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Huskers Fall Short at No. 15 Wisconsin

Nebraska racked up the most yards of any Badger opponent but were just shy of tying the game late.
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It's another one-score loss for Nebraska football.

The Huskers (3-8, 1-7 Big Ten) had a chance in the closing seconds at No. 15 Wisconsin (8-3, 6-2 Big Ten) but Adrian Martinez’s pass fell incomplete after officials decided against throwing a flag on contact near the goal line.

Every time, until the final time, that Wisconsin scored, the Huskers struck back.

The Badgers returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. Two minutes later, Markese Stepp found paydirt.

Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen broke off a 71-yard touchdown late in the first quarter. Midway through the second, Samori Toure caught a 4-yard pass for his own touchdown.

A short field turned into a Badgers touchdown. The Huskers answered with a five-minute drive, topped off by a short Adrian Martinez rush to the endzone.

Marvin Scott III also found himself on a short touchdown run halfway through the fourth quarter, but his run merely tied the game at 28-28. The ensuing Wisconsin possession saw Allen break off a 53-yard touchdown run.

The Huskers burned nearly the entire final 3:50 of the game but just couldn’t get over the hump.

“There’s been a little too much hoping we win and not enough knowing we’re gonna win and believing we’re gonna win,” Frost said afterward. “Being around the guys all day at the hotel, the guys believed they were gonna win today. I think they even believed it on that last drive.

“I told them before the drive we were gonna go for two when we scored. We were heading in that direction.”

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Heading in the direction for an upset, but not quite there. Close again.

A Wisconsin running back tearing up the Blackshirts isn’t a new phenomenon. Allen, a 17-year-old who was playing high school football in the spring, dominated from the start. Allen ran the ball 22 times for 228 yards and three touchdowns.

As a whole, the Blackshirts gave up 252 yards on the ground. Michigan (204) is the only other team to eclipse the 200-yard rushing mark on the Huskers this season.

Martinez finished with 351 yards through the air on 23-for-35 passing. He added a touchdown, but also had two interceptions. On the ground, Martinez ran for 23 yards and a touchdown.

With his yardage output, Martinez increased his career total offense total to 10,792, setting the Nebraska career record, passing Tommy Armstrong Jr.’s previous record of 10,690 yards from 2013 to 2016.

The fourth-year starter briefly left the game at the end of the first half with a shoulder injury. Freshman Logan Smothers replaced him for two plays to run out the clock of the second quarter. The appearance for Smothers puts him at five games this season and makes him ineligible for a redshirt.

Three running backs took carries, led by Brody Belt who was the only Husker to top 30 net yards. He had 31.

The pass-happy day had nine Huskers notching carries, including Austin Allen (143) and Toure (113) both going over the 100-yard mark. Allen’s 143 yards are a school record for a Nebraska tight end, breaking the previous record of 137 yards by Johnny Mitchell against Oklahoma in 1991.

The 452 yards of total offense are the most against Wisconsin this season. Going into Saturday, the Badgers boasted the top defense in the FBS.

With the loss, Scott Frost falls to 5-19 in one-score games at Nebraska. This season alone, Nebraska is 0-7 in one-score games.

The Huskers close the season Black Friday, hosting No. 17 Iowa.