Nebraska opens Big 10 play against the Wisconsin Badgers Saturday in Lincoln. Last season the Huskers were routed in Madison 48-17 by the Badgers. A lot has changed in a year. Nebraska and Wisconsin entered last season both ranked in the top 10, and undefeated. This season, Nebraska is 3-1 and ranked No. 22 in the country. The Badgers have fallen even further down the college football ladder. They enter Saturdays game 2-2, and is the 102nd ranked scoring offense in the country.
Here are 5 players who could have a major impact for the Badgers on Saturday.
Joel Stave, Quarterback #2
Maybe the biggest thing missing from this Badger squad from a year ago, Russell Wilson. He is busy calling signals in Seattle. Enter Danny O’Brien. Like Wilson a transfer from another major BCS Conference, Maryland. Despite putting up numbers like, completing 62% of his passes, and throwing for 5 touchdowns, O’Brein was benched, and the Badgers are ranked 113th in passing offense in the country. Walk-on quarterback Joel Stave started last week against UTEP, and completed 60.2% of his passes, and threw a touchdown, and 1 interception. Stave could have a long day, if Nebraska senior defensive end, Eric Martin plays like he did last Saturday. The Badgers have given up 8 sacks through four games.
Jared Abbrederis, Wide Receiver #4
Abbrederis finished last season with 55 catches. He has 13 catches this season, and 3 touchdowns. Last season the former walk-on wide receiver rushed 11 times for 62 yards last season. This season, Abbrederis, like any other Badger, has struggled rushing the ball. He has 2 rushes for -2 yards. All eyes in the Nebraska secondary will be on No. 4 Saturday. Stopping him will be the key to stopping the Badgers offense for the Blackshirts.
James White, Running Back #20
Last season Montee Ball ended last season in New York, hoping to win a Hiesman Trophy. This season he has started with only 360 yards on 93 attempts, and just 3 touchdowns. Ball suffered a head injury last week against UTEP, and no word has come out if he will play or not. White filled in for the injured Hiesman finalist last week, and finished the game with 15 carries for 65 yards, and 2 touchdowns. If Ball can’t go, White will get the start for the Badgers on Saturday.
Konrad Zagzebski, Defensive End #74
If you are scratching your head while you read this, that would be the normal response. Zagzebski has not recorded a single stat for the Badgers in his two years in Wisconsin. So why should we highlight his name? He will be starting over junior David Gilbert Saturday. Gilbert decided to cause a stir on Wednesday. Telling the media in Wisconsin that he was not impressed with Nebraska quarterback, Taylor Martinez’s throwing motion. Saying Martinez throwing motion looks like he is “skipping rocks.” Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema said that Gilbert will be standing next to him on the sidelines for the first play. Bielema said he will be “Skipping rocks on the sidelines,” with his head coach. The Badgers are very thin at defensive end as is. Redshirt senior Brendan Kelly is out with hamstring, and redshirt junior Pat Muldoon is out with a broken hand.
Mike Taylor, Linebacker #53
The senior linebacker leads the team in tackles with 40. He has recorded 4.5 tackles for loss, and 3 pass break ups this season. Taylor led the Badgers in tackling a year ago with 150. With Nebraska struggling in pass protection, Taylor may record his first sack of the season on Saturday. No. 53 is the guy on defense that needs to be accounted for every single play. Junior linebacker Chris Borland will be a player to watch as well, he has 3 sacks already this season, he wears number 44.
By Jimmie Allen
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