By Frank LaCosta

In keeping with tradition this year’s Rose Bowl game will be represented by the conference winners of the PAC-12 and Big Ten. Unlike tradition the Big Ten’s Leader’s Division will be represented by the third best team in the division. Both Ohio State and Penn State are prohibited to play in this year’s conference title game due to NCAA sanctions. Therefore by default Wisconsin has a huge opportunity in front of them when they face Nebraska from the Legends division on Saturday. The Rose Bowl is at stake and with a rematch taking place at a neutral site the result of the regular season meeting won’t impact this one.

The Badgers are the two-time defending Big Ten champions and won last year’s inaugural conference title game against Michigan State. They have experience in big game situations and they have a one-man wrecking crew in running back Montee Ball. Expect the Badgers to place a heavy emphasis on the running game since they have lost both their starting and back-up QBs. Senior Curt Phillips will be the signal caller but doesn’t have much time in the saddle and certainly doesn’t possess any running skills. He’ll play it safe in a simpler offense by looking to dump the ball off to TE Jacob Pedersen and the occasional deep ball to WR Jared Abbrederis. The defense knows in its last three losses (all in OT) that giving an all out effort is needed.

The Cornhuskers are no strangers to conference title games either. They played in a few while in the Big 12 with two of them being memorable losses to the Texas Longhorns. They’ll be looking for a signature win in their second year in the Big Ten Conference. QB Taylor Martinez is the difference maker on offense. He keeps defenses off balance with his ability to run as well as pass effectively. Expect “thunder and lightning” from RBs Rex Burkhead and Ameer Abdullah respectively. WR Kenny Bell looks to get back on track as the favorite target of Martinez. The “Blackshirts” will crowd the box to stop Ball and leave their secondary in one-on-one situations daring Badger QB Phillips to beat them.

Game Info:


SAT. DEC. 1 – 7:17PM / FOX



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