Fans had to wait a little longer than normal Saturday as they attempted to enter Camp Randall Stadium for the University of Wisconsin’s football game against Army.
UW’s athletic department tweeted two hours before the game that “unforeseen circumstances specific to this game” created a situation in which not all the entry gates were fully staffed and fans were asked to arrive early.
A UW spokesperson said the department learned this afternoon that it wouldn’t have its typical staffing from its game day security and entry service, CSC USA. UW’s internal staff is being used to mitigate the issue, but not all entry lines would be open at each gate. The athletic department does not expect the issue to occur again.
Lack of staffing has been an issue for the concession stands at Camp Randall early in the season, and the switch to mobile ticketing caused some delays at the season opener in September.
Wisconsin vs. Army football: 3 keys to victory, who should get the carries for the Badgers and predictions
WHO HAS THE EDGE
When the Badgers have the ball
Freshman running back Braelon Allen showed he was ready for lead-back responsibilities last week with his 173-yard, three-touchdown performance against Northwestern. The Wildcats’ defense was one of the worst in the country at stopping the run, but Allen has a stiffer test coming against Nebraska. The Cornhuskers rank 39th in the FBS and seventh in the Big Ten allowing 132.5 yards rushing per game.
Nebraska will be playing its first game of the season without linebacker JoJo Domann, who’s out for the season with a hand injury. Domann was third on the team in tackles with 72 and had nine tackles for loss, including three sacks. He also had two picks and two forced fumbles. Linebackers Luke Reimer (96 tackles), Nick Henrich (87 tackles) and Garrett Nelson (45 tackles, 10½ for loss) will be tasked with slowing down Allen.
UW quarterback Graham Mertz and the passing game have found a rhythm in the past three weeks, adding balance to the offense and improving the team’s ability to convert third downs. UW has converted 46.2% of third downs the past three games and 28.4% the rest of the season. If Mertz can continue moving the chains and avoiding turnovers, UW’s offense should be in good shape against Nebraska’s pass defense, which ranks ninth in the Big Ten (230.6 yards per game allowed).
When Nebraska has the ball
Nebraska’s offense starts and stops with quarterback Adrian Martinez. When he’s good, the Cornhuskers are tough to stop because he can challenge the defense deep with his arm while also taking advantage of space underneath by scrambling. Martinez is Nebraska’s leading rusher (50.2 yards per game) and passer (251.2 ypg) this season.
However, when he’s bad, it often means turnovers and big plays the other way. Martinez has thrown eight interceptions and has lost three of his seven fumbles this season. Martinez has had success against UW before, averaging 375 total yards of offense and 2.5 total touchdowns in two matchups.
UW defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard said the 2019 game against Nebraska opened his eyes to some adjustments the Badgers needed on defense, and he said he believes the group is better-equipped to contain Martinez this season.
Samori Toure, a transfer from Montana, leads Nebraska in every receiving category (33 catches, 718 yards, four TDs). UW was also in pursuit of Toure on the transfer market. Running back has been a weak spot, with Rahmir Johnson leading that group with 495 yards on 112 carries. Tight end Austin Allen (29 catches, 404 yards, two TDs) is a difficult matchup on size alone — the junior is 6 foot 9 and 255 pounds.
The Badgers have been creating turnovers at a high rate during their win streak. Their 17 takeaways are the most of any Power Five team over that six-game span.
Nebraska’s field-goal kicking has been a consistent weakness this season, and coach Scott Frost said Monday there wasn’t much he could do to ensure his kickers are ready psychologically to perform. Connor Culp (6 of 12) and Chase Contreraz (2 of 4) are a combined 6 for 11 on field goals under 40 yards.
The Cornhuskers, like the Badgers, haven’t produced much in the return games.
UW’s Andy Vujnovich is fifth in the Big Ten with an average punt of 45.4 yards and 11 of his 42 punts this year have gone for 50-plus this season.
Edge: Slightly Wisconsin
UW’s six-game winning streak is tied for second-longest under coach Paul Chryst. He is 5-0 against Nebraska since becoming UW’s coach, with the average score in those games being 32.4-20.
Mertz has thrown for more than 210 yards in back-to-back games for the first time in his career.
Frost is 0-5 at Nebraska the week following an open date, with one of those losses coming to UW in 2019. The Cornhuskers are on a four-game losing streak; the program has had a losing streak of at least four games in three of the four years Frost has coached.
THREE KEYS FOR THE BADGERS
1. Keep building passing attack: Graham Mertz is looking about as comfortable as he has in the pocket for the Badgers over the past three weeks. He’s been decisive in his decision-making, and he’s paying off good protection and open receivers with solid pay. UW should keep up that against Northwestern, especially with play-action passes early in the game. Northwestern is going to have to commit extra bodies to stopping the run, and Mertz should have one-on-one opportunities early and often.
2. Get an early lead: One through line during the Badgers’ five-game win streak has been getting leads in the first half. The only game in the streak that the Badgers lost that first-half lead was at Purdue, but UW got a late field goal to tie the game before halftime. Leads allow coordinator Jim Leonhard to unleash the front seven in the pass rush, and Northwestern’s middle-of-the-pack offense — eighth in the Big Ten in rushing and passing — can’t operate one-dimensionally if the score forces it to throw more.
3. Dominate the interior: Leonhard credited the work of nose tackle Keeanu Benton and the entire defensive line for how effective the unit has been this season. He said by sharpening their angles and allowing them to be more downhill, it’s helped create more disruption in the backfield. Northwestern’s interior line isn’t likely to be able to handle Benton or ends Matt Henningsen and Isaiah Mullens. The Wildcats allow more than five tackles for loss per game, and the Badgers are tied for 17th in the FBS with 6.8 TFLs per game.
THREE KEYS FOR THE WILDCATS
1. Keep Marty moving: Northwestern has used just about every realistic option it started the season with under center at some point this season. Senior Andrew Marty has gotten the bulk of the work the past two weeks and it’s probably the best decision the Wildcats can make. His 60.5% completion rate is the best on the team, and he’s a willing runner despite being a 6-foot-3, 224-pound pocket passer. His mobility could be helpful in buying time against UW’s active pass rush, turning sacks into throwaways.
2. Muck it up: Whatever the Wildcats have done trying to stop opponents’ rushing attacks this season hasn’t worked, so Northwestern should muck it up against the Badgers’ resurgent ground game. What’s that look like? Blitzing linebackers, shooting gaps and hoping those tactics lead to chaos in the backfield. This is a high-risk, high-reward proposition — this strategy also could lead to huge lanes to the second and third levels for UW rushers — but the way the Wildcats are playing up front must change for them to have a chance.
3. Tackle Braelon Allen: UW will need freshman tailback Braelon Allen to be the primary tailback and carry the biggest load of his young career with junior Chez Mellusi out for the season. Allen already has shown prowess in running through tackles — PFF credits him with 4.03 yards after contact per carry. Northwestern is tied for 12th in the Big Ten with 117 missed tackles, per PFF, so a step forward in this area is necessary.
Series: UW leads 60-37-5
First meeting: UW lost 22-10
Last meeting: UW lost 17-7 last season
UW's longest winning streak: 13 games (1972 to 1984)
UW's longest losing streak: Six games (1929 to 1937)
It’s difficult to envision the Badgers' opponent getting to double-digit points. Northwestern doesn’t have enough firepower to handle UW’s defense, which really only has been beaten by high-level receivers. Northwestern has been able to drag UW into rock fights despite a talent gap in the past, but its defensive front is in for a long afternoon against UW’s offensive line.
UW quarterback Graham Mertz should be able to find holes and exact some revenge against the defense that started his downward trajectory last season.
Badgers 35, Northwestern 7
The fan's pick
Northwestern visits Camp Randall this weekend. How is it going to go?— Badger Beat (@BadgerBeat) November 11, 2021