Nebraska/Wisconsin rivalry makes sense
By now, certainly you’ve heard about Wisconsin running back Corey Clement’s iPhone/flip phone comparison. Perhaps the oddest quote of Big Ten Media Days came when the Badger back was asked how influential the 2012 Big Ten Championship — the one where Wisconsin cruised to a ho-hum 70-31 victory — was with his recruitment. Clement failed to mention the impact that Huskers’ 30-27 win against the Badgers in Lincoln had on his recruitment. But that’s not relevant.
What Clement did hint at was a potential rivalry brewing with the Badgers’ West Division foe. Just because they’ve played for the Freedom Trophy doesn’t mean they’ve had an actual rivalry. What kind of rivals go 37 years without facing each other?
Ironically, Clement’s comments suggested that it’s not much of a fair fight on the field. Who’s to argue with that? Wisconsin has a 204-102 advantage in the four games since Nebraska was unkindly welcomed to the Big Ten…by a 48-17 Badger rout.
Since that day, Nebraska hasn’t had a real Big Ten rival. Iowa and Nebraska were manufactured rivals. The Heroes Trophy game hasn’t had anything significant at stake because both teams hovered slightly above mediocrity in the last few years. Husker fans still have more hatred for Texas or Oklahoma than any Big Ten foe. Don’t believe me? Wear burnt orange in Nebraska.
It’s about time Nebraska declared war on somebody it actually sees regularly. It makes sense. Wisconsin has everything the Huskers have wanted since joining the conference — three Big Ten Championship appearances, a couple Rose Bowl berths and a Heisman candidate. It’s no wonder Clement perceives Nebraska as a flip phone.
While recent history on the field is on his side, Nebraska did land something — or someone — Wisconsin coveted. Four-star tailback verbally Jordan Stevenson committed to Mike Riley after he was denied admission into Wisconsin a week earlier. Stevenson, a former Texas recruit, will add another wrinkle to their showdowns if he takes over the feature back role.
In the immediate future, Wisconsin and Nebraska were selected by the media to finish No. 1 and No. 2 in the West. Their Oct. 10 showdown in Lincoln could have a significant impact on that. Wisconsin has actually never won in Lincoln. The true home team has won all but one meeting in the series, which only has nine games in a 114-year stretch.
Maybe this is the year that changes. Or maybe it’ll mark Mike Riley’s first signature win. Either way, let’s just hope it’s closer than last year’s massacre in Madison.