Kickoff: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET (Fox) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis
Spread: Nebraska by 3.
Watchability: Pretty much the sexiest matchup the Big Ten could have hoped for after NCAA sanctions made Penn State and Ohio State ineligible for the postseason. The Badgers have had a rough season and dropped two straight, but are only one win away from a third-consecutive trip to the Rose Bowl. Meantime, Nebraska is trying for its first BCS bowl since playing for the national championship in Pasadena in 2001.
Shining stars: Nebraska -- QB Taylor Martinez leads an offense averaging more than 35 points and 460 yards per game. The junior is completing 63.3 percent of his passes for 2,483 yards with 21 touchdowns against eight interceptions. The elusive signal caller also has rushed for 833 yards with eight scores this season. Wisconsin -- RB Montee Ball is the heart of the offense. The senior has a Football Bowl Subdivision-record 79 touchdowns in his career and is averaging 127.3 rushing yards per game this year. Overall, Ball has rushed for 1,528 yards with 18 touchdowns this season.
Who could steal the show: Nebraska -- LB Will Compton. The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder has a team-high 98 tackles, including six for loss, to go with three sacks. The senior also has seven passes defended this season. Wisconsin -- LB Mike Taylor. The 6-foot-2, 224-pounder has a whopping 115 tackles this season, including 14 for loss, to go with two sacks. Taylor also has demonstrated his range in coverage as he has four passes defended this season.
Magic number for Nebraska: 5. Times in the past six games -- all wins -- the Cornhuskers had to overcome a halftime deficit to win. Nebraska railed from a double-digit second-half hole to win four times this season.
Magic number for Wisconsin: 4. Average margin of defeat in four Big Ten losses this season. Three of those have come in overtime.
3 keys to a Nebraska win:
- Corral Ball: The Cornhuskers did a pretty good job containing one of the better backs in the country in a 30-27 win earlier this season. Nebraska held Ball to 90 yards on 32 carries and stopped him on a crucial fourth down late in the game. Ball did score three touchdowns, but all were on runs inside the 5-yard line as he was routinely stuffed at the line of scrimmage. The Cornhuskers defense must be just as physical on Saturday.
- Pressure the passer: The Badgers are starting QB Curt Phillips, a backup who has emerged as a team leader after taking over for injured QB Joel Stave earlier this season. Phillips has undergone multiple knee surgeries and is limited in his passing ability, making him a prime target for a Nebraska defense ranked 32nd in the country in sacks, averaging 2.42 per game. Expected the Cornhuskers to pressure Philips and DE Eric Martin to lead the rush. Martin has a team-high 8.5 sacks and 16 tackles for loss this season.
- Protect the ball: The biggest weakness for the Cornhuskers this season has been their inability to protect the football. Nebraska has the second-worst turnover margin in the Big Ten at minus-8. The Cornhuskers have lost a stunning 20 fumbles to go with nine interceptions this season. Meantime, the Badgers are a plus-1 in turnover margin this fall.
3 keys to a Wisconsin win:
- Stop the run: The Badgers must find a way to slow the Nebraska rushing attack. The Cornhuskers average 252.2 rushing yards per game, the eighth-highest total in the country. Nebraska touts RBs Ameer Abdullah (1,071 yards, eight touchdowns) and Rex Burkhead (474 yards, four touchdowns) in addition to the dynamic Martinez. And the Badgers have already failed once. Nebraska gashed the team for 259 yards on the ground in a win earlier this year and will try to repeat the feat against a rushing defense ranked 12th in the country, allowing fewer than 112 yards per game.
- Go deep: The status of WR Jared Abbrederis is unclear for the Big Ten championship game. Abbrederis, who suffered a concussion earlier this season, had an undisclosed head injury against Penn State last week. The junior has a team-high 44 catches for 764 yards with five touchdowns. There isn't much depth after him. TE Jacob Pedersen is second with 25 catches for 337 yards and five touchdowns. If Abbrederis is limited or can't go, the run-heavy Badgers must find a way to stretch the field.
- Mix it up: The offensive play calling for the Badgers has featured new wrinkles like reverses, running backs in motion before the snap and unique personnel groupings. However, the reason the team is 0-3 in overtime this season is because the play calling gets absurdly conservative in tight spots. This game has the chance to be a low-scoring affair and the Badgers aren't good enough to run on first and second down and hope for an open man on third. Wisconsin must break tendencies to topple the Cornhuskers.
Prediction: Nebraska 20, Wisconsin 17
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from Big Ten bloggers Dave Carey and Mike Singer, follow @CBSSportsBigTen.