LINCOLN, Neb. — Don’t bother comparing this year’s Nebraska team to any that has traveled to Madison, Wisconsin before. Head coach Mike Riley and his players will just tell you it’s a different team, especially from the team in 2014.
“That was like what? Three years ago or two years ago?” quarterback Tommy Armstrong said. “I’m not really focused on that right now. This is a totally different team than it was in 2014, so there’s nothing to really compare about that. They have different coaches, different players, so you can’t compare that offense to this offense.”
“This is the 2016 Husker team, so we’re going to just get ready to play football against a good football team,” Riley said. “We have to win on the road if we want to be that team that we want to be, and we’ve done that twice and now it’s going to be a bigger, tougher environment, as we all know. And I’ve told the team this, the more you win, the bigger the games get. This will be a great, great game that way.
“But this is our 2016 team, and I’ve loved how we’ve responded and competed, and know that we’ll do that, and it’s just a matter of playing better than them on Saturday night, that’s what it’s going to boil down to. The history of it doesn’t really matter to me.”
Standing in the hallway outside of the Huskers’ usual Monday press conference, wide receiver De’Mornay Pierson-El echoed the sentiments of his coach and teammates.
“It burned a little bit [to lose] but we had to move on to the next one,” Pierson-El said. “It’s a different year, different team. Back with a vengeance hopefully.”
While Pierson-El sees the 2016 team very differently, he still understands the impact that Camp Randall can have on a visiting team. He specifically mentioned Wisconsin’s tradition of ‘Jump Around,’ which is played between the third and fourth quarters.
“Camp Randall is a high place,” Pierson-El said. “The fans get a little crazy there. It’s going to be a fun game. When I went there last time, the situation wasn’t the end result [we wanted] but it was a fun environment.”
Will the Huskers prepare any differently this year than they have in the past for Wisconsin? Safety Kieron Williams doesn’t think so. At least not from a confidence standpoint, that is.
“I don’t think there’s really a difference,” Williams said. “I can kind of remember my freshman year, we were really confident going into that game. If I can remember right, we were up at the beginning of that game and we had turnovers and they fumbled a few times, so we were confident. We just kind of lost it as far as our game plan went. As far as our mindsets, we were just as confident then as we are now.”
And for a team trying to prove it deserves to be a part of the national conversation, there’s no better time.
“This team actually needs something like this,” Armstrong said. “We’re ready for it.”
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.