Brett Maher kicked a 41-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, and 22nd-ranked Nebraska rallied from a 17-point deficit to shock Wisconsin, 30-27, in the Big Ten opener for both teams.
Montee Ball rushed for three scores for the Badgers, but he never got hold of a handoff on a 4th-and-1 play near midfield with just over a minute left. Nebraska recovered and ran out the remaining time.
Taylor Martinez rushed 38 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter and passed for another score in the same period for the Cornhuskers (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten), who netted the game's final 20 points. Martinez ended 17-of-29 for 181 yards and a pair of scores through the air. He also rushed for 107 yards. Rex Burkhead gained 86 yards on 18 carries.
"We made it hard on ourselves, but as a football team, we made a lot of mistakes in that game. We didn't play our best football, we didn't play nearly as well as we are capable of playing. But we got a 'W,' and we stayed the course as a football team," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said.
Joel Stave ended 12-of-23 for 214 yards with a TD for the Badgers (3-2, 0-1), who also received 90 rushing yards on 32 carries from Ball. Jared Abbrederis caught seven passes for 142 yards and a TD.
"They did well shutting us down in the second half,' Abbrederis said. "We have to come out and just have a better mentality. As an offense we had them, we were up, we were doing well, and we just have to keep it going. We just have to watch the film, see what we did wrong in the second half, and try to fix that."
Martinez was sacked by David Gilbert and fumbled the ball away, giving Wisconsin the ball at the Nebraska 13 early in the third quarter. Ball scored on a 2-yard run, but the Cornhuskers came back with a 38-yard TD run by Martinez up the middle.
Following a Wisconsin punt, the Cornhuskers marched 75 yards in 10 plays. Martinez capped the drive with a 10-yard scoring toss to Kyler Reed with under four minutes left in the quarter for a 27-24 margin.
Maher split the uprights from 38 yards with nearly a minute left in the third, and Nebraska used 12 plays in moving 60 yards to go in front early in the fourth. Burkhead powered over the right side for a 21-yard gain to the Wisconsin 34. Martinez added an 18-yard rush, ahead of Maher's 41-yard boot with 9:41 to play.
Wisconsin punted on its next possession, but moved to near midfield on its final series. Danny O'Brien's pass to Jordan Fredrick was right at the midfield stripe, but upon replay the ball was moved back a half-yard and the first down call was reversed.
Linebacker Alonzo Whaley then came free up the middle, disrupting the handoff to Ball. The Cornhuskers recovered and eclipsed the remaining 1:11 to seal a tie for the second-largest comeback win in school history.
Ball scored on runs of 2 and 1 yard in the opening quarter, the latter coming following a Burkhead fumble.
Maher kicked a 26-yard field goal later in the first, but also missed a 52- yard try.
Stave found Abbrederis for a 29-yard score in the second prior to Martinez's 3-yard connection to Burkhead for a 20-10 game with 3:11 left in the half.
Jack Russell missed a 41-yard field goal attempt in the final minute of the half for the Cornhuskers.
Ball has 67 career touchdowns, tying him for fifth in NCAA history. He needs 12 TDs to break the NCAA career record ... Nebraska leads the all-time series, 4-3 ... Wisconsin's five-game conference win streak came to an end ... The win marked the 850th all-time victory in Nebraska school history. The Huskers are the fourth team to reach that figure, joining Michigan, Notre Dame and Texas.