Wisconsin needs to beat Nebraska on Saturday. Not only is the ‘historic’ Freedom Trophy on the line, but the Badgers are still a win away from bowl eligibility and are currently coming off losses to Indiana and Northwestern.
The team is still alive in the Big Ten West, somehow. A win on Saturday is obviously a necessary first step for that scenario to play out.
But there is one stat to highlight that means bad news for the Badgers when Nebraska visits Madison on Saturday: the Cornhuskers own one of the best rush defenses in the nation.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin has struggled to run the football all season, with or without Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi in the lineup. Now Mellusi has been out for the year, and Allen hasn’t been full-go since suffering an injury in the Ohio State game. Wisconsin may have some real trouble running the football on Saturday.
The good news is at least it hasn’t been a consistent piece of the offense. Nothing about the offense has been consistent.
Wisconsin’s advantage on Saturday will come when Nebraska holds the ball. The Cornhuskers have the nation’s No. 114 offense, only a few spots ahead of Rutgers and Iowa. It may become the case that the Badgers’ best offense is actually their defense.
But as a traditionalist, it does pain me to say this: Wisconsin probably shouldn’t rely heavily on its run game on Saturday. Luke Fickell and Phil Longo may need to find creative ways to move the football against a good Nebraska defense.