Nebraska football lost its fourth game in a row, this time falling 37-21 to Wisconsin. The Badgers’ ground game led them to a win yet again, but the Huskers still competed throughout.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Wisconsin’s run dominance against Nebraska is here to stay
Wisconsin’s offense did exactly what it was expected to do and what it has done for the past eight years: run all over Nebraska’s defense.
Junior running back Jonathan Taylor had over 200 yards against the Huskers in 2017 and 2018, and he did the same thing in this matchup, racking up 204 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. Over the last three years, Taylor has averaged 9.1 yards per carry against Nebraska and his dominance continued in this matchup.
The rest of the Badgers also dominated as well on the ground, as the only player to not average at least 4.5 yards per carry for Wisconsin was junior fullback Mason Stokke, who finished with two rushes for seven yards.
Every year since joining the Big Ten, no matter the personnel, Nebraska has been ripped apart by the Badger ground game. Nebraska is now 1-8 against Wisconsin since joining the conference, and the Blackshirts held the Badgers under 100 rushing yards as a team in that one win.
Admittedly, there’s not a whole lot you can do when Wisconsin consistently has NFL-caliber running backs and offensive linemen, but the reason Nebraska has never been able to claim the Freedom Trophy is Wisconsin’s flat-out dominance on the ground.
Dedrick Mills proved he can make an impact
Junior running back Dedrick Mills had been inconsistent up until this point this season, as he had both solid performances and games where he was a non-factor.
In recent games, Mills would disappear for stretches of the game and not get many snaps. Against Indiana and Purdue, Mills had a combined 14 carries for 48 yards.
Mills had more of an opportunity to shine today with freshman Wan’Dale Robinson out, and he delivered.
Against the No. 5 run defense in the country, he racked up 188 rushing yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Mills’ performance throughout the game kept the Huskers within striking distance.
With Robinson hurt, sophomore running back Maurice Washington currently away from the team and freshman Rahmir Johnson only being able to play in one more game without burning his redshirt, the Huskers needed a big performance from the running back position.
Mills delivered that, and the Husker offense will become even more dangerous if he can find some type of consistency moving forward.
Missed opportunities sink Nebraska once again
Nebraska football lost three games this year that finished within one score, and all three could’ve ended differently if the Huskers took advantage of their biggest opportunities.
Against Colorado, the Huskers forced and recovered a fumble in Buffalo territory on a kickoff return with 5:35 left in the game and a seven-point lead. Instead of going on to ice the game, they received a 15-yard penalty on the same play and went three-and-out, setting up a game-tying drive from Colorado.
While down just one score to Indiana, senior receiver Kanawai Noa lost a fumble, halting a potential game-tying drive for Nebraska in the fourth quarter. Later in the quarter, down a touchdown, the Huskers failed to convert on fourth down in Indiana territory and allowed the Hoosiers to convert on third and long on their final drive to seal the game.
Two weeks ago against Purdue, Nebraska entered Purdue territory on six drives in the first half, yet only came away with 10 points. This included a drive where the Huskers started at the Boilermaker 2-yard line and were forced to settle for a field goal.
The story was the same in the loss to Wisconsin. While the Badgers came into the matchup as the superior team, Nebraska blew nearly every big opportunity it had. The Huskers got past Wisconsin’s 40-yard line on eight occasions, coming away with three touchdowns and no field goals. Three of those drives ended in a turnover on downs, while another ended in a missed field goal.
Nebraska still might not have won this game had it converted some of those chances, but it took away any chance it had by falling flat in the biggest moments. For the Huskers to become bowl eligible, they’ll have to take advantage of those chances against Maryland and Iowa.