 3:46 left
Kyler Reed 10-yard pass from Martinez (Maher kick)
Key Play: Martinez finally delivered a throw with some accuracy and some zip, finding a wide-open Jamal Turner over the middle for a 27-yard gain to the Wisconsin 31.
7 plays, 47 yards, 1:45 TOP, :55 left
FG Maher 38
Key Play: After dominating the first half, Wisconsin's defense has started to get gashed. After Ameer Abdullah rushed for 17 yards to get into Wisconsin territory, Ben Cotton was wide open in the flat for a 26-yard gain down to the 20-yard line.
12 plays, 60 yards, 4:22 TOP, 9:41 left
FG Maher 41
Key Play: After relying on his passing motion throughout the nonconference season, Martinez continues to find more and more gaps in Wisconsin's defense. On a perfect play fake, Martinez slices through the UW defense for 18 yards, moving the chains to the Wisconsin 18.
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