Badgers are night owls

Updated: October 10, 2003, 1:07 PM ET

MADISON, Wis. -- The Wisconsin Badgers have become night owls.

They've won 14 of their last 15 games under the lights after losing four of their first five night games under coach Barry Alvarez.

Now comes a real test -- No. 3 Ohio State (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) brings its 19-game winning streak to town to take on No. 23 Wisconsin (5-1, 2-0) on Saturday night.

"You're going to have 80,000 people watching the game. There is going to be a little chill in the air. It's just going to be the way football is supposed to be played," Badgers quarterback Jim Sorgi said.

Alvarez said he wouldn't have agreed to playing at night if the game was at Ohio State because its too much of a home field advantage.

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel took another view.

"Our guys like to have exciting experiences," Tressel said. "I know they've enjoyed when we've played in the evening, both at home and away."

The Badgers' only loss in their last 15 night games was a 31-28 defeat at Oregon State two years ago.

Wisconsin's sundown success began after Alvarez's staff studied how NFL teams dealt with prime-time play. "The general consensus was shorten the day," Alvarez said.

So, he pushed movies and meetings back two hours on the nights before games. And he allowed players to sleep in late on game day before going to the stadium in the midmorning, then having more free time in the afternoon.

"We've played pretty well in those later games since we've changed the schedule," Alvarez said.

While the defending national champions prepared for their first road game, the Badgers spent the week trying to keep their emotions in check.

Sorgi and linebacker Jeff Mack, senior co-captains, were supposed to set the tone for the younger players. But they're having a tough time.

"I'm hyped right now," Mack said early in the week.

Sorgi added, "I think everybody is real hyped for this game and I think they're supposed to be and I think that's good for us."

What might not be good is that Wisconsin is 3-9 in conference home games over the last three seasons, and Ohio State is getting some of its injured players back.

Quarterback Craig Krenzel, 18-1 as a starter, returns Saturday night after missing two games with a hyperextended right elbow, and center Alex Stepanovich (ankle) is expected back, too.

The Badgers are averaging 34 points in victories over North Carolina, Illinois and Penn State. It doesn't bother them that they weren't able to put away their opponents early.

"The bottom line is winning in any way, shape or form," wideout Lee Evans said after the Badgers edged Penn State 30-23.

The Buckeyes know the feeling.

Ten of their 19 victories during the nation's longest winning streak have come by a touchdown or less, including last year's 19-14 victory at Camp Randall, which was played during the day.

"Our guys have done a good job whether we've played at noon, 3:30, evening," Tressel said. "And I think our guys, many of whom played at Camp Randall last year, really think that that's a tremendous environment.

"And it will be nothing but enhanced by being at night."

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index