One of the more intriguing questions entering this year's Big Ten Football Championship game is whether or not experience will matter or make any difference on behalf of the Badgers? On the one hand Wisconsin has been there before, on the other hand for some of the Huskers upperclassmen this isn't their first rodeo in a championship game experience, having played in two straight Big XII championship games before moving to the Big Ten last season.
The thought of playing in Indy for a 2nd straight year over an opponent that hasn't seen the inside of Lucas Oil Stadium is something that Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema clearly plans on using with his players this week.
"I know our kids really hadn't thought about it much, but one of the things I took them to on Sunday was the advantage we would have by being in this environment already," said Bielema at his Monday press conference. "It's a really unique experience, more so than any other game I'd ever been involved with, bowl games or anything, just all the different little things that you have to be engaged in, in addition to playing in Lucas Oil Stadium. It's a very different stadium."
In fact Lucas Oil Stadium presents some very interesting challenges as far as what players see and experience, something that Bielema revealed he had a heads up on last season thanks to a former Badger, Jim Sorgi.
"in the one end zone, you have a lower suite level area that players are standing in the background, and Jim Sorgi was one of the first ones to reach out to me and say, hey, you want to point these things out," said Bielema. "It's a unique thing."
"Sorgi made the point that, when it's a Colts game, half the people or three quarters of the people in that suite have on Colts jerseys, and it looks like there are 70 defenders on the field, and it was very real," continued Bielema. "I don't know how big of a factor it had, but it's something your kids don't see every day."
What about the opposition? Nebraska has never seen the inside of Lucas Oil Stadium in person and then there's the fact that in their previous two title game appearances didn't exactly end as they would've hoped, losing both of them. However, head coach Bo Pelini hopes his team takes something away from those results and uses it for motivation.
"I hope so, we've been in this situation before. We've come up short in the other two. Two really good football games, but we weren't able to pull it out in the end. It's going to come down to whoever executes better that will win on Saturday."
Some fans around the country and in Big Ten country have also voiced their thoughts that the Badgers team isn't deserving of being in the championship game. Try telling that to Nebraska's Bo Pelini.
"I really don't care what people say about Wisconsin deserving to be there, because they deserve to be there," said Pelini. "Last I looked in college football, you know, they're not there for a reason. That's not to take anything away from Urban Meyer or the kids who played at Ohio State who played their tails off, but there's a reason they aren't there."
He's got his players believing in that as well, at least you'd think so listening to senior linebacker Will Compton, who also doesn't buy into the Badgers not deserving to be in this game.
“They’re a better team than what they’re record says," said Compton. "They’re a well-coached football team. They can hurt you a lot of different ways. You’ve got to come out ready to go.”
As for what the Badgers think of that talk? Well this team is taking a different approach, with Bielema pointing out their record doesn't matter at all at this point, they still would have to play this game to get to their goal – the Rose Bowl.
"I told our guys, hey, you're a 7-5 team going to Indianapolis," said Bielema. "If you were 8-5, 11-1, 12-0, you would still have to do the exact same thing you have to do this weekend, which is play Nebraska for an opportunity to go to the Rose Bowl."