Nov. 02, 2016
No Jack Cichy, no problem, for Wisconsin. Dare Ogunbowale ran for 120 yards and D’Cota Dixon broke up a fourth down pass in the end zone in overtime to seal the 23-17 win over No. 7 Nebraska. Like most Wisconsin games, this was not pretty. With the win, the Badgers stay alive in the Big Ten West division race. They also go to 6-2 and become bowl eligible for the 15th consecutive season. Despite all the injuries, Wisconsin somehow keeps winning. It is hard not to be impressed with the team.
Corey Clement struggled throughout the game. He had a 41-yard run late in the game, but for the most part, Clement was shut down. However, Ogunbowale came to the rescue. He ran for a season-high 120 yards on just 11 carries, including the game-winning touchdown in overtime. Seemingly every time the ball was in his hands, something positive happened for Bucky. Freshman Bradrick Shaw also got involved early in the game with a 21-yard touchdown run to put Wisconsin on the board first. Nebraska is a good run defense, but the Badgers were able to break a few nice runs and gain 223 yards on the ground, with a 5.9 yards per carry average. I do think Wisconsin needs to stick with one offensive line. The unit has struggled this season, but this rushing output is a step in the right direction.
In addition to the running game, the defense stepped up once again. People wondered how Wisconsin would perform without leading tackler Jack Cichy. Ryan Connelly and Leon Jacobs answered those questions, as the two substitutions for Cichy tied for the team lead with 11 tackles. Connelly added two tackles for loss and two passes defensed. Nebraska had 152 yards on the ground, but only had a 3.5 yards per carry average. Terrell Newby was the only Cornhusker to have more than four yards per carry, having 17 carries for 77 yards. For as solid as the run defense played, the pass defense was even better. Tommy Armstrong is not the best passer in college football, but he was held to 12-of-31 passing for just 153 yards and was picked off twice. Nebraska’s No. 1 wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp was held to three catches for 62 yards. The Badgers had 10 pass break-ups in the game, their most since registering 10 against Oregon State in 2011. This secondary has been scary good this year and may get even better this week if No. 3 cornerback Natrell Jamerson comes back for the game this week.
Wisconsin struggled getting off the field on third down in the game. This was new, as the Badgers have generally been really good at getting teams off the field on third down, but the Cornhuskers were 9-of-18 on the money down. In all fairness, though, Nebraska is one of the best teams in the country in converting third downs. Unless it becomes a trend, I think this was a one game thing. I also think they need to stick with one offensive. It is hard to do with all the injuries, but it is hard to get continuity with all of the shuffling of the offensive line.
I sound like a broken record, but I would not consider this game to be pretty and I would say both teams did not play great. Fortunately, Wisconsin was a little bit better and the defense made a huge play in overtime to seal the victory. The Badgers are nearing the end of the gauntlet, as the schedule softens considerably after the trip to Evanston on Saturday.