REPLAY: Wisconsin 35, Nebraska 28
The Wisconsin Badgers (7-3 overall, 5-2 Big Ten), winners of six straight games, play the Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-7, 1-6) in their final home game of the season at Camp Randall Stadium.
Join blog host JR Radcliffe as be brings you live updates from the press box. Be sure to refresh your browser for the newest.
Wisconsin wins on Senior Day, getting a game-saving stop by the defense in the final seconds. Braelon Allen ran for an astonishing 228 yards and continued to build his legend. Nebraska answered every score but not quite the last one. So many big plays for both sides in this game.
The Badgers hold and are going to survive! (0:04/4th)
Faion Hicks broke up the pass, Keeanu Benton provided the pressure and the Wisconsin Badgers are going to survive. What a wild game. Scott Frost gets an unsportsmanlike penalty in the aftermath -- could have been a pass interference on Hicks maybe? No flag and Wisconsin can clinch the Big Ten West by beating Minnesota next week.
It's fourth down (0:12/4th)
It comes down to this after a third straight incomplete pass by Martinez. Nebraska uses its second timeout. It can still get a first down if it makes it to the 1-yard line, but that's obviously not the target. Wisconsin clinging to its one-score lead.
Nebraska calls its first timeout after a second incomplete pass intended for Toure. Not particularly close, and now Wisconsin knows it's two plays away from victory.
Nebraska just got flagged for holding, so the ball backs up to the Wisconsin 20-yard line. Just 30 seconds to play and still first down.
Leo Chenal pressures Martinez into an incompletion out of bounds. It's 2nd and 20.
Time is running out, but Nebraska is on the Wisconsin 23-yard line. Gotta think the Huskers go for two if they get the score. They have all three timeouts remaining, but they're content to let the clock tick under a minute.
Wisconsin about to be flagged for pass interfernce to give Nebraska a great chance to tie or win this game. Ball at the 11.
Wisconsin kicks it out of bounds, so a bad start (3:50/4th)
Collin Larsh's kick goes out of bounds, so Nebraska gets the ball at its own 35-yard line. Not the start the defense needed to try and seal off this game.
Maybe a time-crunching drive would be good. A home-run rush is better.
Braelon Allen just went 53 yards for a touchdown, eluding a tackle from Myles Farmer well downfield before negotiating the final yards. With Melvin Gordon here to watch, Allen putting up a vintage Wisconsin running-back game.
The true freshman is up to 228 yards on 22 carries. That's a 10.4 average, with three touchdowns.
Can Wisconsin's defense keep the lead?
Braelon Allen just moved the chains with a 4-yard run, and Wisconsin has it on their own 36.
Wisconsin's longest drive today has chewed up 5:23; it'd obviously be ideal if they could go just a little longer than that with a score to cap it off. That's likely going to feature al ot of Allen.
Marvin Scott ran for a 3-yard touchdown to equalize things once again here at Camp Randall Stadium. A long connection yet again with tight end Austin Allen set up the score.
For a while, it looked like Wisconsin had caught a break. A massive 33-yard running play by Nebraska down to the 13-yard line was negated by holding, backing the Huskers back to their own 44 facing 3rd and 14.
But Martinez, who is now the program's all-time offensive yardage leader, then found Austin Allen over the middle at the UW 45 to set up 4th and 2. And he found Allen again for a long heave behind the defense to set up first and goal at the 7-yard line.
Allen now with seven catches for 143 yards.
WISCONSIN 28, NEBRASKA 28
Wisconsin went for it on 4th and 1 on the Nebraska 31-yard line, but fullback John Chenal is stopped for a loss and Nebraska will get a chance to tie this game. Plenty of time remains.
Jake Ferguson caught his seventh pass of the day, now up to 85 yards receiving, but he was short of the marker on a third-down catch. Wisconsin's 28-21 lead remains tenuous.
That's a career-high for receiving yardage in a game by Ferguson and matches his escond-best output for receptions. He had nine against Penn State earlier this year.
Collin Wilder just came down with his second interception of the game; he was the only potential ball-catcher in the area after Martinez uncorked another wild deep ball. The chunk plays were there early for Nebraska, but they haven't been coming as quickly since. The Badgers have the ball at their own 46-yard line looking to finally go up multiple scores. UW leads, 28-21.
Martinez had five interceptions in the last two games (four against Purdue). He's got two more today in 23 throws.
Nebraska has clawed back to a third and 1 situation at the 15-yard line, and that's going to be one of the biggest snaps of the game when it kicks off the third quarter. Badgers bring a 28-21 lead into the final period of play.
Nebraska special-teams miscue backs Nebraska up deep in own territory (0:59/3rd)
Alante Brown signaled fair catch near the goal line on the kickoff but muffed it, leaving Nebraska with possession on the 6-yard line. On top of that, the Huskers committed a holding penalty on first down, so it's now first and 13 on the 3-yard line. UW with a chance to really bury Nebraska here.
Riding a second (and third) effort to elude tacklers, Braelon Allen works his way to the end zone and Wisconsin has once again re-taken the lead.
Allen is up to 153 yard and two scores, but Wisconsin hasn't been able to stop Nebraska from responding today. Here's a big chance.
WISCONSIN 28, NEBRASKA 21
Braelon Allen is up to 150 yards rushing on 15 carries, including a 22-yard that put the Badgers on the Nebraska 10-yard line, but now the Badgers are facing a 3rd and goal on the 3-yard line and had to use their first timeout of the half.
Braelon Allen, who's been battling an ankle or foot injury for some time, just checked out and Julius Davis came on to replace him. Badgers facing 3rd and 3 without their workhorse.
But Mertz finds Kendric Pryor for a chunk play across midfield, a 28-yard gain, and Allen checks back in.
Adrian Martinez's keeper from the 1-yard line crosses the plane and the Huskers just refuse to cede control of this game. It's tied again at 21-all.
Martinez hit Levi Falck for a first down to the Badgers 23-yard line, a gain of 12 yards, then Austin Allen for a 22-yard ball down to the 1-yard line, where he was pushed out of bounds just before the pylon. Martinez, who's up to 237 yards passing and 13 net yards rushing, took it from there.
On 3rd and 6 from the 47-yard line of Wisconsin, Martinez found Allen for seven yards and a first down.
Leo Chenal did come back on the field after missing a few plays, but the UW defense just isn't its normal self today.
WISCONSIN 21, NEBRASKA 21
Uh-oh, Wisconsin star linebacker Leo Chenal is down on the field, possibly with something in his arm or shoulder. That's a very tough loss to navigate if he's done for any length of time. He's walking to the sideline.
Nebraska has a 1st and 10 at its own 49-yard line. Again, moving the ball relatively easily and up to 263 yards of offense. Samori Toure has four catches for 83 yards.
Tatum Grass checking in for Chenal.
Iowa is putting the finishing touches on an expected win over Illinois. There was a scenario where UW won today and both Iowa and Minnesota lost that would shore up a West division title even with a loss next week at Minnesota.
Of course, Wisconsin will want to win the Axe Game regardless. But now it knows it'll have to win unless Iowa loses next week ... at Nebraska.
Minnesota also leading Indiana, 21-7.
What a glorious throw to the end zone by Graham Mertz, who hits Kendric Pryor for a go-ahead touchdown. It's a 17-yard sling and Wisconsin reclaims the lead at 21-14. Braxton Clark was there for Nebraska, but Pryor seemed to body him away from the ball.
Turnover by Wilder quickly turns into points just four plays later. The drive covered 33 yards.
Collin Wilder had an easy interception in center field after Adrian Martinez made a poorly located throw. Nebraska had already gotten to its own 40, but Wilder jumped ahead of a receiver and then raced back 40 yards, putting Wisconsin on the Nebraska 33-yard line. It's the first turnover of the game for either team.
Adrian Martinez didn't play on the final series at quarterback for Nebraska to end the first half, but he's warming up to start the third. Obviously still something to watch, Unclear what the injury issue would be.
Wisconsin is just 1 of 6 on third down in this game, a recurrence of the problem that haunted the Badgers earlier this year. They've converted 1 of 2 on fourth down.
Braelon Allen has 9 carries for 113 yards and a touchdown. His big 71-yard rumble is of course one of the highlights of this game. Stephan Bracey's return of the opening kickoff for a touchdown is the other. Both teams have been cashing in on big plays.
Jake Ferguson has three catches for 42 yards but a costly holding penalty that short-circuited a red-zone opportunity, one that ended with a missed field goal.
Logan Smothers was in at quarterback for that final offensive series, and apparently Adrian Martinez was on the sideline with his helmet off. If he can't play for Nebraska, that's a massive, massive story for this game.
Wisconsin hasn't had many tight games this year; Notre Dame was close in the fourth quarter before things fell apart and Penn State was certainly close to open the year. But UW has been in control since that 1-3 start, and this is the first time they're facing adversity.
The two teams head to the locker room tied at 14.
Nebraska owns the yardage battle, 220-188. Feels like the first team to turn it over today might be in trouble.
Wisconsin's offense goes three-and-out itself, and a Vujnovich punt is fair caught at the UW 10-yard line. Nebraska will get last crack (albeit a long shot) and the kickoff to open the second half.
The UW defense is usually awash in 3-and-outs, but the first one today comes late in the first half. Wisconsin has it near midfield but not much time to work with to try and get the lead before the break.
Wisconsin is missing some opportunities here today.
Collin Larsh just missed a 32-yard field goal, with a bad snap surely complicating the issue. Wisconsin had gotten into the red zone but comes away empty handed.
Referees missed a blatant face mask and called a hold on Jake Ferguson on the same play, making it 1st and 20 on the 22-yard line. Wisconsin clawed back to the 15 before the field goal attempt.
Hello to Julius Davis at least, who ran twice for 22 confident yards on the drive.
The teams are still tied at 14 and Nebraska gets the ball to start the second half.
We're all tied up after Martinez found Toure for a short pass on third down. Wisconsin stacked the box with eight guys, but Martinez was unbothered. The Badgers are going to have to earn this one.
Eight plays, 33 yards, 3:02 on the drive. That Alexander Smith unsportsmanlike penalty put the Badgers defense behind the 8-ball to start, and Nebraska has solved the puzzle of UW's defense overall.
WISCONSIN 14, NEBRASKA 14
Once again, Nebraska has moved the ball with ease, and Wisconsin is once again facing a dire situation. Nebraska just called time out on the 4-yard line, though it's third down after a short run and pass out of the end zone.
Nebraska has 208 total yards (154 through the air), with Wisconsin at 122. Wisconsin entered today with an average of 216.3 yards allowed.
A sack of Graham Mertz by Nebraska's Garrett Nelson sealed a three-and-out deep in its own end, and Andy Vujnovich had to punt from the back of his end zone. He got a fortuitous bounce, but the ball still didn't quite make it back to midfield.
And Alexander Smith gets dinged for unsportsmanlike conduct, so that's another 15 yards. Nebraska will be sitting nicely at the 33 of UW.
That's the first time Mertz has been sacked since the Purdue game. He'd been kept upright for the battles against Iowa, Rutgers and Northwestern and the first quarter today.
Nebraska got stuffed on 3rd and short for a loss, then tried a pass on fourth down from the Wisconsin 6-yard line, but Martinez's pass to the back of the end zone was broken up by Scott Nelson.
I like the aggressiveness for a team that already knows it's not going to a bowl game. I mean, why not? Wisconsin now takes over deep in its own territory, but it keeps the 14-7 lead.
A 34-yard pass to wide open tight end Austin Allen has Wisconsin on its heels a little bit already on the ensuing series, putting the Huskers across midfield. Adrian Martinez and Nebraska have been able to dial up a number of big plays so far to burn UW's trusty defense.
Then, Martinez keeps it on an option play and darts through traffic for a lightning-quick 19 yards down to the 28. He's a very tough matchup for UW. Nebraska will have the ball there with a first down to open the second quarter.
TOUCHDOWN WISCONSIN (1:59/1st)
After a long delay to tend to injured Nebraska defensive end Caleb Tannor, Braelon Allen took the ball on third and 1 and rumbled 71 yards for a touchdown. Yet another big play, and Wisconsin now has the lead.
Cam Taylor-Britt almost caught Allen at the end of the play after missing an initial tackle when he tried using his shoulder instead of wrapping up.
Tannor, by the way, walked slowly off the field after requiring some on-field attention. He tried to tackle Braelon Allen and seemed to get the worst of it.
Allen now has 7 carries and 109 yards already. A monster.
WISCONSIN 14, NEBRASKA 7
Nick Herbig continued his big year with a tackle of Martinez for a 6-yard loss, and that compelled Nebraska to punt from plus territory. The Huskers almost downed the ball near the goal line, but it's a touchback, and Wisconsin is out to its own 20.
It's not officially a sack because Martinez was running, but it's a big tackle-for-loss all the same.
We just haven't seen a team have this level of quick success against Wisconsin's defense this year. But Adrian Martinez marched Nebraska right down the field to the Wisconsin 31 before a snap got deflected by a man in motion and led to the first minus-play of the drive.
That made it 2nd and 15. Martinez's hurried pass (thanks to an approaching Jack Sanborn) to Levi Falck then went incomplete. Now, the Huskers have called timeout, facing 3rd and 15 at the UW 36.
Kendric Pryor straight dropped a ball that was thrown right to him down inside the 5-yard line. Great pass by Graham Mertz, though it looked like Pryor wasn't wholly sure of his footing and it bounced off his chest and out of bounds.
Instead of a first down, Wisconsin wound up facing fourth and 6 from the 33, and a short pass to Brady Schipper was again on target but fell incomplete as he fell to the ground.
John Chenal picked up three yards on an earlier 4th and inches with a patient rush, but it wound up going for naught.
On the bright side, Mertz is once again looking accurate early. But Nebraska has the ball at the Huskers 33-yard line.
The big plays keep coming as Wisconsin reaches midfield (11:37/1st)
Braelon Allen just surged up the middle through a big hole for an 18-yard carry, and Wisconsin has the ball right on the 50. Allen already has 27 yards on his first two carries.
Feels like we're in for a wild day right now. Nebraska loves big plays and Wisconsin is stingy against them (and all plays, really). Will be fascinating to see if Wisconsin adjusts swiftly, and if they can keep the pressure on with their offense.
Nebraska TOUCHDOWN (12:41/1st)
Wow, not sure anyone could have seen this coming, but we're nearly tied and there's still 12:41 on the first-quarter clock.
Markese Stepp just kept his legs churning on an 8-yard run, ruled a touchdown but ultimately overturned on review, down at the 1-yard line. So he took it again and scored on the next snap.
Toure was open again for a 27-yard catch preceding the score. He now has two catches for a ridiculous 69 yards. And again, did I mention, it's barely two minutes into the game?
First time in a while that Wisconsin's defense has been sliced up like that. Maybe the new offensive coaches have some ideas for Nebraska.
That's a five-play drive that traveled 74 yards. Sixty-nine yards came through the air to Toure.
Nebraska airs it out on first down for a 42-yard gain (13:47/1st)
Is it just going to be this kind of game?
Samori Toure caught a 42-yard heave from Adrian Martinez and the Huskers are already cooking at the Wisconsin 30-yard line, though they just got flagged on second down for a motion penalty.
Hold on to your butts today.
Stephan Bracey returns opening kickoff for touchdown! (14:47/1st)
Holy smokes, what a start!
Stephan Bracey, in his first game healthy this season, picked up a bouncing kickoff and then ran it back for a TOUCHDOWN. It may not have been the sonic boom of David Gilreath, but that's a heck of a way to start a contest. It's a 91-yard run to the house.
WISCONSIN 7, NEBRASKA 0
Nebraska wins the toss and defers to second half
Wisconsin will get the ball first and defend the south end zone after Nebraska won the toss. Melvin Gordon sporting a flannel instead of a No. 408 jersey, but I guess his presence is message enough.
Seniors getting pregame recognition
This game won't start strictly on time (no surprise) as seniors are getting acknowledged one-by-one before the game, running up a tunnel of Wisconsin marching band members.
One of them is Tyler Mais; a nice day for the Mais family to watch younger brother Drew win a state title with Waunakee in this building yesterday followed by Senior Day festivities today.
Crowd will be late to arrive
Just like last week, Camp Randall Stadium is not going to be full at kickoff. It had been reported this week that tickets were fairly easy and cheap to come by. With less than 20 minutes before kickoff, here's the scene (for those who get concerned about such things).
Last week's game got pretty full by the end of the first quarter.
Jackson Acker sidelined in the latest hit to running-back room
Jackson Acker, a freshman who essentially is the fourth running back but certainly in the mix for some carries, is in a boot and not in uniform.
That means the running back rotation is essentially down to Braelon Allen, Brady Schipper and Julius Davis. Presumably Grover Bortolotti, who got some carries against Rutgers, is next.
I made a mistake earlier posting a status report from last week, the new one is out, and there are a couple other surprises.
Jordan Turner, who notched his second interception of the year last week, is also out today, as is defensive end Rodas Johnson, a promising up-and-coming talent on the defense. They join receiver A.J. Abbott, Acker, linebacker Spencer Lytle and tight end Hayden Rucci on the sideline.
Linebacker Mike Maskalunas, a sixth-year senior who has been out several weeks, is in uniform for Senior Day.
Interesting: Stephan Bracey in uniform today
As Zach Heilprin notes, Stephan Bracey is in uniform for the Badgers today for the first time this year. Perhaps he gets a chance to get in a game and assist in the return game?
Second day in a row at Camp Randall press box
Covered the WIAA state football championships yesterday in the very same press box and saw future Badgers quarterback Myles Burkett set the new Division 1 single-game passing record for a state title game (by one yard) as he led Franklin to the Division 1 title. It's the school's first crown in 15 years.
One of the guys he was dealing with with Sun Prairie pass rusher Isaac Hamm, the state's defensive player of the year and a Badgers recruit. Hamm was great despite a club on his hand, but Franklin had too much firepower.
Burkett's 89-yard touchdown pass is the best in any state final, regardless of division.
In Division 2, the younger brother of current Badgers player Tyler Mais had an interception for Waunakee, which went on to beat Homestead for the crown.
Seniors will be honored today
The list of seniors who will be honored for Senior Day festivities include:
DE Michael Balistreri, OL Tyler Beach, OL Logan Bruss, OLB Noah Burks, FB John Chenal, WR Danny Davis, WR Jack Dunn, TE Jake Ferguson, OLB Izayah Green-Bay, CB Deron Harrell, DE Matt Henningsen, CB Faion Hicks, S Tyler Mais, ILB Mike Maskalunas, S Scott Nelson, WR Kendric Pryor, ILB Jack Sanborn, OL Josh Seltzner, P Connor Schlichting, OL Blake Smithback, QB Danny Vanden Boom, S Collin Wilder, DE Bryson Williams and CB Caesar Williams.
Weird times for senior days with the extra year allowed to those who played in 2020. Faion Hicks, for example, is among those who might come back next year.
Others with the right to return are Nelson, Beach, Bruss, Ferguson, Chenal and Bryson Williams.
Of COURSE Melvin Gordon is honorary captain
Melvin Gordon, who ran for 408 yards in just three quarters against Nebraska in 2014, is today's honorary captain. If you paid attention to the NFL schedule and knew his Denver Broncos had a bye this week, you probably saw this coming from a mile away.
Gordon won the Doak Walker Award at Wisconsin for the nation's best running back that year and took second in the Heisman Trophy voting. He made a Pro Bowl with the Chargers in 2017 and is in his seventh pro season, second at Denver.