Nebraska vs. Wisconsin, 12.1.2012

Nebraska fans Zakarey Hanna and his father, Mark Hanna, watch as the Huskers trailed the Wisconsin Badgers in the second half for the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

ERIC GREGORY/Lincoln Journal Star

INDIANAPOLIS — Where's the team that didn't get the Rose to go?

It seems it's either the Capital One Bowl or the Outback Bowl for the Huskers after Wisconsin demolished them in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday night.

The Capital One Bowl, which the Huskers played in last year against South Carolina, has the first pick of the two bowls and can decide between Nebraska and Northwestern.

Reportedly, Texas A&M will be the SEC team in the bowl in Orlando, Fla. While the Capital One Bowl might favor Nebraska because of its name recognition and the fact it beat Northwestern head-to-head, it will be interesting to see if the lopsided outcome Saturday drops the Huskers in the eyes of bowl representatives.

If the Capital One Bowl passes on the Huskers, NU would then almost assuredly go to the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla. — also against an SEC foe.

Both games are played on New Year's Day.

* Without words: Offensive coordinator Tim Beck said Saturday's train wreck  was hard to explain.

"I feel really bad for the seniors and Coach (Tom) Osborne," Beck said.

After Wisconsin jumped to a big lead, Beck said it was clear Wisconsin's defense — notably talented rush end David Gilbert — was pinning its ears back and coming after Taylor Martinez.

It was a team loss, the assistant coach said.

"It's not Bo's fault," Beck said. "It's everybody. Everybody had their turn in it, myself included. Every coach, every player. We've just got to go out and do a better job."

* A bad slip: Nebraska gave away a touchdown on its first offensive play, when Martinez's pass to Kenny Bell bounced off the receiver's hands and into the arms of Marcus Cromartie, who returned it 29 yards for a score.

"I think he slipped coming out of the cut," Beck said of Bell. "And, unfortunately for us, he got enough of the ball to slow it down and it went right into the guy's hands."

* Breakdowns aplenty: Even on Nebraska's best play — a 76-yard touchdown run by Martinez in the first quarter — the Huskers had breakdowns.

"Even on Taylor's long run ... the reason the guy got pressure, a guy (Husker lineman) went the wrong way," Beck said. "I don't know if it's nerves. I don't know what. But we didn't execute very well early and gave them the ball. That wasn't a good combination."

* Baker's absence: Obviously, one player doesn't make up a 39-point difference.

But the Huskers no doubt could have used senior defensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler, who missed the game because of injury. He had dominated in the first game against Wisconsin.

"Obviously, he was missed, but we thought we'd be fine," said defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski. "Obviously, you miss his leadership and all those things. And maybe when things got out of hand, he would have been more of an anchor for us. But I don't know. Whoever we lined up today, they got the best of us. We just didn't get it done inside."

* Gimmicks: Wisconsin packaged some cleverness in its offensive gameplan.

Most unusual was a play late in the first quarter in which the Badgers lined up all their linemen (save the center) out left beyond the hash mark near the wide receivers.

The Badgers then snapped the ball to quarterback Curt Phillips, who dumped a short pass to Derek Watt, the only player lined up to the right. The play gained 10 yards and helped set up a touchdown to make it 21-10.

In the second quarter, more trickery. This time, Phillips gave a reverse handoff to wide receiver Jared Abbrederis.

Abbrederis took a few steps, stopped, then launched a pass back across the field to ... Phillips. It gained 27 yards to the Husker 1-yard line. One play later it was 28-10.

"When you get momentum, you can throw stuff like that in there," said senior linebacker Will Compton. "We have to have given them a reason to not do that stuff. ... They did them at the right times and they got them."

* Bringing out the big names: Throughout the season, Pelini changes his captains from game to game.

But Saturday, it appeared the coach picked the four players who very likely would have been the permanent captains.

All seniors — Rex Burkhead, Compton, P.J. Smith and Ben Cotton.

* Braxton hears it: Before the game, some of the all-conference selections from other Big Ten schools were honored.

Among them was Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, who torched the Huskers earlier this year and was named the league's offensive player of the year. He was also the league's first-team quarterback ... according to the media. The coaches picked Martinez.

So when Miller was introduced, Nebraska fans gave him the old Bronx cheer.

Miller just smiled and laughed.


News content coordinator

Julie Koch is night editor.

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