Rapid Reaction: Wisconsin rallies late, upends Nebraska in Memorial Stadium
Graham Mertz scored on a 2-yard TD run with under a minute left and Wisconsin rallied from a 14-3 4th quarter deficit to upend Nebraska and reach bowl eligibility with a 15-14 win.
Casey Thompson returned to the Nebraska lineup after being injured 3 weeks ago against Illinois.
Thompson connected with Trey Palmer on a pair of TD passes. An 11-yard connection accounted for the game’s only points in the opening half. In frigid and windy conditions, the Badgers kept it on the ground. But Mertz rallied the Badgers through the air on their final 2 possessions.
Mertz’s biggest throw of the day came as he hooked up with Isaac Guerendo for 27 yards setting up the Badgers at the Nebraska 6-yard line late.
Thompson showed grit and toughness. Twice in the opening half, he took off scrambling. Instead of sliding safely, Thompson lowered a shoulder, cracking pads with Wisconsin defenders to try and get an extra yard or 2.
The north wind was such a factor the Badgers’ Nate Van Zelst came up short on a 39-yard field goal late in the 1st half.
With the game being billed as the battle of interim head coaches, it was Jim Leonhard picking up the win and extending Wisconsin’s win streak over the Huskers to 9.
Braelon Allen was effective in running the ball. But the talented sophomore left the game several times after being shaken up with a shoulder injury and later an ankle injury. Chez Mellusi filled in getting the majority of the Badgers’ carries.
The Badgers also squandered a prime scoring opportunity late in the 3rd quarter. Facing 3rd-and-goal from just outside the 1, a false start penalty pushed the ball back. Then, Chimere Dike couldn’t quite haul in Mertz’s pass, and Wisconsin had to settle for 3.
Mertz connected with Skyler Bell for a 10-yard TD early in the 4th to cut it to 14-9. The Wisconsin defense got the key 4th quarter stops when needed.
Badgers defensive star Nick Herbig was ejected in the 3rd quarter for targeting on a hit on Thompson. Herbig will miss the 1st half of next week’s game against Minnesota.
Up Next: Wisconsin
The Badgers will host the Gophers next Saturday hoping to get to 7 wins.
Up Next: Nebraska
The Huskers travel to Iowa City to face the Hawkeyes on Black Friday. Speculation has run rampant the past week about an expected announcement on the new Huskers coach.
AD Trev Alberts may announce the hiring prior to the season finale in order to have time to visit with players and the current staff about the direction of the program. It will be an interesting week in Lincoln and all eyes will be on Alberts and the route he goes.