Badgers face off with Huskers for round 2

first_imgThree hundred and sixty four days ago, Camp Randall roared.The normally solid red bowl was freckled black. Nebraska was finally in town. But little to its knowledge, Nebraska was about to receive one of the worst welcomes to the Big Ten it could have feared.It was highly touted as one of the biggest matchups in the Big Ten last year, but when the final score flashed on the scoreboards, the 48-17 decision seemed more like an ass-kicking rather than a battle of epic proportions.After quarterback Taylor Martinez threw three interceptions and Montee Ball scored four touchdowns, the Cornhuskers faced embarrassment as they were largely expected to run the conference slate in their move from the Big 12.With Nebraska playing host to the rematch this season, the Badgers are excited to get their first chance to play in Lincoln in an atmosphere that’s said to rival Madison’s.“I’ve heard there’s a really great atmosphere there,” junior center Travis Frederick said. “I hear they do things a little bit different than other teams, but I’m excited to get down there. I heard it’s a great stadium, a great atmosphere, a great crowd. Obviously they’re going to be loud and its kind of fun to play road games.”After a solid 210-yard passing performance last week, redshirt freshman Joel Stave will start under center in the conference opener. Senior running back Ball also said there was “no doubt” he will play this week despite sitting out most of the UTEP game after sustaining a concussion near the beginning of the second quarter.“I know I don’t want to sit out of the game,” Ball said.With 213 yards on the ground against UTEP, the offensive line and the running game finally looked like they were starting to gel – elements that had been missing in the previous three weeks.With a stronger looking offense in its final nonconference game, Frederick feels the O-line – despite all its drama previously this season – is ready for what lies ahead.“I think that we’ve taken several good steps and I think we’re working in the correct direction,” Frederick said of the offensive line. “If we continue to take those steps – I think we are going to take a step this week – we’re definitely going to be ready for the Big Ten season.”While the Badgers hope their new-found offensive vibe finds its way to Lincoln, the Huskers are optimistic quarterback Taylor Martinez will continue his stellar season.Martinez, a dual-threat quarterback, reworked his throwing motion in the offseason and has seen it pay dividends through the nonconference season. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound junior has thrown for 878 yards and nine touchdowns, with only one interception, this season.Wisconsin’s defense is aware of Martinez’s revamped game but still remains confident it will be able to test him.“We just have to keep our eyes on him and know whether it’s a pass, and if it’s a pass he could take off and run and get our eyes back on him,” senior linebacker Mike Taylor said. “If he breaks out, breaks contain, we’ve got to have good pursuit and get to the ball.”While Martinez has overhauled his game, Wisconsin is also keying in on Nebraska’s run game, which has scored 14 touchdowns this season.Central to that running game is senior Rex Burkhead. Burkhead has missed a few games this season, but on 11 rushing attempts this season, he’s racked up 187 yards and three touchdowns.“You’ve got to play sound,” junior linebacker Chris Borland said of UW’s rush defense, which has allowed only one touchdown in 2012. “You’ve got to be in the right place when you’re supposed to be there and then you’ve got to tackle. … They’re a great group of players so you’re going to have to do both your scheme and play well.”For the first time this season, Wisconsin hits the road as a true underdog. From the short history between both teams and Wisconsin’s recent stumbles, odds are against the Badgers as they travel to Nebraska.“For us it just comes [down to] doing what we do,” Frederick said. “Coming out and practicing the way that we do all week and hopefully going out and playing the game as well as we have played – obviously taking a step forward. I think it comes down to just being who we are.”Follow Kelly on Twitterlast_img

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