LINCOLN, Neb. - When Nebraska squared off against Wisconsin earlier in the 2012 season, defensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler was critical in shutting down the Badgers' running game.
Steinkuhler won't be available against Wisconsin this time around, after injuring his knee against Iowa in Nebraska's last regular season game.
Defensive coordinator John Papuchis said it won't be just one defensive tackle that replaces Steinkuhler, but sophomore Chase Rome is expected to be the guy who gets the most snaps because of the injury.
"The past couple games, with Cam (Meredith) and Baker starting, I never knew when I was going to be in the game. Which was sort of a benefit, because it taught me to be ready all the time," said Rome, who won't put any extra pressure on himself to fill Steinkuhler's shoes. "You can't feel that way. That's when you screw everything up. I feel for him, it sucks that he's out, but at the same time you treat this like any other game you play.
"I think I just need to go out and do my job. I don't want to play outside of the defense or try to be selfish and make plays. I want to be a play-maker, but you don't want to be selfish, that costs you eventually. I'm going to play my heart out and lead some of the other guys with Baker out."
Rome's season has been an unusual one. Appearing in nine games, the Missouri native has 16 tackles on the year.
In early September, Rome left the team for nearly a week. At the time it wasn't a forgone conclusion he would be back, with Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini telling reporters Rome's "personal goals and personal perception of where he should be on this football team doesn't match the team goals."
When he returned, he not only had to talk to the Nebraska coaching staff, but a group of peers as well.
"I spoke to the unity council and after that, it was just history, water under the bridge," said Rome. "I brought it upon myself, but I was excited that my in-and-out everyday guys were able to move on. It's over now...You end up growing through it. It wasn't right of me, but at the same time if that's what it took to grow to where I'm at, so be it. God has a plan for everything."
Rome's also grown from his time on the field.
"I think when you first get here and you are freshman and you're used to shooting gaps and running up field, you try to do that here and get wheeled up field and the ball is gashed for 10 to 12 yards," said the sophomore. "It's different in college, a different system. If you are trying to just glorify yourself, you're screwing everyone else.
"I have played more football, there is no substitute for that. There is no substitute for experience. I'm no where near perfect or great or anything, but the more you see the easier things get."