GAME 13: NEBRASKA vs. WISCONSIN
BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
DEC. 1, 2012 | LUCAS OIL STADIUM
INDIANAPOLIS, IND. | 7 p.m. (CT)
TV - FOX
RADIO - Husker Sports Network
NATIONAL RADIO - Compass Media Network
SATELLITE RADIO - Sirius Channel 91, XM 91
INTERNET RADIO - Huskers.com
Record: 10-2, 7-1 Big Ten
Rankings: Coaches-13; AP-14; BCS-12
Last Game: def. Iowa, 13-7
Coach: Bo Pelini
Career | NU Record: 49-18/5th year
vs. Wisconsin: 1-1
Record: 7-5, 4-4 Big Ten
Rankings: Coaches-NR; AP-NR
Last Game: lost to Penn State, 24-21 (OT)
Coach: Bret Bielema
Career | UW Record: 67-24/7th year
vs. Nebraska: 1-1
Nebraska travels to Indianapolis this Saturday in search of the program’s first conference title in 13 seasons, as the Huskers meet Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game. Kickoff from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis is set for 8:17 p.m. ET, with national television coverage provided by FOX.
The Huskers are making their third conference title game appearance in the past four seasons, after appearing in the 2009 and 2010 Big 12 title games in NU’s final two seasons in the conference. Nebraska earned its trip to the Big Ten Championship Game by winning the Legends Division crown with a 7-1 conference record and a 10-2 overall mark. Nebraska secured its third 10-win season under Bo Pelini with a 13-7 victory at Iowa last Friday.
Nebraska will carry a six-game win streak into its matchup with the Badgers, the Huskers’ longest since winning their last game in 2009 and first five games in 2010. The Huskers head to the Big Ten Championship Game ranked 14th in the Associated Press Poll, 13th by the Coaches and 12th in the BCS standings.
Wisconsin will go to Indianapolis with a 7-5 record and a 4-4 mark in the Big Ten. All five of Wisconsin’s losses this season have been by seven points or less, with three setbacks in overtime. The Badgers will be looking for their third consecutive Big Ten title after appearing in the Rose Bowl each of the past two seasons. The Badgers won the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game over Michigan State last season with a thrilling 42-39 victory.
The winner of Saturday night’s matchup in Indianapolis will earn the Big Ten’s bid to the Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 1. A trip to the Rose Bowl would mark NU’s first BCS berth since the 2001 season.
Nebraska and Wisconsin will meet for just the eighth time overall, but it will be the third meeting between the two schools in the past 14 months as members of the Big Ten Conference. Nebraska owns a 4-3 edge in the series between the schools, including a 30-27 win in Lincoln on Sept. 29.
Nebraska: Bo Pelini (Ohio State, ‘90) owns a 49-18 record (.731) in his fifth season. Pelini has guided NU to nine or more wins in each of his first five seasons as head coach, joining Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne in accomplishing that feat at Nebraska. Pelini is one of only four first-time head coaches in NCAA history to win at least nine games in each of his first five seasons at a BCS conference school.
Wisconsin: Bret Bielema (Iowa, ‘92) is in his seventh season as the head coach at Wisconsin and owns a 67-24 record with the Badgers. Bielema has guided Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl each of the past two seasons and under his direction Wisconsin has won 10 or more games four times.
Coming off of back-to-back seasons with 10-or-more victories, Wisconsin enters Saturday’s Big Ten Championship Game with an overall record of 7-5. The Badgers finished third in the Leaders Division standings with a 4-4 conference record, but advanced to the title game as the two teams ahead of them in the standings (Ohio State and Penn State) are ineligible for postseason play.
Despite a 7-5 record, Wisconsin is the defending Big Ten champion, defeating Michigan State in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game last season. The Badgers are unranked, but have been very close to posting a better record this fall. Wisconsin’s five losses have come by a combined 19 points, including three overtime defeats. All but one of the Badgers’ five losses have come by a single field goal, with the exception of a seven-point overtime loss to Ohio State, which is ranked in the top five and finished the season with a perfect 12-0 record. Overall, Wisconsin’s last nine losses have been by seven points or less, as the Badgers have not lost by more than one score since a 34-24 loss at Michigan State on Oct. 2, 2010.
Offensively, Wisconsin is averaging 27.5 points per game, 212.7 rushing yards and 167.8 passing yards. The Badgers are led by running back Montee Ball, who scored his 79th career touchdown at Penn State last Saturday, setting an NCAA FBS career record. Ball is the Big Ten’s leading rusher with 1,528 yards this season, and he is just 162 yards away from becoming the 17th player in NCAA FBS history to rush for 5,000 yards in a career.
Ball has also provided stability to a Wisconsin backfield that has seen three different starting quarterbacks this season. Curt Phillips, who has started the last three games, is completing 52.6 percent of his passes and is averaging 77.2 passing yards per game.
Defensively, Wisconsin is allowing an average of 18.1 points per game, and the Badgers have held every opponent under 30 points this season, except for Nebraska. UW boasts one of the Big Ten’s top linebacking corps, as Mike Taylor (115 tackles), Ethan Armstrong and Chris Borland have combined for 280 tackles this season. The Badgers rank 11th nationally in total defense and 12th in rushing defense.
Nebraska leads the all-time series, 4-3, after snapping Wisconsin’s two-game winning streak with a come-from-behind 30-27 victory in Lincoln on Sept. 29 in the Big Ten Conference opener for both teams. Overall, the Huskers have won four of the last six matchups, with Nebraska being ranked in the top 20 in each of those meetings. The teams will be meeting at a neutral site for only the second time in series history on Saturday, as the first game in series history was an 18-0 Wisconsin victory on Nov. 2, 1901 in Milwaukee.
Wisconsin Athletic Director and former Badger Head Coach Barry Alvarez was a Husker linebacker in Nebraska’s 37-0 win in Lincoln in 1965 and NU’s 31-3 win in Madison the following season.
After defeating Wisconsin earlier this season, Nebraska will be aiming to defeat the same opponent twice in one season for only the fourth time in school history and for the first time since a pair of victories over Nebraska Wesleyan in 1896.
Bret Bielema is in his seventh season at Wisconsin, where he owns a 67-24 record heading into Saturday’s game. Bielema boasts the seventh-best winning percentage (.736) among active FBS head coaches, and UW has won a pair of Big Ten titles and earned two trips to the Rose Bowl under his watch, including a 42-39 win over Michigan State in last year’s inaugural Big Ten Championship Game. Bielema, who is 10-14 in his career against ranked teams, is trying to defeat a team he lost to earlier in the same season for the second time in his career, a feat he also accomplished in last year’s title game vs. MSU.
A three-time finalist for the Bear Bryant National Coach-of-the-Year award, Bielema is 1-1 against Nebraska as a head coach, suffering his first defeat against the Huskers in the 2012 Big Ten opener for both teams. Overall, Bielema has faced NU six times, going 3-3 against the Cornhuskers. He is 3-1 against Nebraska as a head coach or coordinator, adding a pair of victories over NU in 2002 and 2003 as Kansas State’s defensive coordinator.
Overall, Bielema owns 19 seasons of collegiate coaching experience. He was at Iowa from 1994 to 2001, spent the 2002 and 2003 seasons at Kansas State and has been at Wisconsin since 2004, taking over as head coach in 2006.
Huskers Secure Fifth Straight Nine-Win Season
Nebraska heads into the Big Ten Championship Game with a 10-2 overall record, and has secured its fifth straight nine-win campaign under Head Coach Bo Pelini, and its third 10-win season in Pelini’s five years. The streak of five straight nine-win seasons puts Nebraska in an elite class nationally and continues a long tradition of winning nine or more games at Nebraska.
- The five straight years of nine wins marks the first time NU has accomplished that since its NCAA record streak of 33 straight nine-win seasons from 1969 to 2001.
- Nebraska was one of eight schools with nine wins or more each season from 2008 to 2011, joining TCU, Oregon, Boise State, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, Alabama and West Virginia. Among that group, Nebraska, Boise State, Oregon and Alabama have reached nine wins in 2012. TCU and Oklahoma State each have seven wins with two games to play, while West Virginia and Virginia Tech will not reach nine wins this season.
- Nebraska has 47 nine-win seasons in school history, including 40 in the last 44 seasons since 1969.
- The win at Iowa gave Nebraska its 27th all-time 10-win season, including 24 since 1970. This season marks just the second season in the past 11 years with 10 regular-season wins (2010).
- A win against Wisconsin would secure Nebraska’s first 11-win season since 2001 and the 13th season in school history with 11 or more victories.
Huskers Earn Legends Division Crown, Title Game Berth with Win
Nebraska’s win at Iowa clinched the Huskers’ spot in the Big Ten Championship Game and Legends Division title. Nebraska finished at 7-1 in Big Ten play, a game ahead of Michigan in the Legends Division.
- Nebraska will be making its third appearance in a conference championship game in the past four seasons after playing in the Big 12 Championship Game in both 2009 and 2010. Nebraska is the only school in the country to play in a conference title game three times between 2009 and 2012.
- Since the first season of play in the Big 12 Conference in 1996, Nebraska has played in six previous conference championship games, compiling a 2-4 record in Big 12 title games. Nebraska’s two Big 12 title game setbacks under Bo Pelini came by one and three points, respectively.
- In addition to its six title game appearances in 15 seasons in the Big 12, Nebraska also earned a share of the North Division title in 2001 and 2008. Adding in this year’s Legends Division crown, Nebraska has won at least a share of its division title in nine of 17 seasons since 1996.
Huskers Set for Rare Rematch with Wisconsin
The Big Ten Championship Game matchup between Nebraska and Wisconsin will be a rare rematch for the Cornhuskers. Nebraska met Washington twice in the 2010 season, facing the Huskies in Seattle before the two teams squared off again in the Holiday Bowl. This game will mark just the second time in Nebraska’s seven conference championship games that it has faced a rematch. In 1999, Nebraska lost at Texas in the regular season before defeating the Longhorns, 22-6, for the conference championship.
- Prior to 1999, Nebraska had previously faced an opponent twice in a season in 1978, when NU defeated Oklahoma in Lincoln, before the two teams met again in the Orange Bowl. Nebraska won the first meeting before dropping the rematch in Miami.
- Nebraska has defeated a team twice in a season only three times in school history. In 1891, Nebraska and Doane College met three times, with NU winning two of those games. In 1894, Nebraska defeated the Omaha YMCA twice, while Nebraska also defeated Nebraska Wesleyan twice in 1896.
Huskers Take Six-Game Winnings Streak to Indy
Nebraska’s victory over Iowa last Friday extended the Huskers’ winning streak to six games. The Huskers’ winning streak is one of the longest in recent years at Nebraska.
- Nebraska’s six-game winning streak is its longest win streak since a six-game winning streak spanning the final game of the 2009 season and the first five of the 2010 season.
- Nebraska’s six-game conference winning streak is its best regular-season conference winning streak since the Huskers won their final five Big 12 regular-season games in 2009 and their Big 12 opener in 2010 for a six-game conference win streak.
- Nebraska now has three six-game win streaks under Bo Pelini, but this is the first six-game win streak within one season. This marks the first time Nebraska has won six straight conference games in the same season since winning its first seven Big 12 games in 2001. Nebraska’s other six-game streaks under Pelini were the previously mentioned six-game streak spanning the 2009 and 2010 seasons and a six-game streak between 2008 and 2009 (final four games of 2008 and first two of 2009).
- A win on Saturday would give Nebraska its longest winning streak since a 13-game winning streak spanning the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
November Run Pushes Nebraska to Big Ten Championship Game
Nebraska posted a perfect 4-0 record in the month of November, including rallies from double-digit deficits against both Michigan State and Penn State, before closing with wins over Minnesota and Iowa. The Huskers have extended their overall winning streak to six games with their 4-0 November run. Under Head Coach Bo Pelini, Nebraska has had a solid track record in November, posting a 16-4 record in the month, with three of the losses on the road against ranked opponents.
Nebraska posted a nine-game November winning streak from the 2008 to 2010 seasons, its longest winning streak in the month since winning 19 straight from 1992 to 1998. The 4-0 November in 2012 is the second perfect November under Pelini, matching a 4-0 record in 2009.
Click on the "Game Notes" link in the related links section at the top of this page for more notes on this weekend's game.