Nebraska drove to Wisconsin’s 11-yard line in the final minute but ended up losing the ball on downs at the 21. Faion Hicks broke up Adrian Martinez’s fourth-down pass to Zavier Betts with four seconds left.
The Badgers (8-3, 6-2 Big Ten, No. 15 College Football Playoffs) handed Nebraska (3-8, 1-7) its fifth straight loss and moved a step closer to playing for a conference title.
Wisconsin will clinch its fourth Big Ten championship game appearance in the last six years if it wins its regular-season finale at Minnesota. Wisconsin is tied with No. 18 Iowa for first place in the West but owns the tiebreaker advantage because it beat the Hawkeyes 27-7 on Oct. 30.
Allen, who had 22 carries Saturday, has rushed for over 100 yards in each of Wisconsin’s last seven games. The 17-year-old had totaled 12 carries during Wisconsin’s 1-3 start.
He had a career-long 71-yard touchdown in the first quarter and a 3-yard score late in the third quarter. After Nebraska tied the game with 6:27 left in the game on Marvin Scott’s 3-yard touchdown, Allen put Wisconsin back ahead with one more breakaway.
Allen went through the right side of the line, headed toward the sideline and easily shed safety Myles Farmer’s tackle attempt inside the 30.
Nebraska got a first down from the Wisconsin 11 in the final minute. But after right tackle Bryce Benhart committed a holding penalty that pushed the Cornhuskers back 10 yards, Martinez threw four straight incompletions.
Nebraska coach Scott Frost received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the fourth-down incompletion, perhaps believing Hicks made contact with the receiver before the throw arrived.
Martinez went 23 of 35 for 351 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, both by Collin Wilder. He became Nebraska’s all-time leader in career total offense with 10,792 yards. Tommy Armstrong Jr. had 10,690 yards in total offense with 10,690.
Nebraska: In its first game since Frost fired four offensive assistants, the Cornhuskers gained 452 yards, the most Wisconsin’s top-ranked defense had allowed all season. But it still added up to one more close loss against a quality team. Nebraska is 5-19 in one-score games during Frost’s coaching tenure.
Wisconsin: The Badgers had three scoreless trips inside Nebraska’s 35-yard line but still showed their offense is good enough to win games when their defense isn’t dominant.
Wisconsin could move up a few spots but probably won’t get into the top 15.
Nebraska: Hosts Iowa on Friday.
Wisconsin: Visits Minnesota on Saturday.