The Call: Big Ten championship game

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER
  • Updated: November 30, 2012 - 11:48 PM

THE OPPONENTS Nebraska is the champion of the Legends Division and has won six straight games since its lone Big Ten loss at Ohio State. Wisconsin finished with the league's fifth-best record at 4-4, third best in the Leaders Division.

HUSKERS OFFENSE VS. BADGERS DEFENSE

Nebraska has an array of weapons, beginning with quarterback Taylor Martinez, who passed for 21 touchdowns and ran for eight more. But despite scoring more points than any Big Ten team but Ohio State, the Huskers are surprisingly mistake-prone, losing an astonishing 20 fumbles. Wisconsin's defense has been fortified with the return of anchors such as middle linebacker Chris Borland; only Michigan State allowed fewer yards than the Badgers.

Advantage: Nebraska

HUSKERS DEFENSE VS. BADGERS OFFENSE

It sounds strange in a matchup between a power running game and a physical defense, but the game may be decided by play-action passes. Badgers quarterback Curt Phillips is making his fourth career start, and while handing off to Montee Ball is obviously Wisconsin's best play, Phillips will need to complete a few passes to keep the Huskers' defense from packing the line.

Advantage: Wisconsin

SPECIAL TEAMS

In senior Brett Maher, the Huskers own the league's most accurate field-goal kicker and one of its best punters, and sophomore Ameer Abdullah is one of the most feared kick returners in the league. Wisconsin is decent but has no comparable weapons. Advantage: Nebraska

INTANGIBLES

The Badgers know their way around this stage, having rallied to beat Michigan State in the first championship game a year ago, and they are motivated to prove their record is misleading. Nebraska has lost two championship games under Bo Pelini, albeit in the Big 12.

Advantage: Wisconsin

PREDICTION

Wisconsin has lost three overtime games in the past month, but the Badgers appear remarkably confident that they can find a way to finish. Here's guessing that Ball and James White hold the ball for long stretches on the ground and somehow force another OT. And this time, Ball and the defense finish the upset.

Wisconsin 27

Nebraska 24

NUMBERS TO KNOW

7

Rushing touchdowns by Montee Ball in two games vs. Nebraska.

13

Seasons since Nebraska won a conference championship, the 1999 Big 12 title.

DON'T FORGET ABOUT

Eric Martin

The senior defensive end finished tied for second in the Big Ten in sacks with 8.5.

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