3-2-1: Wisconsin looks to retain another trophy against Nebraska
Another busy week for No. 15 Wisconsin starts back up as they begin preparation to face the underachieving Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday in Lincoln.
BadgerBlitz's "3-2-1" series breaks down three more things we learned after this weekend, two questions we have and one prediction heading into Nebraska week.
THREE THINGS WE LEARNED AFTER WISCONSIN'S WIN
1. An active Danny Davis on the field can be a difference maker
The junior wide receiver showed an ability, like Kendric Pryor, to make an impact both running the ball and catching throws from Wisconsin quarterbacks.
On Saturday, Davis' 17-yard touchdown run off a jet sweep kicked off UW's scoring, and the program never trailed after that. The timing on taking that shotgun/pistol snap seemed almost too perfect, and quarterback Jack Coan confirmed that after that game.
"I was supposed to snap it a little earlier, but as long as it wasn't behind him, it was good," Coan said with a smile.
Later in the game, Coan found Davis, this time through the air for a four-yard touchdown before halftime.
On the season, Davis ranks second on the team in catches (25), though he is averaging under eight yards per reception. The longest reception he has hauled in is just 14 yards. However, he can still make an impact in several ways for Wisconsin's offense.
2. The two-point conversion stop and the ensuing offensive drive showed the mettle of this team.
BadgerBlitz.com broke down the play in a Sunday article, and outside linebacker Zack Baun believed that was one that symbolized the rivalry between the two programs.
In my opinion, it also showed the ability of Wisconsin to battle back from giving up what could have been a game-tying scoring drive. Mistakes were made, but with a short memory, the defense put up a human brick wall in the form of Chris Orr and Eric Burrell to negate Nate Stanley's quarterback draw.
Then on offense, the ability to run six straight plays and drai the clock displayed what was missing in the two previous losses with the line asserting itself and allowing Jonathan Taylor and Co. to make some key runs.
3. Minnesota appears like its the real deal
A lot of us in the media game, including myself, wrote off P.J. Fleck's program with their 8-0 record with close non-conference calls and devouring unimpressive opposing offenses.
Make no mistake, Penn State shot itself in the foot, especially with coming up short within Minnesota's 10-yard line twice. Three interceptions in a road environment that was filled with energy and longing to break out of a long-held mediocre mold doomed the Nittany Lions' chances at a last minute win. However, Goldy also gashed James Franklin's defense, and the program deserves all the credit for upsetting a team previously ranked No. 4 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings.
Now, the question is if the Gophers keep up the emotion and energy in a tough road environment at Iowa -- where top 10 teams have had difficulties in recent memory. Maybe the next question that needs to be asked -- will the Nov. 30 game between Minnesota and Wisconsin actually be for the Big Ten West division, or will the Badgers be hoping to spoil an undefeated season?
TWO QUESTIONS WE HAVE HEADING INTO NEBRASKA WEEK
1. Which Adrian Martinez will we see on Saturday?
Last season, Martinez came into Camp Randall Stadium as a true freshman and lit up the Wisconsin defense for 384 yards and two touchdowns through the air, with another score on the ground.
Overall in 2018, Martinez completed 65 percent of his passes for over 2,600 yards with 17 touchdowns to eight interceptions. He also ran for 630 yards with eight rushing scores.
2019 has been a different story, however, with the sophomore battling injury. He has completed under 60 percent of his throws for 1,492 yards with seven touchdowns to six interceptions. Martinez still is a ground threat, actually leading in rushing with 399 yards.
A bye week for Nebraska very well can help right a ship, as it did for Wisconsin, but how can UW's defense make Martinez uncomfortable and make him make poor decisions to continue his apparent sophomore slump?
2. How severe is Bryson Williams injury?
The sophomore nose tackle suffered what appeared to be a left leg injury on Saturday. BadgerBlitz.com will update this section of the post once we receive the preliminary status report delivered by UW later on Monday morning.
Having depth along the defensive line has helped Wisconsin this season resume its normally stout performances, and both Williams and true freshman Keeanu Benton being solid nose tackles contributed to that. Benton has actually started five games this season and played in eight of the nine contests, and his emergence lessens the blow of any injury news Wisconsin may disseminate.
However, not having Williams' presence and potential contributions available can affect this unit.
ONE PREDICTION: Wisconsin rushes for over 300 yards against Nebraska
Nebraska on average has allowed opponents to rush for 173.7 yards per contest this season on 4.3 yards per carry. In conference play, however, the Huskers have allowed just under 220 yards per game. That includes 221 to Illinois, 368 to Ohio State, and 322 to Minnesota.
Even Purdue, who now averages under 80 yards per game through 10 games, rushed for 145 two Saturdays ago. Maybe I'm hyping up the Wisconsin ground game too much in a small sample size after its 300-yard performance against Iowa this week, but I believe the Badgers have a huge opportunity to wear down and overwhelm Scott Frost's defense.