Bielema Praises Burkhead, Martinez

The weekend is quickly approaching, and with it, comes the debut game for the Big Ten's newest toy: Nebraska.

In what is bound to be one of the most hyped Big Ten Conference games of the season, the Cornhuskers are slated to travel to Camp Randall to take on the Wisconsin Badgers, who have amassed a 46-4 home record since the beginning of the 2004 season.

This will be no easy task for the Cornhuskers as they meet Wisconsin for the first time since their 21-20 loss back in 1974 in Madison, Wisconsin.

Both teams have displayed high-octane offenses this season - the two programs rank No. 1 and No. 2 in scoring offense in the Big Ten – at more than 42.0 PPG.

The reason behind Wisconsin's dominant offense lies in the addition of senior-transfer quarterback Russell Wilson and their dual-threat backfield, which features Montee Ball and his current 10-game streak with a touchdown.

As for Nebraska, their power -- just as Wisconsin -- resides on the shoulders of Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead. The duo has combined for over 200 rushing yards in all four of the team's games this season, and they lead the Big Ten in rushing yards per game with 272.5.

"Two very good football players, obviously two different positions. But it was easy to fall in love with those two guys, they are tremendous competitors," said Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema.

Bielema -- in his sixth season as the program's head coach -- also displayed his respect for Burkhead and the way he goes about his business.

"Just from being at my time at Wisconsin, and watching number twenty-two -- to watch Rex [Burkhead] play, I just like his mentality. You can tell he loves the game, he's a competitor who brings to life what you really want with a running back," said Bielema.

Transitioning over to Martinez, who ranks fourth in the Big Ten with 267.0 yards of total offense, Bielema clearly stated his thoughts on the rising star.

"As for [Taylor] Martinez, he's obviously as gifted as there is at the position," said Bielema. "He can accelerate at a short amount of time very quickly. He has the ability in certain plays that are designed for him to run and if the answer isn't there when he drops back for the pass, he can quickly take off. We just hope to get in front of him and make him fall down."

The Badgers have yet to be challenged this season so far, but that will all change when the Cornhuskers step on their turf. In four blowout games, the Wisconsin defense is allowing just 8.5 PPG -- ranking third in the nation.

There's plenty of nationally recognized names in this game on both sides of the ball. But the ultimate battle will be between Wisconsin's Wilson and Nebraska's Martinez, who according to Bielema is "as gifted as they come."

- Josh Harvey -

Kyle Phillippi covers the Big Ten Conference for His work has also been featured in Big Red Report Magazine. Previously, his stories were featured on, covering SMU athletics.
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