Nebraska football writer Parker Gabriel offers his extra points from Nebraska's 41-24 road loss at Wisconsin on Saturday night.
Turning point: A sequence late in the first half turned the game’s tide. Nebraska missed on a fourth-and-11 from the UW 37 with just about two minutes left. If the Huskers convert, they maybe score and cut into a 13-3 lead. Instead, Wisconsin punched in a touchdown for a 20-3 lead. That made a 75-yard touchdown to JD Spielman to open the second half survivable for the Badgers instead of making it a real nail-biter in the second half.
It was over when: Jonathan Taylor ripped through the middle of the NU defense for an 88-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. That extended Wisconsin’s lead to 41-17 and left any chance of a Husker comeback in the dust.
Quotable: Nebraska freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez, who finished 24-of-42 passing for 384 yards and two touchdowns.
“I have some great receivers around me, I really do. Stanley Morgan, obviously, he’s always there for me. JD (Spielman) is great in the slot. I’m fortunate and I trust those guys throwing the ball. They’re going to go up and get it for me. They’re going to make the tough catches. Obviously, you guys saw that today.”
Game ball: Taylor. The Wisconsin running back rushed for 221 and three touchdowns and put the game away in the second half. In two career games against Nebraska, he has 468 yards rushing. If his Heisman Trophy candidacy had gotten off to a slow start despite averaging nearly 160 yards per game over UW’s first four games, it’s certainly back on track now.
Game ball: Spielman. This could easily go to Martinez — he certainly deserves to be recognized and he continues to look like he’s going to be a force in the Big Ten for years to come — but it’s easy to gloss over the numbers Spielman is putting up in his second collegiate season.
The Eden Prairie, Minnesota, native set the single-game receiving record last year with 200 against Ohio State and moved the bar up Saturday against UW with 209.
Through five games, Spielman has 32 catches for 461 yards and five touchdowns. He might well become NU’s first 1,000-yard receiver this fall.
Notable performance: Maurice Washington had 80 offensive yards, including four catches for 53. The freshman running back is still learning the college game and has had virtually no time in a college weight room, but he’s a unique talent. Look for the Huskers to get him more involved in the passing game as the season progresses.
Deep connection: Spielman ran a double-move to the middle of the field against one-on-one coverage from safety Scott Nelson, who was later ejected for targeting. Spielman had a step on the talented, rangy defensive back as it was, and then Nelson fell down as the sophomore receiver ran by. Seventy-five yards later, the Huskers had an electrifying score to begin the second half.
Numbers for the road
3: Games out of five the Huskers have eclipsed 500 total yards of offense, including 518 against Wisconsin.
11.7: Average margin of defeat for Nebraska in those three games against Colorado, Purdue and the Badgers.
22: Average net punt on Caleb Lightbourn’s first two attempts Saturday night.
441: Total yards of offense for Martinez, the fourth-best total in school history.
0: Times in school history the Huskers have started 0-6. That’ll be on the line next week at Northwestern.
25: Percent on third and fourth downs for the Huskers at 3-of-12.
53.8: Wisconsin’s percentage on third and fourth downs at 7-of-13.
11:06: Advantage in time of possession for the Badgers, who ran 72 plays to Nebraska’s 68.
5: Carries for 29 yards for senior running back Devine Ozigbo, who was the primary back last weekend against Purdue.