Huskers, Badgers desperate to avoid 0-2
Who: Wisconsin vs. Nebraska
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Memorial Stadium, Nebraska
Spread: Nebraska -1.5
Matchup to watch: Joe Schobert vs. Tommy Armstrong
I don’t like to assume things, but I’m assuming C.J. Beathard wouldn’t mind if he never saw Schobert again. Now, Armstrong gets to be the Wisconsin linebacker’s next target. Lucky him. Schobert has an ability to hunt down mobile quarterbacks and prevent them from doing what they do best. That’s not good news for a guy that needs to be able to get outside the pocket to make certain throws. Armstrong is coming off the least accurate performance of his career, which wasn’t necessarily all on him. His receivers have to do a better job of getting off separation. Against the pursuit of Schobert, Armstrong won’t have time to go through his progressions. It could be another frustrating day for the Nebraska offense.
Thing I’m excited to see: Unleashed De’Mornay Pierson-El
Last week, the electric sophomore was eased back into things after he was sidelined for the first month with a foot injury. This week, we should see a lot more of Pierson-El. Receivers coach Keith Williams said Pierson-El has looked his best during practice this week, which would be a major boost for a Nebraska offense that took a significant step back last week. We should see Pierson-El worked into the running game and passing game. A jet sweep or two could be in the cards, as well. Right now, Nebraska will take any kind of production it can get from the preseason All-American.
Number to remember: 0-2
It’s a bit surprising to think that the loser of this game will be 0-2 in B1G play. Either team could be virtually eliminated from a B1G West crown with a loss. You hate to say that a game in the second week of October is a must-win, but this one certainly qualifies. A couple of first-year coaches are looking for their teams to play with a greater sense of urgency than they did last week. It’s worth noting that while both of these teams are trying to avoid 0-2, a win will be a major lift to either of them. Wisconsin laid an egg against Northwestern in the B1G opener and then won seven straight games to win the West last year. Unfortunately, neither of these teams have a Melvin Gordon suiting up anytime soon.
Prediction: Wisconsin 24, Nebraska 21
It’s hard to adjust in-game when you lose your top receiver. Wisconsin didn’t do that when Alex Erickson went down last week. Whether or not he’s available Saturday, you can bet Paul Chryst is game-planning to be without him. I think the Badgers make the better adjustments against a Nebraska pass defense that ranks dead last in FBS. Joel Stave shakes off his worst game of the season and leads the Badgers to an all-important 1-1. Nebraska hasn’t shown an ability to execute in close games yet, and against a battle-tested Wisconsin team, I don’t see that changing on Saturday. A word of advice; don’t turn on your radio in Lincoln if Nebraska falls to 2-4.