NU falls short in final seconds in 35-28 loss to Badgers
MADISON, Wis. - After a tumultuous past two weeks that saw four offensive assistant coaches fired, Nebraska traveled to take on one of the Big Ten’s hottest teams in No. 15 Wisconsin on Saturday.
As it had been far too often this season, the underdog Huskers gave the Badgers all they could handle until the final seconds but came up short in the end, falling 35-28.
Adrian Martinez, who threw for 351 yards, had NU deep in Wisconsin territory with a chance to tie or even take the lead, but a fourth-down pass fell incomplete with four seconds to play to put the game away.
The Huskers racked up 452 total yards, including 351 through the air for the most passing yards UW had allowed all season. But freshman running back Braelon Allen went wild for 228 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries, including a go-ahead 53-yard scoring run with 3:50 left to play.
Nebraska, which fell to 3-7 overall and 1-7 in Big Ten, tied the game four times before coming up short on the final drive. NU has lost nine of 10 meetings vs. the Badgers since joining the conference, including the past eight in a row.
It took all of 13 seconds for Wisconsin to jump out to the lead, as Stephan Bracey took the opening kickoff off a bounce 91 yards for a touchdown.
Nebraska wasted little time coming back with an answer, as Martinez hit Samori Toure on passes of 42 and 27 yards to set up a one-yard touchdown run by Markese Stepp on its first drive of the day.
Two costly drops ended the Badgers’ first series with a turnover of downs at the NU 33-yard line, but they came right back with a 71-yard touchdown run by Allen to reclaim the lead at 14-7.
A quick three-and-out, short punt, and a personal foul on Wisconsin spotted Nebraska at the Badger 33 in the second quarter. The Huskers didn’t waste that opportunity, as Martinez found Toure on a four-yard touchdown to knot it up at 14-14 with 6:35 left in the half.
Wisconsin then missed a 33-yard Collin Larsh field goal try with 2:43 remaining for a chance to take the lead, leaving it tied going into halftime.
Just like at the start of the game, Wisconsin opened the third quarter with a bang when Collin Wilder intercepted Martinez on the third play of the second half and returned it 40 yards to the NU 33. Graham Mertz turned that into a 17-yard touchdown pass to Kendric Pryor to make it 21-14.
The Huskers again had an answer, though, this time driving 11 plays over five minutes and scoring on a one-yard touchdown run by Martinez with 6:24 left in the third.
Allen responded with his second rushing score of the game on Wisconsin’s next series, capping an eight-play, five-minute drive to take the lead going into the fourth quarter.
A botched fair catch on the ensuing kickoff and a holding penalty spotted the Huskers at their own three-yard line. Five plays later, Martinez threw up a prayer that Wilder picked off for a second time at midfield.
Facing a fourth-and-1 at the NU 31, the Blackshirts stuffed John Chenal on a fullback trap and regained possession with 10:19 still to play. Nebraska then had a fourth-and-2 of its own in Wisconsin territory, and Martinez found Austin Allen for a 38-yard completion to the seven.
Marvin Scott barreled it in from there on a three-yard touchdown run to make it a 28-28 game with 6:27 remaining.
Yet again, the momentum would be short-lived. Wisconsin quickly moved the ball near midfield, and Allen broke free for a 53-yard house call to put the Badgers back up 35-28 with 3:50 on the clock.
Larsh’s following kickoff went out of bounds to start NU at its 35, and the Huskers needed just five plays to march down to the Wisconsin 21 with less than a minute to play.
On fourth-and-20 with just 12 seconds on the clock, Martinez took a shot to Zavier Betts near the goal line that fell incomplete, sealing the win for the Badgers.