Munson's Thoughts: Wisconsin

There isn't a better set up than this. Nebraska's first Big Ten under the lights in Camp Randall. #8 rated Huskers will face off with #7 rated Badgers. If conferences were neighborhoods then the following would apply: the two toughest kids on the block are going to fight. Expect a heavyweight bout.

The game between Nebraska and Wisconsin is anticipated as one of the best of the year. Minus some of the recent conference championship games it could also be considered one of the most important games for Nebraska in the last decade.

Nebraska looks to make a statement under the lights at Camp Randall. Nebraska is 4-0 and while the wins have been by considerable margins there are spots in each of the non-conference game that lead up to some concerns about the game against the Badgers.

These are the story-lines that I will be watching on Saturday night:

Will Jared Crick be 100%?
1. Health status of Crick and Dennard - Jared Crick suffered a concussion toward the end of the game against Washington and subsequently missed the Wyoming game. Alfonzo Dennard suffered a leg muscle injury before the season and saw his first time against Wyoming. Dennard only saw time on the first half of the game and pulled up after chasing a Wyoming receiver down the sideline. Russell Wilson has a tendency to hold onto the football for an extended period of time and the compliment of Dennard getting coverage and Crick getting pressure will be necessary for Nebraska to try to win on Saturday night.

2. The battle of field position - Nebraska's offense has shown a capability to outscore their opponents, but on the road against a higher rated opponent you will want to not only give your opponent the long field, but set yourself up with good starting field position. One of those ways could be through kickoff returns. Ameer Abdullah for Nebraska is averaging an astounding 42.5 yards per kickoff return including a long of 100 yards for a touchdown. Wisconsin's kicker Alec Lemer through four games has had 32 kickoff opportunities of which only five have gone for touchbacks. More than that, there were another three that were kicked out of bounds.

3. Nebraska's success on the road - Bo Pelini gets his team ready to play on the road and their record supports it. The Huskers have won nine of their last 10 on the road in the last 10 contests. The only loss came in one of the hostile environments in college football, College Station, Texas. Nebraska has had success though in hostile, loud environments like Washington last year in Seattle. Nebraska tries to get to 10 out of his last 11 road contests against Wisconsin on Saturday night.

I feel a lot better about the upcoming game than I did immediately following Nebraska's game with Wyoming. There are some things that Nebraska fans have to consider when it comes to this year's team and teams going forward and that is that they aren't the 1995 team.

Teams in Lincoln have some tough benchmarks to measure up to. Ultimately, any team that does line up in Lincoln gets compared to any of the give national championship teams and whether or not the current team is capable of winning a national title.

That feat is games away. This team has to beat Wisconsin to get there and I am officially drinking the Kool-Aid. I expect that Wisconsin will do a lot of the things that have stymied the Nebraska defense this season like running right at them and rolling the pocket.

Nebraska has had to work on personnel packages throughout the first four games to offset injuries on the defensive line and in the secondary. That is going to help Nebraska on Saturday night. Also, it's clear that Nebraska has something offensive in store for Wisconsin.

My guess right now is that the Wildcat that Nebraska rolled out against Wyoming is the tip of the ice burg. I expect that you will see some combinations of Rex Burkhead, Jamal Turner, Aaron Green and Ameer Abdullah back there.

I also think that Nebraska will have some things up their sleeve to get players like Kenny Bell and Kyler Reed testing the middle of the field. The question is can Taylor Martinez hit the mark and lead them enough because he hasn't all season. Still, I am taking Nebraska to win. Give me the Huskers 38-31.

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