MADISON-The Wisconsin football team has coined the phrase “Make November a month to remember.”
True statement, considering if No.22 Wisconsin wins its final three games the Badgers will be playing in the Big Ten Championship game for the third time in four years. The quest to continue to make it a month to remember will continue on Saturday against No.11 Nebraska.
“We talk all the time about anybody in the world can start something, whatever that may be,” said UW coach Gary Andersen. “It may be a diet, it might be a new job, it might be a marriage, whatever, that is easy to do. It is hard to sustain it. We’ve gone through that part, and we’ve sustained it pretty well. But the ability to finish is what gives you the opportunity to be elite in athletics and, in my opinion, in life."
If Wisconsin loses one of its last three remaining games, fans and the players will wonder what kind of season it could have been. But being able “to finish” is something Andersen and the coaching staff have tried to drive home all season.
“We harp on that all year and that is where we’re at the last three games,” Andersen said. “So I would hope that they would start to understand that a little bit that this is coming to a close and if they want to be special or be elite, be great, they got to find a way to finish. I think that gets you going a little bit, but it is Nebraska. It’s a big time game, it’s an opportunity for these kids to compete, it is a game on our schedule; kids are kids, they know what is going on.”
Without a win over a ranked opponent this season, Wisconsin journey to become “elite” hinges on beating Nebraska (8-1, 4-1 Big Ten) Saturday. While the schedule may lack top level teams, Andersen believes the variety of teams the Badgers have faced this year is a big benefit.
“There’s some Maryland in them, the way they want to multiple formations, the way they spread the field the way they cause a lot of abnormal situations that you don’t normally see in offensive football,” Andersen said in reference to Nebraska.
“The athletic quarterback as you look back, I think is the most athletic kid we’ve seen at the quarterback spot. It’s very, very multiple and then their ability to jump in and say ‘hey were going to pound the ball at you,’ like South Florida wanted to do, so nobody we’ve faced but different pieces of different teams we’ve faced.”
Dealing with the Weather
With Wisconsin receiving snow flurries this week and winter slowly coming, the Badgers coaching staff held portions of practice outside this week.
“(Thursday’s) practice was an hour and fifteen minutes and we were out there for like 20,” Andersen said. “We were out there Wednesday for seven or eight periods and the day before (Tuesday) the offense took almost all of their reps outside they needed.”
If snow falls this weekend, it would be the second time in three weeks the Badgers will have dealt with inclement weather, as Wisconsin played through a steady rain in its road shutout at Rutgers Nov.1.
“It won’t play a factor at all,” said Andersen. “I think our kids our ready to play in whatever weather that comes our way. I think we’re built to be able to deal with the weather and we know eventually it is going to come our way.”
“I’m proud of them. They have a smile on their face, they know the direction they’re headed and they know the expectation level is to compete when given the opportunity and to perform at a very high level. They’ve done that. They’re in a good spot.”
Extra Points: Andersen is expecting that both redshirt junior Derek Watt and redshirt senior Konrad Zagzebski to play against Nebraska...Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Aidan McNamara (leg injury) is done for the season … Redshirt sophomore tight end Eric Steffes (knee) is also done for the season.