Braelon Allen’s 3-yard TD run in OT gets Wisconsin bowl eligible with 24-17 win against Nebraska
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin first-year coach Luke Fickell said he didn’t expect Braelon Allen to play against Nebraska on Saturday night. But the standout running back came up with big runs when they were needed most.
Allen scored the game-winning touchdown on a 3-yard run in overtime to lift Wisconsin to a 24-17 win against the Cornhuskers.
Nebraska’s Chubba Purdy threw an interception to Preston Zachman to end the game.
Allen ran for two touchdowns and finished with 62 yards rushing on 22 carries for the Badgers (6-5, 4-4 Big Ten), who snapped a three-game losing streak and are bowl eligible for the 22nd straight season. Only Georgia and Oklahoma have longer active bowl streaks.
Allen suffered a lower left leg injury in the Badgers’ loss to then-No. 3 Ohio State on Oct. 28.
“It’s been hard on us because you get emotionally tied — all of a sudden he’s in there and then he’s not,” Fickell said. “I just thought I can’t have that tonight.”
Allen sat out a few series to start the game on Saturday, but Fickell said Allen really wanted to play.
“He was kind of chomping at the bit to push us to get him in the ballgame,” Fickell said. “That makes me proud of what he did. You know, he didn’t feel perfect.”
Nebraska (5-6, 3-5) scored on their fourth play of the game on Purdy’s 55-yard touchdown run. Purdy extended the lead to 14-0 with a 58-yard touchdown pass to Jaylen Lloyd with 6:01 left in the first quarter.
Purdy, the younger brother of San Francisco 49er quarterback Brock Purdy, got his first start of the season and finished 15-of-23 passing for 169 yards and with 105 yards rushing on 14 carries.
Tanner Mordecai got things going in the right direction for Wisconsin in the second quarter. Mordecai threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Jackson Acker with 6:37 to go in first half to pull the Badgers to 14-7. Nathanial Vakos’ 30-yard field goal made it 14-10.
Besides Allen, Nebraska first-year coach Matt Rhule said Mordecai was a difference maker.
“Credit to them, credit to Tanner,” Rhule said. “He made the plays at the end.”
Mordecai was 18-of-28 passing for 160 yards in his second game back from a broken right hand.
Rhule said the Huskers couldn’t get things done in extra time.
“Got to overtime, just couldn’t get the stop,” Rhule said. “And then couldn’t convert one of those plays at the end. Disappointed for our guys, proud of the effort that they did give. A lot of the things that we’ve talked about were significantly improved, but it just wasn’t quite enough in a close ballgame.”
Wisconsin took the lead 17-14 on a 2-yard touchdown run by Allen with 7:47 left in the third quarter. Nebraska’s Tristan Alvano kicked a 30-yard field goal to tie the game at 17-all with 4 seconds left in regulation.
Nebraska: The Huskers have one more opportunity to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2016 when they face Iowa on Friday. They’ve lost 10 straight games against Wisconsin and haven’t claimed a road game in Madison since 1966.
Wisconsin: Allen has struggled with a lower body injury this season but offered valuable contributions after being limited with three carries in Wisconsin’s loss to Northwestern last weekend. Acker picked up the slack in the ground game with eight carries for 32 yards against Nebraska.
Wisconsin persevered despite missing one of its best players. Hunter Wohler, the Badgers’ leading tackler, was ruled out in the second half with an upper body injury. Wohler entered the game leading the Big Ten with 61 solo tackles.
Nebraska: Hosts Iowa (No. 16 College Football Playoff) on Friday.
Wisconsin: At Minnesota on Saturday.
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