Wisconsin 15, Nebraska 14: 2-minute drill

Wisconsin’s Graham Mertz scored on a quarterback sneak in the final minute to help the Badgers overcame an 11-point, four-quarter deficit to beat Nebraska 15-14 on Saturday to become bowl eligible for a 21st straight season.

Game Balls


RBs Chez Mellusi and Isaac Guerendo

Braelon Allen deserves credit for gutting out another nice day on the ground (92 yards) despite shoulder and ankle injuries, but the contributions of Mellusi and Guerendo were also very notable.

Mellusi, playing for the first time since suffering a broken wrist in early October, ran for 98 yards on 21 carries. He routinely put his head down and fought through tackles for extra yardage. Six of his carries resulted in a first down, while his final run of the day, a 5-yard dash to the 1-yard line, set up Wisconsin’s go-ahead touchdown in the final minute.

Guerendo chipped in 42 yards on the ground but made his biggest impact in the passing game with one catch. It was a 27-yard diving grab from quarterback Graham Mertz that left Wisconsin inside the Nebraska 10-yard line in the last minutes of the game.


NT Keeanu Benton

It’s becoming a bit repetitive, but Benton played most of the afternoon in Nebraska’s backfield. The Huskers struggled to rush it up the middle against Wisconsin and the senior was a big reason why. He had four tackles, two tackles for loss and also got to quarterback Casey Thompson. He was part of a Wisconsin defensive effort that limited the Cornhuskers to just 65 yards rushing on the day.

What They Said

Interim coach Jim Leonhard asked what he learned about himself and the program since taking over:

“We have a lot of great players in that locker room. We have a lot of people that care. I think we got a little complacent. I’ve tried to shake that up and continue to push. To see the way the players respond, gives me confidence I can get this done long term.”

Best Video

Best Tweets

Never a doubt for the Badgers

A rollercoaster of emotions

Alums love the win

In Case You Missed It

— Cornerback Justin Clark went down late in the first quarter with a left leg injury and did not return.

— Linebacker Nick Herbig was tossed from the game in the third quarter after being called for targeting on Nebraska quarterback Casey Thompson. He was later ejected from the game and forced to go to the Wisconsin locker room after coming on to the field to celebrate a fourth quarter touchdown. Due to the targeting happening in the second half, Herbig will miss the first half of the Minnesota game, assuming the targeting call isn’t overturned on appeal.

— There was talk on the Wisconsin sideline about potentially going away from quarterback Graham Mertz in the second half. The junior started off rough, throwing another interception that set Nebraska up for a short touchdown drive in the second quarter. Leonhard said afterwards that he spoke with offensive coordinator Bobby Engram just to see where he thought Mertz was and they decided to stick with him.

— Allen is working through several injuries but especially a shoulder issue that was clearly bothering him Saturday. Normally a guy that initiates contact with defenders, Allen has been trying to avoid it for weeks now. Leonhard said the injury probably won’t get any better until after the season and they have to be smart about his workload. The return of Mellusi helps that significantly.

— The Badgers had decals on their helmets with the letters DC on them. It was in honor of former Wisconsin wide receiver Devin Chandler, who was one of three Virginia football players shot and killed last Sunday.

— The wind was a major factor for both offenses. All four touchdowns scored in the game came going into the south end zone. Wisconsin attempted to kick a field goal into the north side and Nate Van Zelst’s 39-yard boot came up short.

— Wisconsin erased a 14-3 deficit in the fourth quarter. It was the Badgers first fourth-quarter comeback win since overcoming a 14-point deficit to beat Purdue in 2018.

Inside the Numbers

2012 – That is the last time Nebraska beat Wisconsin. The Badgers have won the last nine meetings, including all eight since the introduction of the Freedom Trophy in 2014.

235 – That is how many yards rushing Wisconsin had. It’s the 10th time in the last 11 games the Badgers have rushed for at least 200 yards against Nebraska.

18 – That is how many games Wisconsin has won when throwing for fewer than 100 yards since 2000. It’s the second one in the last three weeks.

119 – That is how many yards Wisconsin had in the fourth quarter, which also included its two touchdown drives. Nebraska managed just 25 yards in the final period.

171 — That is how many yards Nebraska’s offense had. It means the Badgers have kept the opposition under 200 yards in three straight games.

21 – That is how many straight years Wisconsin has been bowl eligible after hitting the six-win mark Saturday. It is the third-longest streak in the country.

4-2 – That is Wisconsin’s record since Jim Leonhard was named interim coach. Players after the game mentioned the importance of winning to give him the best chance to get the full-time job.

What’s Next

Wisconsin (6-5, 4-4) will host Minnesota (7-3, 4-3) in the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe next Saturday.