The Wisconsin Badgers have snuck their way into a 21st consecutive year of reaching a bowl game with a 15-14 victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers after a last-minute QB sneak from Graham Mertz to give Wisconsin the late lead.
Needing one win to reach a bowl game and keep the streak alive with only two games remaining, this was a big game for Wisconsin to right the ship and improve their record under the still-interim head coach Jim Leonhard. The weather conditions were not ideal and things were not looking good for most of the game. Nebraska held a 7-0 lead at halftime and had a 14-3 lead as late as 10:07 remaining in the 4th quarter.
But Wisconsin battled back in the 4th quarter, with Graham Mertz tossing a 10 yard touchdown pass to Skyler Bell to get back within one possession. But team captain Nick Herbig, who was ejected earlier in the game for targeting, came onto the field in celebration, earning an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Nebraska decided to enforce the penalty on the kickoff, allowing Wisconsin to go for two to bring the score within three points. The two point conversion failed and it remained a 14-9 Huskers lead.
With less than three minutes to go in the game, Wisconsin got the ball back and drove down the field. The big play was a diving 27 yard reception by Isaac Guerendo to bring Wisconsin to 1st and goal. A few plays later, quarterback Graham Mertz ran a QB sneak from the two yard line to give the Badgers the 15-14 lead with 35 seconds to play. They went for two again and failed, but the defense held up against Nebraska's offense, securing the 15-14 victory for Wisconsin, their 6th of the season, ensuring a 21st straight year of playing in a bowl game.
Graham Mertz was just 8-of-18 passing for 83 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Chez Mellusi had 21 carries for 98 yards while Braelon Allen had 18 carries for 92 yards. The Badgers defense held Nebraska to just 171 total yards of offense on the day.
Wisconsin secures the Freedom Trophy for the rivalry with Nebraska, but next week they'll play for their most important rivalry trophy, Paul Bunyan's Axe, with Minnesota making the trip to Camp Randall for the final week of the regular season.