We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the Landof10.com as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know – Monday through Friday – around the world of Wisconsin sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, hockey or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.
Today is Friday, Oct. 28, and this is your Wisconsin Wake-Up Call.
Where’s the buzz?
Two weeks ago, the excitement in and around Madison and the University of Wisconsin campus was at an all-time high as the Badgers prepared to take on No. 2 Ohio State. Whether it was because Wisconsin was playing a perennial powerhouse like the Buckeyes, or because it was the first Big Ten night game in five years and ESPN’s College GameDay was in town, everything around the day just felt special.
That hasn’t been the case this week as the Badgers get ready for another game under the lights, this time against No. 7 Nebraska.
You can take a guess as to why that is — it’s the second night game in three weeks, Nebraska doesn’t hold the same appeal as Ohio State, the Badgers are nearly double-digit favorites and it’s Halloween weekend — and it makes sense on some level.
All of this isn’t to say that the atmosphere for the game won’t be intense or playing in Camp Randall Stadium isn’t going to be a significant advantage for Wisconsin, but it does feel different in the community.
Now for the people that actually matter, the players and coaches, it’s still business as usual. There has been zero indication that the players are emotionally spent after facing four top-10 teams in the first seven games, and this week hasn’t felt different than any other when speaking with them.
Plus, a fun one! https://t.co/YZ31deeica
— Wisconsin On BTN (@WisconsinOnBTN) October 26, 2016
“Just taking it one game at a time, in all honesty,” linebacker T.J. Watt told the Big Ten Network. “I know it sounds cliche but you have to take it one practice at a time, one play at a time and then once it’s game day you just have to let loose.
“Have fun with this. Not everyone gets to play in big games like this week in and week out like we do. So we just have to have fun and showcase our talents each week.”
Meanwhile, down in Lincoln, it appears there is a different feel among the Huskers this week as well.
“LINCOLN, Neb. — Usually, Mike Riley’s team is pretty even-keeled.
But this week? This week, there’s something different going on with Riley’s team.
And Thursday, Riley said there was a sense in the locker room that this game against No. 11 Wisconsin means more.
“There might be a little more buzz,” Riley said of his locker room.
And there will be plenty of buzz inside the 99-year-old stadium on Saturday night. It just may not be the same level of buzz that a national audience saw two weeks ago.
Some good news
With as much bad news as Wisconsin has gotten on the injury front this year, it finally got some of the good variety on Thursday. After being listed as questionable with a leg injury in the preliminary injury report earlier in the week, cornerback Derrick Tindal was nowhere to be found on the updated list.
Injury report for today. Derrick Tindal will play against Nebraska. pic.twitter.com/ke8Kyyu90i
— Jason Galloway (@Jason_Galloway) October 27, 2016
Playing as well as anyone in Wisconsin’s secondary, Tindal’s presence is a significant development as the Badgers look to slow Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. and his array of weapons.
Injuries have been a nagging topic of conversation this year, especially with guys such as starting inside linebackers Jake Cichy and Chris Orr being lost for the season. Some have said they can’t remember another year where injuries have hit the Badgers so hard, impacting a team that still has College Football Playoff aspirations. In reality, though, this year isn’t that much different than 2015.
Obviously been a tough year on the injury front for UW, but it's not that much different from last year at this time. pic.twitter.com/HJt9PvKQ96
— Zach Heilprin (@ZachHeilprin) October 27, 2016
A lot of it is forgetfulness. At this point last season the Badgers had just beaten Illinois, 24-13, and the injury report afterward saw them missing preferred starters at quarterback, tailback, wide receiver, tight end, center, defensive end and inside linebacker. That’s a sobering thought, and one that should give those lamenting the injuries this year a little better perspective.
You can’t control injuries; they are usually going to come one way or the other. The best teams don’t use them as excuses and just plug the next guy in. Wisconsin has been as good as anyone in the country at doing that the last two seasons.
Abbrederis out in Green Bay
It felt like just a matter of time before former Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis’ stint with the Green Bay Packers would come to an end, and that time came on Thursday, when the team agreed to an injury settlement with the third-year pro and released him.
The #Packers have negotiated an injury settlement with WR Jared Abbrederis. He will be subject to waivers. His career as a Packer is over.
— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) October 27, 2016
Abbrederis has struggled to stay healthy since leaving Madison after a stellar career that left him in the top-5 of nearly every all-time receiving record in program history. He tore the ACL in his right knee in training camp his rookie year, while the concussion issues he faced while at Wisconsin resurfaced in training camp in 2015, keeping him out for almost a month. But outside of a four-catch, 55-yard performance against Arizona in the playoffs last January, he’s had trouble cracking into the lineup even when healthy.
Jared Abbrederis was the Packers' only skill-position player who didn't get a snap on offense in Sunday night's win pic.twitter.com/atbQWapoNu
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) October 10, 2016
The curious thing about his inability to get on the field is that quarterback Aaron Rodgers and coach Mike McCarthy praised him at every turn. Now some of that is just giving the politically correct answer to a tough question, but the 25-year-old showed flashes of what made him special as a former walk-on at Wisconsin. The pressure of playing in the same state that you went to college didn’t help matters.
Still, this shouldn’t be the end of his career. When he’s fully healthy, which should be within the next month, he’ll get a fresh start somewhere else, something he deserves and is more than talented enough to take advantage of.
Another big recruiting weekend
Two weeks ago, when the Badgers played Ohio State, Wisconsin hosted four prospects in the class of 2017, and got a commitment from 3-star cornerback Faion Hicks from Flanagan (Hollywood, Fla) High School.
Greg Gard and the Wisconsin basketball program got in on the action, too, with at least six top prospects coming on visits for what turned out to be an electric environment. But there are rumblings that this weekend could be even bigger, especially on the football side of things.
— Brad Davison (@braddavi34) October 16, 2016
Although only two official visits — safety Scott Nelson from Detroit Jesuit High School and cornerback Christian Cumber from Mullen (Denver) High School — have been announced, according to the 247Sports.com database, it’s expected that as many as six could be in Madison on Saturday.
Opportunities like the one Wisconsin’s coaching staff will be presented with normally come once a year, if you’re lucky. To get two prime-time games, at home against top-10 opponents in a three-week period, is extremely rare, and the staff can’t ask for anything more. Now they just have to take advantage of it on and off the field.
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