8:00 PM ET, October 1, 2011
Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI
MADISON, Wis. -- Russell Wilson gave Nebraska a harsh welcome to the Big Ten, throwing for two touchdowns and running for another in No. 7 Wisconsin's 48-17 rout of the eighth-ranked Cornhuskers on Saturday night.
Montee Ball ran for 151 yards and four touchdowns for the Badgers (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten). But Wilson was the main attraction for a primetime television audience as Wisconsin overcame a slow start to solidify its status as the class of the conference.
"If there's a better player in college football right now, I'd like to see it," Badgers coach Bret Bielema said of Wilson.
Taylor Martinez threw three interceptions for the Huskers (4-1, 0-1), who showed they weren't quite ready for the best of the Big Ten.
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By the time the Camp Randall Stadium public address system blared "Jump Around" to get fans hopping before the fourth quarter, the game already was in the bag for the Badgers.
"I knew there was a lot of hype going into this game," Bielema said. "That's why I kind of challenged our players to embrace it all week. I knew if we went out and played well and did what we do, we'd get a lot more attention."
It was the sixth meeting between the teams and the first since 1974, but clearly the biggest and one of the most anticipated games in recent memory for Wisconsin. The Badgers fans didn't exactly have Camp Randall to themselves.
The crowd of 81,384 was filled with plenty of Nebraska fans -- they wore black to differentiate themselves from Wisconsin fans who wear a similar shade of red -- amid reports earlier in the week that thousands of fans were expected to make the trip to Madison this weekend for the Huskers' first conference game as a member of the Big Ten.
"We didn't make plays," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. "I'm embarrassed. I apologize to the fans of Nebraska."
The Badgers sent them home disappointed, but the two teams could be on track to meet again.
Wisconsin is in the Leaders division of the Big Ten and Nebraska is in the Legends division, meaning the two teams could play in the conference championship game.
It was another big step for Wilson, the former North Carolina State quarterback who gave up minor league baseball to return to college football and play for a Badgers team that seemed to have all the pieces of a BCS bowl contender but needed a quarterback.
Five games into the season, there's no reason to think otherwise.
Wilson had played well in his first four games for the Badgers after joining them over the summer, but hadn't yet been tested by a top-level opponent since his days with the Wolfpack.
And Wilson found himself under pressure early, especially by standout Nebraska defensive tackle Jared Crick. But then Wilson started showing his ability to scramble out of trouble and extend plays -- and Nebraska's defense couldn't keep up.
"Russell throws the ball on the move about as well as he does in the pocket," Bielema said.
Wisconsin's defense also appeared to be in for a long night, allowing a pair of early -- and easy -- touchdown drives to Martinez and the Huskers that put the Badgers behind 14-7 early in the second quarter.
Wilson answered with a drive, and Ball scored his second touchdown of the day. The extra point try was blocked by Crick, and Nebraska still led 14-13.
Later in the quarter, Wisconsin's defense picked off Martinez on two straight possessions, the first by linebacker Mike Taylor and the second by safety Aaron Henry.
Wilson made the Huskers pay for both turnovers, firing a 36-yard touchdown to Jared Abbrederis, then a 46-yard touchdown to Nick Toon with 0:32 left. Nebraska missed a 50-yard field goal try near the end of the second quarter, and Wisconsin took a 27-14 lead into halftime.
Martinez then threw another interception on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, this time to cornerback Antonio Fenelus.
Wilson helped the Badgers cash in again, this time with his legs. On first-and-goal at the 10, Wilson faked a handoff and took off running, leaving the Huskers' defense in his dust on a touchdown run. Wisconsin took a 34-14 lead, effectively ending the game early in the third quarter.
Rex Burkhead had 18 carries for 96 yards for the Huskers.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... "Jump Around" played. Wisconsin scored five unanswered TDs heading into the fourth quarter.
Gameball goes to... Montee Ball, who scored in each quarter, finishing with 151 rushing yards on 30 carries.
Stat of the game... 2002. Nebraska's last loss to a Big Ten team came in 2002, at the hands of Penn State.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||5-12||8-12|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||1-1|
|TD||06:02||Taylor Martinez 1 Yd Run (Brett Maher Kick)||7||0|
|TD||01:27||Montee Ball 1 Yd Run (Philip Welch Kick)||7||7|
|TD||12:45||Rex Burkhead 1 Yd Run (Brett Maher Kick)||14||7|
|TD||09:48||Montee Ball 3 Yd Run (Pat Blocked)||14||13|
|TD||02:03||Jared Abbrederis 36 Yd Pass From Russell Wilson (Philip Welch Kick)||14||20|
|TD||00:32||Nick Toon 46 Yd Pass From Russell Wilson (Philip Welch Kick)||14||27|
|TD||11:21||Russell Wilson 10 Yd Run (Philip Welch Kick)||14||34|
|TD||02:36||Montee Ball 4 Yd Run (Philip Welch Kick)||14||41|
|FG||13:35||Brett Maher 32 Yd||17||41|
|TD||05:11||Montee Ball 15 Yd Run (Philip Welch Kick)||17||48|
Montee Ball rushed for 151 yards while tying a career-high with four touchdowns on the ground. Twelve of Ball's 30 carries went for 5+ yards.
Taylor Martinez never got the outside rushing attack going on Saturday night, managing only 28 yards outside the tackles. Coming into Saturday's game, Martinez had averaged 83.3 yards per game rushing on the outside.[+]
Taylor Martinez Outside the Tackles
Taylor Martinez completed just 27.2 percent of his throws of 15-plus yards against Wisconsin. Martinez has made 11 career starts against schools from the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 and his numbers on downfield throws are much better in his six wins.[+]
Taylor Martinez Throws of 15+ Yards
Russell Wilson continued to made the most of his opportunities throwing downfield, completing over 65 percent of his passes that traveled 15+ yards - including touchdowns of 36 and 46 yards in the second quarter.[+]
Russell Wilson on Throws of 15+ Yards
So far this season, Wisconsin has outscored its opponents by a combined 191 points and has yet to win by fewer than 30 points. The plus-191 point differential is better than any of the 5 last BCS National Champions through their first 5 games.[+]
A Contender in Madison - Last 5 BCS Nat Champs - Point Diff Through 1st 5 Games
Nebraska has really struggled against Top 10 teams as of late. The Cornhuskers have lost 16 of their last 18 games against Top 10 teams since the start of the 2000 season. They also haven't won a road game against a Top 10 team since beating Washington 27-14 on September 20, 1997. 11 of the losses have been by double digits, including 6 by at least 20 points.[+]
Nebraska vs Top 10 Teams - Since 2000
ESPN Stats & Information