The Huskers face Wisconsin in primetime at 7 p.m. on ABC
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Welcome Wisconsin for Big Ten Opener

By NU Athletic Communications

LINCOLN, NEB. | 7 p.m. (CT)

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Record: 3-1, 0-0 Big Ten
Rankings: Coaches-20; AP-22
Last Game: def. Idaho State, 73-7
Coach: Bo Pelini
Career/NU Record: 42-17/5th year 
vs. Wisconsin: 0-1

Record: 3-1, 0-0 Big Ten
Rankings: Coaches-23; AP-NR
Last Game: def. UTEP, 37-26
Coach: Bret Bielema
Career/UW Record: 63-20/7th year
vs. NU: 1-0

The Matchup
Nebraska completes its three-game homestand this Saturday night when the Huskers open Big Ten Conference play against Wisconsin at Memorial Stadium. The matchup between Big Ten powers will be televised nationally on ABC with kickoff set for shortly after 7 p.m. (CDT). Saturday's game also marks Homecoming at Nebraska.

The Huskers completed non-conference play with a 3-1 record after rolling to a 73-7 victory over Idaho State last Saturday in Lincoln. The NU offense continued to show its explosive ability against the Bengals by racking up seven scoring plays of 20 yards or more. Defensively, Nebraska limited Idaho State to 210 yards of total offense and just 31 yards on the ground. Nebraska enters Saturday night's contest ranked 22nd in the Associated Press Poll and 20th in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

Wisconsin comes into the game with a 3-1 record after a 37-26 victory over UTEP last Saturday in Madison. The Badgers have won two straight following a road setback at Oregon State on Sept. 8. Wisconsin has an offense that averages 312.8 yards per game, while the Badgers have been solid on defense, allowing just 80.8 rushing yards and 17.8 points per game. The Badgers are unranked in the AP poll, but check in at No. 23 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

Nebraska will be looking to win its conference home opener for the second straight year after losing three straight league home openers from 2008 to 2010. Overall, Nebraska is 2-2 in conference openers under Bo Pelini.

The Series
Saturday's game will mark the seventh all-time meeting between Nebraska and Wisconsin, with the series currently tied at three wins apiece. Nebraska has won the only two meetings in Lincoln, defeating the Badgers at Memorial Stadium in 1965 and 1973. Following this matchup, Nebraska and Wisconsin are not scheduled to meet again until 2015 in Madison.

The Coaches

Bo Pelini (Ohio State, ‘90) owns a 42-17 record in his fifth season. Pelini has guided NU to nine or more wins in each of his first four seasons as head coach, joining Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne and Frank Solich in accomplishing that feat. Pelini is one of only six first-time head coaches in NCAA history to win at least nine games in each of his first four seasons at a BCS conference school.

Bret Bielema (Iowa, ‘92) is in his seventh season as the Wisconsin head coach. Bielema owns a 63-20 record with the Badgers, including back-to-back Big Ten Conference championships and Rose Bowl appearances in 2010 and 2011. Bielema has guided UW to a bowl appearance in each of his first six seasons and to five top-25 finishes. Before being named the Badgers' head coach, Bielema was an assistant at Wisconsin, Kansas State and Iowa.

Scouting Wisconsin:
Wisconsin is 3-1 this season, as the Badgers did not enter Big Ten Conference play undefeated for the first time in seven seasons under Head Coach Bret Bielema. The Badgers' lone loss this season came at Oregon State in week two, a 10-7 setback in which Wisconsin totaled 207 yards of offense, including just 35 yards on the ground. The Badgers have trailed at the half in two of their first four games this season, and three of Wisconsin's first four games have been decided by five points or less.

Offensively, UW is led by running back Montee Ball, a 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist who suffered a head injury last Saturday. Ball has rushed for 360 yards on 93 carries this season, scoring three touchdowns. Ball leads all active FBS players nationally with 55 rushing touchdowns and 64 total touchdowns. He ranks second nationally with 3,670 career rushing yards.

Ball's average of 90.0 rushing yards per game is more than half of the team's average of 143.0, as Wisconsin ranks 86thth nationally in rushing offense, 110th in passing offense and 110th in total offense. Redshirt freshman quarterback Joel Stave earned his first start last Saturday, completing 12-of-17 passes for 210 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Defensively, Wisconsin has been stout this season. The Badgers rank 13th nationally by allowing only 80.8 rushing yards per game. Through the air, UW is allowing 245.3 passing yards per game. Wisconsin ranks 33rd nationally in scoring defense and 31st nationally in total defense, but the Badgers have been hurt by a lack of turnovers. Wisconsin did not force a single turnover in its first three games, before recovering a fumble against UTEP last Saturday.

Series History
The all-time series between Nebraska and Wisconsin is tied at 3-3, and the Badgers have won the last two meetings. Last season, No. 7 Wisconsin defeated the eighth-ranked Huskers, 48-17, in Nebraska's first Big Ten Conference game. In the last meeting in Lincoln 39 years ago this week, No. 2 Nebraska defeated Wisconsin 20-16 in Tom Osborne's first season as head coach. Nebraska is 2-0 against the Badgers in Lincoln. The matchup marks the sixth straight meeting where the Huskers are ranked at game time, but tonight is the first time during that stretch when NU is not ranked in the top 10.

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.

Wisconsin Head Coach Bret Bielema
Bret Bielema is in his seventh season at Wisconsin, where he owns a 63-20 record heading into Saturday's matchup. Bielema owns the fifth-best winning percentage among active FBS head coaches, and the Badgers have averaged 10 wins per season in Bielema's first six full seasons, winning a pair of Big Ten titles, earning two trips to the Rose Bowl and five top-25 finishes.

A three-time finalist for the Bear Bryant Coach-of-the-Year award, Bielema is 1-0 against Nebraska as a head coach. Overall, Bielema has faced NU five times, going 3-2 against the Cornhuskers. In addition to last year's win, Bielema squared off against the Huskers in 2002 and 2003 while he was co-defensive coordinator at Kansas State. The Wildcats defeated the Huskers 49-13 in 2002, before posting a 38-9 victory in Lincoln in 2003, when Bo Pelini was on the sidelines as Nebraska's defensive coordinator. In three games against NU as a coordinator or head coach, Bielema is 3-0 and his teams have won by an average score of 45-13. His two losses to the Huskers came as linebackers coach at Iowa in 1999 and 2000.

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.

Nebraska-Wisconsin Debuts adidas "Unrivaled" Game
As the official athletic outfitter for both Nebraska and Wisconsin, adidas selected this week's game for its inaugural “Unrivaled Game,” an annual matchup of top adidas-sponsored programs. The Nebraska-Wisconsin game is themed “The Quick and the Red.”

Both teams are wearing new adidas TECHFIT uniforms that celebrate each school's rich football heritage. Nebraska's uniform is head-to-toe red and showcases a black “N” on the chest. The Huskers will also wear a black helmet to honor the program's Blackshirt tradition, and the helmet will feature a red block “N” and red stripe.

Wisconsin will have a similar look, with a head-to-toe white uniform with a red “W” on the chest. The Badgers' helmet will be red with a white stripe and white “W” that harkens back to the days of Wisconsin's 1962 Big Ten championship team, which wore a block “W” on its helmets 50 years ago this fall.

Huskers Look for Success in Big Ten Opener
Nebraska will look to get off to a strong start in Big Ten play on Saturday night against Wisconsin. The Huskers have traditionally started league play well, owning an 86-20-2 all-time record in conference openers. 

* Bo Pelini-coached Nebraska teams have a 2-2 record in conference openers, including last year's loss at No. 7 Wisconsin. Both of the losses in conference openers have come against top-10 opponents (vs. No. 4 Missouri in 2008, at No. 7 Wisconsin in 2011).

* Nebraska has won its first conference game in 34 of the last 37 seasons.

* In conference home openers, NU has an 85-13-4 record, including 30 straight victories from 1978 to 2007. Last year, the Huskers staged the largest comeback in school history, rallying from a 27-6 deficit to defeat Ohio State and snap a three-game losing streak in league home openers.

Huskers on Homecoming
Saturday's game marks Nebraska's 102nd all-time Homecoming game. Nebraska boasts an all-time record of 75-22-4 (.762) in Homecoming games, including a 68-16-3 mark against conference opponents. From 1955 to 2008, the Huskers faced a conference opponent on Homecoming every season. In 2009 and 2010, the Huskers' Homecoming date came against a non-conference opponent, before the Huskers rallied from a 21-point deficit to defeat Ohio State on Homecoming last season in the largest comeback in school history. Nebraska is 3-1 in Homecoming games under Bo Pelini.

Strong NU Run Game to Face Stout Badger Defense

Nebraska is off to a powerful start in the running game in 2012. The Huskers are averaging 317.5 rushing yards per game to rank first in the Big Ten and fifth nationally. Nebraska averages a Big Ten-best 6.6 yards per carry and has racked up 14 rushing touchdowns on the season.

The Huskers will face their stiffest defensive test of the season on Saturday night against Wisconsin. The Badgers rank third in the Big Ten and 13th nationally in rushing defense, allowing just 80.8 yards per game on the ground. Wisconsin opponents have rushed for just one touchdown and average just 2.7 yards per carry.


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