Oct 22, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Jim Leonhard reacts to a call during the fourth quarter against the Purdue Boilermakers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers game recap: Everything we know

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers game recap: Everything we know

Despite trailing until the final 35 seconds of the game, Interim head coach Jim Leonhard and the Wisconsin Badgers (6-5, 4-4 Big Ten) went on the road in a must-win contest and defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers 15-14, keeping the Freedom Trophy in the only home its ever known – in Madison.

UW has now won nine straight meetings against Nebraska and, with today’s win, is now bowl eligible for the 21st consecutive season – extending the nation’s third-longest active bowl streak.

The Badger’s defense came to play yet again, allowing only 171 total yards of offense (106 passing, 65 rushing) on 3.5 yards per play – making it the first time in over 20 years UW’s defense has allowed under 200 yards of total offense in three consecutive games.

To say they’ve figured things out would be an understatement.

Wisconsin’s offense did just enough on Saturday, scoring two touchdowns in the final 10 minutes to give the Badgers their first fourth-quarter comeback win since 2018.

Here’s a recap of Wisconsin’s road victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers:

Key to the game: Wisconsin leaned on the run game

Nov 20, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) hands the football off to running back Braelon Allen (0) during the first quarter against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

On a day when quarterback Graham Mertz simply didn’t have it, UW leaned on the hogs up front to open up running lanes and wear down the Cornhusker’s defensive line.

In doing so, Wisconsin finished with 239 yards on the ground on 52 carries split between their top three backs, winning the time-of-possession battle by nearly 14 minutes.

The return of Chez Mellusi made all the difference on Saturday, carrying the ball 21 times for 98 yards and allowing UW to spell Braleon Allen, who is clearly playing hurt. Senior running back Isaac Guerendo also earned carries and made arguably the biggest play of the game…but we’ll get to that.

It was over when…

On UW’s final drive of the game, with 1:35 to play, Graham Mertz moved outside the pocket and made a beautiful throw across his body to Isaac Guerendo for a 27-yard gain that set up a 1st and goal from the Nebraska seven-yard line.

Three plays later, Jim Leonhard dialed up a QB sneak on third and goal from the two-yard line that caught Nebraksa off-guard and ended up being the proverbial dagger.

Game balls

OLB C.J. Goetz: There aren’t many players who’ve had a better month and a half for Wisconsin than C.J. Goetz. Against Nebraska, he continued wreaking havoc, registering seven tackles, 2.5 TFL, and a pass breakup.

NT Keeanu Benton: Although he’s been knicked up for the better part of the season, I thought Keeanu Benton was a force against the Cornhuskers – finishing the game with four tackles, 2 TFLs, and a sack. When UW’s star nose tackle dominates, so does the Badger’s defense.

RB Chez Mellusi: Despite missing the past six games, Chez Mellusi picked up right where he left off, carrying the ball 21 times for 98 yards and running with some intention. Come to think of it, I can’t remember a single run where he didn’t fall forward. He will play a significant role next week against Minnesota – it was great to get him back.

What’s next

The Wisconsin Badgers (6-5) return home next weekend, playing PJ Fleck and the Minnesota Golden Gophers (7-4) for the Axe at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday, November 26.

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