It must be the college football post season because injuries, motivation, and experience are dominating the headlines. Here are today’s Hot Reads:
NO BAKER, NOW WHAT? >>> Corn Nation takes a look at what Baker Steinkuhler’s injury might mean for Nebraska against Wisconsin’s powerful run game.
More likely, you muddle through as best you can, and hope that the linebackers can fill in the gap. Fortunately, it doesn’t appear that Wisconsin’s Curt Phillips poses as much of a threat running the ball. Sure, he rushed for 68 yards against Indiana, but 52 came on one play. In the other three games he’s played this year, Phillips has lost yardage, including -33 yards against Ohio State.
So Nebraska can focus on stopping Montee Ball and James White, and try to force Phillips to throw. He’s only completing 52% of his passes this season, so you like Nebraska’s chances if the Huskers can stop the Badgers o the ground.
Last time out against Wisconsin, Nebraska committed a bunch of players to the run and you can probably expect the same this time around. The Huskers have had the luxury of limiting Thad Randle — still suffering from a knee injury that’s nearly a year old now — with Steinkuhler in there. That luxury is gone. Randle, more than likely, is going to have to hang in for significant snaps when the Huskers aren’t dropping defensive ends Cameron Meredith and Jason Ankrah down to defensive tackle.
“Muddle through” is probably right. You probably won’t see a ton of plays made from the defensive tackle spot on Saturday, but if they can eat up blocks — something Steinkuhler was very good at — Nebraska could survive with its back seven. Those guys were instrumental in stopping the run the first time out.
BADGERS HEALING >>> Wisconsin got some good news on Monday.
According to Madison.com, starting wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, right guard Kyle Costigan, and linebacker Chris Borland are all expected to return to practice on Tuesday and be available for this week’s game.
Wisconsin will also have three key pieces of its defense back in defensive linemen Brendan Kelly and Pat Muldoon as well as safety Shelton Johnson. None of those players played in the first game against Nebraska where the Badgers allowed a season-high 444 yards on defense.
THE EXPERIENCE ANGLE >>> Bo Pelini spent most of Monday downplaying the fact that much of his roster has already played in two conference title games, losing in Dallas in the 2009 and 2010 Big 12 title games.
Bret Bielema is taking the opposite approach. He’s playing up the Badgers’ trip to Indianapolis last year as valuable experience:
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.”
Personally, I prefer Pelini’s “meh” approach.