Saturday, September 29, 2012
Intense atmosphere on tap in Lincoln
By Mitch Sherman
LINCOLN, Neb. -- The atmosphere at Memorial Stadium on Saturday night promises to be intense for Wisconsin’s first visit here as a Big Ten foe of Nebraska.
The Huskers are looking to avenge a 48-17 loss in Madison a year ago as Wisconsin welcomed Nebraska to the league. The players and fans in Lincoln remember. Expect the noise level to crank up early for the 8 p.m. ET start on ABC.
Nebraska has won nine straight night games at home, 35 of 40 all time at Memorial Stadium and 11 of 13 under fifth-year coach Bo Pelini.
It’s homecoming. The weather is reminiscent of summer. And the late start has allowed all of downtown Lincoln to work up a nice lather before kickoff.
Watch the running backs for an early idea of how this one may unfold.
Wisconsin senior Montee Ball is set to play after sustaining a concussion last week against UTEP. It was his second head injury in less than two months. The Badgers need Ball to pound Nebraska’s suspect rush defense and remove the heat from redshirt freshman quarterback Joel Stave.
Nebraska junior Rex Burkhead returned last week after missing two games with a sprained knee ligament. Burkhead, while wearing a brace on his left leg, rushed for 119 yards on eight carries in the 73-7 Nebraska win. But consider the competition: Idaho State couldn’t stop the Huskers’ fourth-teamers, let alone Burkhead, a returning All-Big Ten back. Wisconsin presents a real test.
Finally, keep an eye on Wisconsin defensive end David Gilbert, who called out Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez this week, mocking the third-year starter’s passing ability.
UW coach Bret Bielema said Gilbert would not start. One has to wonder how quickly he’ll play -- and if Bielema is secretly pleased that his defender may have given Martinez more to consider as he prepares for the big-game atmosphere.