2012 Big Ten Championship Game
#12 Nebraska Cornhuskers vs Wisconsin Badgers
Saturday, December 1, 2012, 8:15 pm Eastern, TV: Fox
Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana
Opening Line: Nebraska -3
Current Line: Nebraska -3 (-120)
Opening Total: 49
Current Total: 49
Opening Money Line: Nebraska -150 / Wisconsin +130
Current Money Line: Nebraska -155 / Wisconsin +135
Because 12-0 Ohio St and 8-4 Penn St weren’t eligible for the Big Ten Championship game because of NCAA sanctions, 7-5 Wisconsin won the Leader’s Division title almost by default. The Badgers were 4-4 in conference, and finished third behind the 8-0 Buckeyes and 6-2 Nittany Lions. Wisconsin has won 2 straight Big Ten titles.
To win a third straight title, the Badgers will have to beat 10-2 Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship game Saturday night in Indianapolis. The winner will face Pac 12 champion Stanford in the Rose Bowl. The Cornhuskers won the Legend’s Division title with a 7-1 record over 6-2 Michigan. This is the second year for Nebraska in the Big Ten, after many years in the Big 8/12. Nebraska hasn’t won a conference title since 1999.
Nebraska leads the series 4-3 against Wisconsin. The Cornhuskers beat the Badgers 30-27 in Lincoln in September in the Big Ten Opener for both schools. In that game, Wisconsin jumped out to an early 20-3 lead but Nebraska made it 20-10 at halftime. Wisconsin expanded their lead to 27-10 in the third. Nebraska would score 20 unanswered points, including the go-ahead field goal with 9:41 left in the fourth quarter. Wisconsin would get two more possessions, but a lost fumble at their own 49 on fourth and one with 1:11 left sealed the game for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers had 440 total yards, including 259 rushing yards. Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez had 288 combined rushing and passing yards and 3 touchdowns. Wisconsin had 295 total yards, including 239 passing yards. Running back Montee Ball had 90 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns. Nebraska had 2 turnovers, and Wisconsin had just the one at the end of the game.
Nebraska is coached by Bo Pelini. The only losses came at UCLA 36-30 and at Ohio St 63-38. Nebraska has won 6 straight games since the Ohio St game. The Cornhuskers have addtional home wins over Southern Miss 49-20, Arkansas St 42-13, Idaho St 73-7, Michigan 23-9, Penn St 32-23, and Minnesota 38-14, along with road wins at Northwestern 29-28, Michigan St 28-24 and last week at Iowa 13-7. The Cornhuskers are 6-5-1 ATS and the total is 6-4-1 this season. Nebraska was a 14.5 point favorite against Iowa and the total was 48.5.
Nebraska is averaging 460.9 yards per game on offense, including 208.8 passing yards and 252.2 rushing yards. Nebraska is outscoring teams 35-23 this season. The Cornhuskers are in the top 30 nationally in total offense and scoring, and #8 in rushing. Nebraska is #91 in passing though. Nebraska is -8 in turnovers with 29 giveaways. Nebraska has allowed 24 sacks this season and averages 61.5 penalty yards per game. The Cornhuskers are 77/172 on third and fourth down conversions and 46/55 scoring in the red zone with 34 touchdowns. On defense, Nebraska is allowing 318.3 yards per game including 152.2 passing yards and 166.2 rushing yards. The Cornhuskers are #14 in total defense and #1 against the pass nationally. Nebraska has forced 29 sacks and 21 turnovers. Cornhusker opponents are 65/187 on third and fourth down conversions and 29/38 scoring in the red zone with 18 touchdowns. Nebraska has 3 defensive/special teams touchdowns.
Martinez has completed 195 of 308 passes (63.3%) for 2,483 yards, with 21 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Martinez also has 156 carries for 833 yards and 8 touchdowns. Running back Ameer Abdullah has 214 carries, 1,071 yards and 8 touchdowns, along with 23 catches, 167 yards and 2 touchdowns. Abdullah also has a punt return for a touchdown. Rex Burkhead has 63 carries, 474 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 5 catches and a touchdown. He returned against Iowa after missing three games with a knee injury. Imani Cross has 52 carries, 289 yards, and 6 touchdowns. Braylon Heard has 45 carries, 315 yards and 2 touchdowns. Fullback Mike Marrow is questionable with a knee injury. Receiver Kenny Bell has 44 catches, 789 yards and 8 touchdowns. Bell is probable with neck and ankle injuries after missing the Iowa game. Quincy Enunwa has 38 catches, 408 yards and a touchdown. Kyler Reed, Jamal Turner, Ben Cotton, and Steven Osborne also get significant catches. All have two touchdown catches. Seven Huskers are listed as questionable, doubtful, or out including 3 defensive players.
Wisconsin is coached by Brett Bielema. The Badgers have additional road losses at Oregon St 10-7, and last week at Penn St 24-21 in overtime, along with home losses to Michigan St 16-13 in overtime and Ohio St 21-14 also in overtime. All five losses are by a touchdown or less, and four of the five were by 3 points. The Badgers have home wins over Northern Iowa 26-21, Utah St 16-14, UTEP 37-26, Illinois 31-14, and Minnesota 38-13, along with road wins at Purdue 38-14, and Indiana 62-14. Wisconsin is 5-7 ATS and the total is 7-4 this season. The Badgers were 1 point underdogs against Penn St and the total was 44.5.
Wisconsin averages 380.4 yards per game on offense, including 167.8 passing yards and 212.7 rushing yards per game. The Badgers are #24 in rushing and #112 in passing nationally. Wisconsin is outscoring teams 28-18 this season. The Badgers are +1 in turnovers with 11 giveaways. Wisconsin averages 34.6 penalty yards per game and has allowed 27 sacks this season. The Badgers are 66/187 on third and fourth down conversions and 34/43 scoring in the red zone with 26 touchdowns. On defense, Wisconsin allows 308 yards per game, including 196.6 passing yards and 111.4 rushing yards. The Badgers are in the top 25 nationally in all defensive categories. Wisconsin has forced 12 turnovers and 25 sacks this season. Badger opponents are 72/204 on third and fourth down conversions and 24/26 scoring in the red zone with 17 touchdowns.
Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave is out for the season with a shoulder injury. He took over as the starter from Danny O’Brien midway through the season. Curt Phillips has started the last two games, with O’Brien as his back-up. Stave passed for 1,104 yards with 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. O’Brien has thrown for 523 yards with 3 touchdowns and an interception. Phillips is 30/57 passing for 386 yards with 4 touchdowns and an interception. O’Brien could see some snaps against Nebraska.
Ball has 311 carries for 1,528 yards with 18 touchdowns, and 9 catches for 65 yards. He set the NCAA career record for total touchdowns last week in the Penn St game. James White has 104 carries, 693 yards, and 8 touchdowns, along with 5 catches, 105 yards and a touchdown. Melvin Gordon has 44 carries, 354 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 2 catches, 65 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Jared Abbrederis has 44 catches, 764 yards, and 5 touchdowns, along with 83 rushing yards. Jacob Pedersen has 25 catches, 337 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Jordan Fredrick, Derek Watt, and Kenzel Doe will get significant targets as well. Doe has a punt return for a touchdown.
Nebraska is 3-0-1 ATS against teams with winning records, 3-1-1 in Big Ten games, after a straight up win, overall, and after passing for 170 yards or less, 5-2 in December, and after gaining less than 275 total yards, 3-8 after allowing less than 20 points, and 1-5 after allowing less than 275 total yards. Wisconsin is 2-5 ATS after failing to cover.
Nebraska was the only team to score more than 26 points against Wisconsin. Nebraska is clearly the superior team here, but Wisconsin should keep it close with their defense. The Badgers have suffered 3 excruciating overtime losses in their last 4 games. I think everything will come up Roses for the Huskers.
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