uw football

Badgers football: UW insists title game experience is big asset

2012-11-27T04:55:00Z 2013-07-17T17:19:42Z Badgers football: UW insists title game experience is big assetTOM MULHERN | Wisconsin State Journal | tmulhern@madison.com | 608-252-6169 madison.com

The University of Wisconsin football team has been in plenty of big-game environments in the past three seasons, including two Rose Bowls, the first Big Ten Conference title game and all of the battles that led up to those games.

While the results have been mixed — including losses in both Rose Bowls — the Badgers have two big things going for them heading into the Big Ten title game against Nebraska on Saturday night in Indianapolis: They are battle-tested and know exactly what awaits them at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Actually, with a 7-5 record, you could toss another log onto the motivational fire, too. The Badgers have absolutely nothing to lose, given few people outside of their locker room believe they belong in this game.

"Basically, having these five losses, one loss being against Nebraska, we really feel like we have something to prove against them and to the nation," UW senior running back Montee Ball said on Monday during a teleconference.

"(Nebraska is) a great team. We plan on it being a great environment and hoping that the best team comes out winning — which is us."

UW coach Bret Bielema started the process on Sunday, hammering home what he perceives to be the decided advantage of having defeated Michigan State 42-39 in the first title game.

"It's a really unique experience, more so than any other game I'd ever been involved with, bowl games or anything," Bielema said.

"It's a very different stadium. It's a very, very unique environment and ... our kids have already been there."

Ball recalled the excitement on the field at the start of the game as being unlike almost anything else he has experienced.

"The environment was something every player dreams of playing in," said Ball, who rushed for 137 yards and three touchdowns, caught three passes for 7 yards and another score, and completed a 32-yard pass in the game.

"The environment was incredible, the lights, cameras and just the fans screaming. It was something that was very special, just the energy that we had on our sideline was great. I'm really hoping the same thing happens this weekend."

The benefits of having been through this before stretch from the pragmatic to the idealistic. The Badgers know the routine in the days leading up to the game and, having been on this stage before, they hope they won't blink when the lights come on.

"I think it's important," junior linebacker Chris Borland said. "I think it'll kind of calm guys' nerves a little bit, understanding we've been there before. It's almost like a bowl-game atmosphere in a lot of ways.

"I think guys will be able to deal with it well. The older guys will help the younger guys, who weren't there last year (or) didn't contribute. Last year's experience is going to go a long way in helping us be comfortable come game time."

Of course, if being comfortable and knowing what to expect are all that mattered, the Badgers wouldn't have lost the second Rose Bowl. So, that theory has its limitations.

Not surprisingly, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini doesn't think the Badgers' experience in the title game will have much impact this time.

"It's going to be won between the lines," Pelini said. "You can sit there and dissect it all you want, at the end of the day, it's going to be whoever makes the most plays is going to win the game."

If anything, the Badgers proved that point in three overtime losses this season. It still comes down to making plays at crucial points and this team has struggled to do that, with its five losses coming by a combined 19 points.

"You hate to go down that way, but you like to see the fight we've had," Borland said. "As far as a reason for the close losses, I think we've done things well, maybe haven't executed in the clutch like we could.

"There's been no lack of effort in our preparation or execution, really. All of the things you need to win are there, it's a matter of sealing the deal, which I think we've gotten better at, despite it not showing in the games on Saturdays."

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(10) Comments

  1. TSEliot2012
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    TSEliot2012 - November 28, 2012 1:35 pm
    The Huskers will do fine in Indianapolis. The Badgers, well..., they had squandered several opportunities over the past five years. Not planning to miss this one, but if it is the blowout that is expected by the Corn Huskers, I'll be turning it off at half-time.
  2. huskergirl
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    huskergirl - November 28, 2012 1:47 am
    I'm sorry. I respect Wisconsin and the big games they've played in over the past few years. But to suggest that Nebraska will be intimidated by a big game atmosphere is laughable. Trying playing Texas for the the Big 12 title in Dallas! Yes....Nebraska lost, but it wasn't because they were intimidated.

    Nebraska is a program that thrives on excellence and isn't frightened by anyone. Playing in 'The Big Game' is why athletes come to Nebraska.
  3. Lionhear
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    Lionhear - November 27, 2012 9:50 pm
    Good and true post.
  4. THE Husker Daddy O
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    THE Husker Daddy O - November 27, 2012 8:08 pm
    You forgot the 90's there chief. A lot of you badger fans act like badger football ever mattered...Your team was GOOD for a FEW years nothing more. The great Dr. TO called it, when he called out the badger nation. Nuff said Nebraska is the REAL BIG RED! Deal with it...
  5. hackvrod
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    hackvrod - November 27, 2012 7:13 pm
    I wouldn't be bragging too much about your "little red". That throwing motion your running qb has is pathetic. Half his throws are wounded ducks. Most of you Nebraska fans act like its the 1970s or 1980s yet. You guys aren't the big boys on the block anymore.
  6. THE Husker Daddy O
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    THE Husker Daddy O - November 27, 2012 5:15 pm
    The Huskers are NOT underestimating the Badgers.They still remember the beat down in madison. They were over amped in Lincoln to start the game.They are licking their collective chops for this one... The Huskers are going to play lights out my Badger friends... BOlieve and the staff will have our boys ready to go! Nuff said...GO BIG RED! (The REAL BIG RED)
  7. hcliff1
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    hcliff1 - November 27, 2012 9:59 am
    AS in every other close match this badger football staff will fail to adjust and not allow this team success. I expect Ball up the middle two or three times, followed by a roll out pass to a tight end and a punt. If Aberdaris is not full strength or unavailable Nebraska will put 9 in the box and dare to be beat by a pass. Bielema was interviewed yesterday and took no blame for any miscues and seems to focus on it's all bad luck? It was bad luck when Alvarez annointed him
  8. WeNeedMorePower
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    WeNeedMorePower - November 27, 2012 9:26 am
    While Nebraska hasn't played in a Big Ten Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium, they have played in conference championship games in 3 of the last 4 years. So the argument that Wisconsin has more title game experience doesn't hold water. Either way I don't think it matters much and this game will be decided in the trenches. Should be another close one...
  9. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - November 27, 2012 9:02 am
    Probably the Badgers' biggest asset is that everyone — particularly the Huskers — will be underestimating them.
  10. Observer5
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    Observer5 - November 27, 2012 8:21 am
    Unfortunately the Badgers don't have title game experience at QB, the most important position.

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