MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Jonathan Taylor ran for 221 yards and three scores, including a career-best 88-yarder in the fourth quarter, and No. 16 Wisconsin's punishing ground game wore down winless Nebraska in a 41-24 victory on Saturday night.
The Badgers (4-1, 2-0 Big Ten) withstood the Cornhuskers' desperate second-half comeback attempt from a 17-point halftime deficit led by two touchdown passes in the third quarter by Adrian Martinez.
Nebraska's offense flashed big-play promise behind their freshman quarterback, who threw for 384 yards and rushed for a score. JD Spielman had nine catches for 209 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown catch.
It still wasn't enough to prevent the Cornhuskers (0-5, 0-3) from losing their ninth straight game, extending a program record.
Just too many mistakes to keep up with the disciplined Badgers.
Nebraska was flagged 10 times for 100 yards. Martinez fumbled in the third quarter, a turnover that Wisconsin cashed in for a 20-yard touchdown run from Taiwan Deal for a 24-point lead with 6:50 left in the third quarter.
The Cornhuskers still kept attacking through the air, a smart move considering Wisconsin was thin at cornerback because of injuries. Martinez found Jack Stoll for a 12-yard touchdown pass with 4:20 left to get back within 17.
Nebraska was driving again early in the fourth quarter with a chance to cut into the lead.
Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Edwards, a preseason All-American, finally put a stop to their comeback hopes. He had his second sack of the night on third-and-14 to force a punt.
Taylor barreled through the line on the next play from scrimmage before speeding away from a winded defense for his 88-yard score and a 41-17 lead with 12:50 left.
Taylor finished with 24 carries. Alex Hornibrook was 13 of 24 for 163 yards and a score.
Martinez finished 24-of-42 passing, adding 57 yards on the ground on 13 carries.
Nebraska: There is potential on offense with Martinez's athleticism and ability to throw down field. In his third start, he seemed to be more at ease after halftime with the Cornhuskers trying to comeback. He appeared to be tentative at times in the first half while under pressure. And a season-long problem with penalties must be addressed.
Wisconsin: The young secondary banged up at cornerback coming into the game took two more hits after cornerback Deron Harrell left with a head injury in the second quarter. Safety Scott Nelson was then ejected for targeting late in the third quarter, meaning he will miss the first half of next week's prime-time matchup on the road at No. 15 Michigan. Backup safety Eric Burrell, along with freshmen cornerbacks Rachad Wildgoose and Donte Burton may have to get up to speed quickly. Wisconsin also had chances for at least three interceptions but errant passes bounced off the hands of defenders.
Nebraska: Visits Northwestern on Oct. 13.
Wisconsin: Plays third consecutive night game, at No. 15 Michigan on Oct. 13.
Nebraska Post-Game Notes
· Nebraska’s loss extended Wisconsin’s win streak over the Huskers to six games, and gave Wisconsin a 5-1 all-time record against the Huskers in Madison.
· Sophomore receiver JD Spielman caught nine passes for 209 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown in the third quarter. His 209 receiving yards are a Nebraska record, eclipsing Spielman’s 200 receiving yards last season vs. Ohio State. Spielman owns the only two 200-yard receiving games in Nebraska history.
· Spielman topped 130 receiving yards for the second straight game after recording 135 receiving yards against Purdue. This marks just the second time in school history a Nebraska player has had 130 or more receiving yards in consecutive games, joining Frosty Anderson who topped 130 yards in back-to-back 1973 games against Wisconsin and at Minnesota.
· With his 209 receiving yards, Spielman increased his career receiving total to 1,291 yards to jump nine spots to 14th on the Nebraska career receiving yardage list.
· Spielman’s 75-yard touchdown reception was the longest play from scrimmage by Nebraska this season, bettering a 57-yard touchdown strike from Adrian Martinez to Spielman against Colorado. It was the second-longest reception of Spielman’s career trailing only a 77-yard catch against Ohio State in 2017. Spielman’s touchdown reception was his fifth of the season and the sixth of his Husker career.
· Freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez completed 24-of-42 passes for a career-high 384 yards andcareer-high-tying two touchdowns. The 384 passing yards were a Nebraska freshman record.
· Martinez also rushed 13 times for 57 yards, giving him a Nebraska freshman-record 441 yards of total offense. His 441 yards of total offense ranked fourth overall in school history and were the most by a Husker since Ryker Fyfe had 442 yards of total offense at Purdue on Oct. 31, 2015. It marked the second straight week that Martinez topped 400 yards of total offense, following a 414-yard effort last week against Purdue.
· Nebraska senior receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. tied his career high with eight receptions and totaled 93 receiving yards. Tonight marked Morgan’s 31st consecutive game with at least one reception and the 17th straight game he has had at least three catches.
· Morgan increased his career receptions total to 144, moving past Terrence Nunn (136) and Johnny Rodgers (143) into fourth place on the NU career receptions list.
· Freshman running back Maurice Washington accounted for a career-high 115 all-purpose yards, including a career-high four receptions for a career-high 53 yards, 27 rushing yards and a career-high 35 kickoff return yards.
· Nebraska senior linebacker Dedrick Young recorded seven tackles in the game and increased his career tackle total to 233 to move up three spots into a tie for 18th on the Nebraska career tackles list.
· Junior punter Isaac Armstrong had his first two career punts in tonight’s game. His first career punt traveled 59 yards in the second quarter, marking the longest punt by a Husker in 2018.
· Senior linebacker Luke Gifford notched a second-quarter sack, giving him a team-high 3.5 sacks this season. It also gave Nebraska 13 sacks as a team in 2018, one shy of its 2017 team total of 14 sacks.