MADISON, Wis. - Big Ten Conference football is finally here for Nebraska.
NU officially makes their Big Ten debut tonight when they take the field against No. 7 ranked Wisconsin.
Nebraska enters tonight's match-up with the Badgers as 9 ½ point underdog. Here are Saturday's keys to victory against Wisconsin, along with our HOL.com staff and guest predictions.
Hit the open man
Wisconsin is going to load the box tonight and force quarterback Taylor Martinez to throw the football.
When the Badgers put eight or nine men up to slow down Martinez, it will be key that he exploits that. Expect Wisconsin to also run a lot of zone looks, which could allow Martinez to find some big plays down the field.
Pressure Wilson in the pocket
Through four games nobody has effectively gotten pressure on Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson.
Nebraska has to find a way to get to Wilson, as if he has all day to throw the football it's going to be a very long game.
Defensive line coach John Papuchis said a big part of getting to Wilson will be collapsing the pocket with an interior pass rush.
Exploit Badgers lack of speed
If there's one thing Nebraska can really exploit on Wisconsin, it's the Badgers lack of speed on defense.
UW hasn't seen a quarterback like Martinez or an offense like Tim Beck's for that matter. I think we'll know right away today how big of a factor NU's speed on offense is going to play in this game.
Win the return game
Another area where Nebraska could potentially exploit Wisconsin in is on special teams, particularly the return game.
Assuming running back Ameer Abdullah is kicked to, he has the potential to go the distance any time he touches the football. If Abdullah can give NU good field position, that may go a long way in deciding the outcome of this game.
Act like you've been there before
As Nebraska takes the field tonight, I think it's important that they act like they've been there before. NU has been on the big stage plenty of times the last few season and they've seen tough atmospheres like Camp Randall before.
Obviously this game means a lot from a historical standpoint, but on the field Nebraska just has to treat it like another game.
Callahan's weekly predictions
For the record I think Nebraska can win this football game and I've gone back and forth on my pick. However, with this game being at Wisconsin and at night, I think that's a huge advantage for the Badgers. I also think the style Wisconsin plays with on offense could give Nebraska some real problems. I'll take the Badgers straight up, but they won't cover the 9 ½ point spread.
Wisconsin 38 Nebraska 34
Ohio State 27 Michigan State 20
Texas A&M 41 Arkansas 33
Season Record: 8-4 overall; 7-5 vs. points