HIGHLIGHTS: Badgers comeback dooms Huskers 15-14
LINCOLN - It’s a story Husker fans have seen before. Yet another one score loss, another loss to Wisconsin, and a ground and pound run game that wears the Blackshirts down. That was all on display on a chilly Saturday at Memorial Stadium as Nebraska fell to Wisconsin 15-14, spoiling senior day for the Big Red.
"I gotta do a better job of helping them close people out," Interim Head Coach Mickey Joseph said. "That's going to happen with maturity and doing a better job. I take my hat off to these kids. Good character group and they're not going to quit. I told them today, they're a much better football team than when I met them in December. We're going to continue to get better."
Quarterback Casey Thompson started the game for the Huskers for the first time since Oct. 29th and led the team in rushing yards, totaling 33 of Nebraska's 65 yards on the ground.
With neither team being able to move the ball much in the first quarter, the game remained tied 0-0 at the end of the first 15 minutes.
The major first half turning point came mid-way through the second quarter when DB Malcom Hartzog picked off Graham Mertz for his second interception of the season. That set up the first of two passing touchdowns for Thompson and the first of two receiving touchdowns for Trey Palmer to give Nebraska a 7-0 lead. After a missed field goal by the Badgers, Nebraska would lead 7-0 at half.
Wisconsin committed to the run game early in the game and it stayed that way in the second half. However, Nebraska's defense came up big in passing situations to keep the Badgers off the board. Nebraska's first score of the second half was set up by a targeting on Wisconsin's Nick Herbig - he would be ejected and later got another penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct after his ejection. That targeting then set up a 19-yard touchdown pass from Thompson to Palmer yet again. Nebraska would lead 14-3.
Wisconsin found the end zone with 10 minutes remaining on a pass from Mertz to Skyler Bell. They would go for two and fail, making the score 14-9. Nebraska was determined to stick with the run game late and it didn't pay off - needing a first down to likely ice the game, Nebraska couldn't do it. Wisconsin would then drive down the field and Mertz, with a QB sneak, would give the Badgers a 15-14 lead. They would again fail on a 2-point conversion. Nebraska was unable to move the ball into field goal range on the final drive
The Badgers out-gained Nebraska 235-65 on the ground with Braylon Allen and Chez Mellusi combined for 200 of those yards. Casey Thompson gave his thoughts on the Badgers run-first style of play.
"In the Big Ten there's good defenses and good running game," Thompson said. "Wisconsin, all they did was run the ball... When you play against a team that's going to run the ball a lot, that has a good running game, and is going to us a lot of clock, it's also important for us to sustain drives."
The Huskers have not won a game against Wisconsin since 2012 and have another rivalry game with the Iowa Hawkeyes on the slate on Black Friday to close out the season.
Check out our game highlights in the video above!