Big Red Report's Big Ten Championship Preview

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By: Josh Harvey
November 30th, 2012

Game Headlines:

* Nebraska looks to win the Big Ten title in just their second year in the B1G.

* Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead will return to the starting lineup.

* Nebraska won the previous meeting between the two earlier in the year, 30-27.

* The Huskers are 10-2 on the season and playing a 7-5 Wisconsin squad.




Associated Press Overview:

Wisconsin

Head Coach: Bret Bielema
Wisconsin's record in 2012: 7-5

WHAT'S AT STAKE


Legends Division champion Nebraska, which won the teams' September meeting 30-27, is playing for its first conference title since winning the Big 12 in 1999 and its first BCS bid since playing for the 2001 national championship in the Rose Bowl. Wisconsin gets to play for a third straight Big Ten championship by default because the teams ahead of the Badgers in the Leaders Division, Ohio State and Penn State, are ineligible.

KEY MATCHUP


Wisconsin RB Montee Ball vs. Nebraska defense. The Badgers' 1,500-yard rusher accounts for almost 35 percent of the Badgers' offense. If Ball gets going, QB Curt Phillips will be more effective with play-action passes and Wisconsin will keep Nebraska's high-powered offense on the sideline longer. The Huskers held Ball to 2.8 yards a carry in the first game. But Ball has been on a roll lately, and Nebraska is without defensive line anchor Baker Steinkuhler because of injury.

PLAYERS TO WATCH


Nebraska: RB Rex Burkhead, a 1,300-yard rusher a year ago, returned after a four-game injury layoff to spark the Huskers in the second half against Iowa last week. The Badgers rank second in the Big Ten against the run, but Penn State's Zach Zwinak dented the Badgers for 179 yards last week. The fresh-legged Burkhead coupled with Ameer Abdullah give Nebraska a formidable 1-2 punch.

Wisconsin: Phillips is the Badgers' third starter this season, and the question is how he will respond to the championship-game atmosphere. Phillips has completed just 52 percent of his passes and has been sacked nine times in his three starts. To his credit, he led fourth-quarter comebacks against Ohio State and Penn State, but the Badgers lost those games when he failed to move the offense in overtime.

FACTS & FIGURES


Wisconsin is designated as the home team for the game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. ... The Huskers are in their third conference championship game in four years. They lost Big 12 title games to Texas in 2009 and Oklahoma in 2010. ... Nebraska has won six straight since its 63-38 loss at Ohio State. ... Huskers S Daimion Stafford has interceptions in three straight games and in four of the past five. ... Mark Pelini and Cole Pensick will alternate at center for Nebraska in place of the injured Justin Jackson. ... The Badgers are looking to become the first Big Ten school to play in three straight Rose Bowls since Michigan in 1977-79. ... Wisconsin hasn't lost by more than 10 points in 46 games since a 31-13 loss at Ohio State in 2009. ... Badgers have committed 11 turnovers, tied with Iowa for fewest in the Big Ten.

- Associated Press







Big Red Report Prediction:


Nebraska 31...Wisconsin 24 (Harvey)

*** It's really hard to win a rematch, but Nebraska's close match-up last time out was a result of poor turnovers in the first half. Nebraska knows they have to stop the run, but have been up to the challenge the last few weeks.


Nebraska/Wisconsin 2012 highlights:


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