Wisconsin Football: What’s at stake vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers


On Saturday, the Wisconsin Badgers football team will host the undefeated and No. 7 ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers at Camp Randall, making it their fifth matchup of the season versus a top-ten team, most in the country. Not only is this game featuring two highly ranked teams, but also a lot riding on the outcome.

So what exactly is at stake in Saturday’s matchup?


The Cornhuskers enter the game a perfect 7-0, but have just one win over a ranked opponent, which came back in September when they defeated No. 22 Oregon Ducks at home by three. Since then, the Ducks have been abysmal, underachieving on all levels and currently sitting at 2-5 overall on the season, losers of five straight since their loss at Nebraska. Wisconsin is the first of two straight road matchups against ranked teams, so the Huskers will have a great chance to prove they are as good as their record indicates.

Wisconsin on the other hand will be looking to improve to 6-2 overall on the season and become bowl eligible for the 15th straight season. While the Badgers have greater things in mind than simply just making a bowl game, there’s a relief that comes to both the team and the fans knowing you will be playing in a postseason football contest.

Freedom Trophy

Voted third on the most lame Big Ten rivalry trophies, the Freedom Trophy is fairly new, becoming a part of the Nebraska-Wisconsin rivalry in 2014, a few years after the Cornhuskers had officially joined the Big Ten Conference. Wisconsin currently leads the all-time series 6-4, with their earliest meeting coming way back in 1901.

The Badgers currently are 9.5 point favorites over the visiting Huskers. Wisconsin retained the trophy last season on the road thanks to a Rafael Gaglianone game-winning kick to give them the 23-21 victory. Can the Badgers keep the Freedom Trophy in Madison?


OK, so this one more applies to Nebraska and the fact that Badgers have owned them on the gridiron the last three meetings. In fact, since the Huskers joined the Big Ten in 2011, the Badgers have a 5-1 record, with their only loss coming in Lincoln in 2012 after the Badgers blew a 17-point lead on the road.

Other than last year’s two-point victory, Wisconsin has a margin of victory of 35 points in their three triumphant victories since Nebraska joined the conference.

  • October 1, 2011: No. 7 Wisconsin 48, No. 8 Nebraska 17
  • December 1, 2012: Wisconsin 70, No. 14 Nebraska 31
  • November 15, 2014: No. 22 Wisconsin 59, No. 11 Nebraska 24

Who could forget Nebraska’s first conference trip to Camp Randall in 2011? Or the Big Ten Championship in 2012 when the Badgers dropped 70 points? Or in 2014, when Badgers running back Melvin Gordon rushed for 408 in just over three quarters of action, breaking the NCAA record for most rushing yards in a game?

I am sure Nebraska has not forgotten.

Championship Implications

Both the Badgers and Cornhuskers are very much alive in not only the conference championship race, but the College Football Playoff (CFP) quest as well. Unfortunately for Wisconsin, no two-loss team has ever made the CFP, but the good news is: Wisconsin’s schedule has done nothing but help them out so far. With two wins over top-ten teams and their only two losses coming at the hands of top-five teams, the Badgers could find themselves heavily considered for the Playoffs if they were to win out. Of course this would mean beating Nebraska on Saturday, winning the rest of the regular season games, and then defeating either Michigan or Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship game, both of which handed Wisconsin losses.

Due to scheduling and situational matchups, there is a 40 percent chance a two-loss team could enter the Conference Championship Weekend with a shot to make the CFP.

The first official rankings of the College Football Playoff come out this upcoming Tuesday, November 3. With Wisconsin already having two defeats, a loss to Nebraska will all but eliminate them from Playoff consideration, but a win will have the Badgers right in the thick of things moving forward. For Nebraska, a win solidifies them as a strong candidate to make a run at a playoff berth, while a loss does not eliminate them, but simply means they must win next weekend at Ohio State if they want to stay in contention.

Although a win for the Badgers still does not put them in the driver seat for the Big Ten West crown, fans have to like their chances with Nebraska traveling to Columbus next week. Another division showdown looms for the Badgers next weekend as Wisconsin travels to Evanston to take on the second place Northwestern Wildcats. The Badgers have not won in Evanston since 1999.

No one said it was going to be easy.

Updated Big Ten West Standings

  1. Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-0)
  2. Northwestern Wildcats (3-1)
  3. Iowa Hawkeyes (3-2)
  4. Wisconsin Badgers (2-2)
  5. Minnesota Golden Gophers (2-2)
  6. Purdue Boilermakers (1-3)
  7. Illinois Fighting Illini (1-3)

Nebraska and Wisconsin will kick off at 6:00 pm CT Saturday on ESPN.