Nebraska receiver Jamal Turner caught five passes for 63 yards in the Big Ten championship game to continue his strong finish to the season. The sophomore would have been credited with 23 yards more and a touchdown, but part of a 55-yard scoring play in the third quarter was erased by an unnecessary roughness penalty on Kenny Bell.
Turner has caught 15 passes for 205 yards in NU's last five games, including the go-ahead TDs against Michigan State and Penn State.
Quincy Enunwa also caught five passes against Wisconsin and is the only Husker with at least one reception in every game this season. Bell caught only two passes for 14 yards Saturday night, but pushed his season total to 803 yards to become the fourth NU receiver with 800 yards in a season. The first three were Johnny Rodgers (942 yards in 1972, 872 in '71), Nate Swift (941 in 2008) and Maurice Purify (814 in 2007).
Running back has a Ball in title game
Wisconsin tailback Montee Ball took the first handoff of the game Saturday night, cut back to his left and picked up 7 yards before Andrew Green pulled him down. Little did Nebraska fans know that would only be a sign of things to come for the Wisconsin senior.
In rushing for 202 yards, Ball picked up 5 yards or more on 13 of 21 attempts, including a stretch where he did it on 11 of 12 carries.
Ball also rushed for three touchdowns, giving him 10 in three career games against Nebraska and padding his NCAA-record total to 82.
“Hopefully this performance propels him to the top of the Doak Walker (Award voting), because he's a guy that deserves it in every way,” Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said.
No happy returns once again for NU
Nebraska was ineffective in its return game again Saturday night, having kickoff returns of just 29 and 23 yards and losing 1 yard on its only punt return.
In the last seven games, NU is averaging just 1.7 yards per punt return (with only one longer than 5 yards) and 19.1 per kick return (just one longer than 26 yards).
Badger offensive line impresses Rome
A well-organized and cohesive Wisconsin offensive line made it difficult for the Huskers up front, NU sophomore defensive tackle Chase Rome said after Saturday's game.
With senior defensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler out with a knee injury, Rome said he played “pretty much the whole game.” And he came away impressed with the Badgers' O-line.
“They work well together. That's one thing they do better than other teams we've played,” Rome said. “Their timing. It's something that's hard to explain unless you're lined up across from them.”
Rome finished the game with one assisted tackle. Film review will reveal an accurate assessment of his performance, Rome said.
“I had my mistakes like every one else,” he said.
No early work for NU on Indianapolis field
Nebraska's players dismissed the notion that seeing Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time Saturday influenced their on-field performance against Wisconsin.
The day before a game is when the Huskers typically conduct a final walk-through for the week. And they do it on their own campus, whether they're playing at home or traveling to an out-of-town venue. That was again the routine last week.
The Huskers arrived at Lucas Oil for the first time Saturday. But the players had more than enough time to get acclimated, senior tight end Kyler Reed said. According to Reed and senior safety P.J. Smith, the pregame schedule wasn't any different from any other week, and it had little impact on the 70-31 final score.
“We did the walk-through before we left Friday, like we usually do,” Reed said. “We haven't had a late game for a while. But we've played in them before. So it was a typical thing. We saw a movie. It was normal, actually. Very normal. I don't think that really had anything to do with it.”
Wisconsin did run a short no-pads rehearsal inside Lucas Oil Friday. The Badgers won a league title in the same stadium last season as well.
— Jon Nyatawa and Rich Kaipust