Badgers, No. 14 Huskers know all about close games

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 26, 2012
The courses for the Big Ten championship game opponents were set when they met in late September. Nebraska came back from a 17-point, third-quarter deficit to beat Wisconsin 30-27 in the conference opener. The 14th-ranked Cornhuskers continued to win close games. The Badgers kept losing them. Another tight game is expected when Nebraska (10-2, 7-1 Big Ten) and Wisconsin (7-5, 4-4) get together again Saturday night in Indianapolis. The winner goes to the Rose Bowl to play Stanford or UCLA. Wisconsin, trying for a third straight trip to Pasadena, is coming off overtime losses in three of its past four games. The Badgers finished third in the Leaders Division but go to the championship game because of NCAA sanctions against Ohio State and Penn State. Four of the Badgers' losses this season have been by three points and the other by seven. ''You hate to go down that way, but you like to see the fight that we've had,'' linebacker Chris Borland said Monday. ''I think as far as the reason for the close losses - I think we've done things well, and maybe haven't executed in the clutch like we could. All the things you need to win are there. It's just a matter of sealing the deal, which I think we've gotten better at despite it not showing in the games.'' Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said Wisconsin has proved to be dangerous and could easily have a better record. ''I don't put any stock into anything that's happened up to this point,'' Pelini said. ''It's going to be 60 minutes of football, and the team that earns it on Saturday is going to come away with the win. It's going to be a tough game, no question.'' Wisconsin led or was tied going into the fourth quarter in three of its losses. Since the 2010 Rose Bowl, Wisconsin has lost nine games by a touchdown or less. Badgers coach Bret Bielema said his team has struggled late in games because several key players have been missing or limited. He said Monday his team needed to capitalize on opportunities. A little luck might have helped, too. ''I do think there's a certain amount of, does the ball bounce the right way?'' Bielema said. ''Do you get a call? Do you not get a call? I got done with the Ohio State game and was very, very upset with the way things unfolded in overtime. You need a break here or there. I do think good things happen to good people - not that people that we've been playing aren't good people. I want to make sure our guys understand that perseverance will prevail.'' Running back Montee Ball said he could have done more to help. Ball fumbled late in the fourth quarter against Ohio State when he attempted to jump over a pile to extend the ball on the goal line on a fourth-and-1 play when the Badgers trailed 14-7. ''A couple times we had penalties where we started behind the chains and that really hurt us,'' Ball said. ''A couple plays that, myself, I could have done better on, probably could have done better on. And the same for every other player. ''I guess what the team will learn for next year and from (the Penn State loss) and our bowl game is that every play matters. You never know if the first play is going to decide the game or the last play. You've got to approach every play like it's the deciding factor of the game.'' Nebraska came from behind in the second half to post five of its seven Big Ten wins. The Huskers made up double-digit deficits in four of those games on their way to the Legends Division title. While the Badgers struggled to finish, the Huskers closed strong. In the seven Big Ten wins, the Huskers outgained their opponent 112-47 in the fourth quarter. The Huskers outgained Wisconsin 113-33 the final 15 minutes of their Sept. 29 meeting. ''It was definitely a good start for the comebacks we had down the road this year,'' Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead said. ''It helped us out in some tight games with Northwestern, Michigan State, Penn State and Iowa.'' Pelini struggled to explain why Nebraska has come out on the right side of the close games this year. He said team chemistry and experience help, and so does having a third-year starting quarterback in Taylor Martinez. Pelini said another ingredient - the one Bielema wishes his team had more of - played a role, too. ''Let's face it,'' Pelini said, ''there is some luck involved.'' --- AP Sports Writer Eric Olson in Lincoln, Neb., contributed to this report.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Adrian Peterson says he is open to Vikings return, will explore other options

Report: Judge ‘pleased with progress’ of Johnny Manziel

NFL players react to Mark Ingram, Saints being turned away from London club

Draymond Green: 76ers are going to be ‘really, really, really good’

Bill Polian wouldn't put Terrell Owens or Randy Moss in Hall Of Fame

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Free agent wide receivers want to play with Carson Wentz

NFL has plans to put microchips in footballs in 2017

A San Diego storm has turned Petco Park into a lake

Top eight storylines for NFL Scouting Combine

Mike D’Antoni calls out Rockets for being ‘soft’ again

WATCH: Dwight Howard ejected for hanging on rim

Box Score 2/28: Fat Tuesday means athletes on floats.

It's time for Satchel Paige Day in Major League Baseball

The best sports movies available to stream right now

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

Biggest surprises and disappointments of the NBA season

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Box Score 2/24: A night of NBA disrespect

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

It's time for Satchel Paige Day in MLB

The best sports movies available to stream right now

Biggest surprises and disappointments of the NBA season

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher to win 20 or more games in a season since 2000

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker