Well that blew. For almost three quarters, Nebraska looked like it belonged on the field with a top 10 team. And then for one quarter, it was a flashback to several beatings the Badgers have handed out since the Huskers have been in the Big 10. The teams have met 7 times in Big 10 play. Wisconsin has won 4 of them by 21 points or more.
Is it the coaching staffs? Tough to say. Pelini got housed 3 of those times, including one to a five-loss Wisconsin team in the conference title game. Riley ate that defeat pizza for the first time on Saturday. On the other side, Wisconsin has had three coaches dole out that domination: Bret Bielema, Gary Andersen, and now Paul Chryst. Despite changing faces, the results tend to stay the same. Wisconsin either destroys Nebraska or it ends up being a barn burner.
So what is it that allows Wisconsin to thump the Huskers most of the time? Institutional inertia, consistency of system, player development, take your pick. When you watch Wisconsin play, you see a ruthless efficiency on both sides of the ball forged over years of running similar systems on both sides of the ball. Paul Chryst has called his offense in Madison 10 out of the last 13 years. On the other side, they’ve been running the 3-4 since 2013, when Dave Aranda took over, and they had two elite defensive coordinators running 4-3s before that. Everything is meticulously recruited to fit both systems, and players know exactly how they’re supposed to do things on any given play. Add it up and you get a Wisconsin team that frequently punches above its recruiting weight. Very few missed steps and communication breakdowns, everyone working together to achieve the unit’s goal.
That’s what we saw on Saturday night, and unfortunately it’s all too common these days in the Huskers-Badgers match up. In any event, let’s take a quick recap of some things that stood out to me.