MADISON - There's a number of firsts about to be had when Wisconsin plays Michigan State Saturday night in Indianapolis.
It's the first time the Badgers will play in the Big Ten championship - - it's the first time there will be a Big Ten championship for that matter - - it's the first time the Badgers will play in the month of December, other than a bowl game, under Bret Bielema.
It's the first time anybody on the current UW roster not named Nate Tice will play the same team for a second time in a given season and it's the first time all of them will play in a dome setting.
So, knowing he didn't know what to expect in such a setting, Bielema spent some time talking with someone who did.
"I talked to Jim Sorgi," Bielema said, in reference to the former UW quarterback. "He said the first time going one way has some low suites that you need to be aware of. He said it was unusual the first time you see it."
Additionally, Sorgi made it a point to make sure the UW players are hydrated especially well. Though Lucas Oil Stadium will be climate controlled and a mostly comfortable temperature setting, there tends to be some humidity in the air.
"This time of year a lot of guys don't think about hydration," Bielema said. "Playing in a dome makes it a big, big deal."
Junior center Peter Konz, who has missed each of UW's past two games after suffering a sprained ankle at Minnesota, has been participating in a limited role throughout much of the week.
According to Bielema, Konz will participate in Friday's practice from Lucas Oil Stadium, but no decision in regards to him playing will be made until at least then.
"Friday, for us and especially on offense, is full go," Bielema said. "We back off on the pads, but it's full movement and moving and everything. We'll make kind of a decision from there."
Konz said early in the week he was hoping to progress enough throughout the course of the week so that he could find a way to participate in Saturday's game.
Chryst a hot commodity again:
A piece in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier this week indicated how the University of Illinois may have sent an airplane to Madison with someone inside, presumably its athletic director, to talk about its head coaching vacancy with Paul Chryst.
Various reports, however, indicate Chryst has not talked with any representative about Illinois. At least at this juncture.
"I've had to deal with it for the last six years," Bielema said. "It's a positive thing for Paul. There are people legitimately interested. The one thing I know about Paul is he's all about this Saturday.
"Next week, professionally, if he's got to do some things he and I have already discussed (it)."
Chryst will be flying to Arkansas next week as he's a finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nations top assistant coach.
"Just like I did with Dave Doeren last year," Bielema said. "If somebody has got an opportunity I'll back them 110 percent just to try and get them their opportunity."
Big week for Oglesby:
Senior right tackle Josh Oglesby was named first-team All-Big Ten earlier this week for his play this season. According to Bielema, that isn't a surprising result.
"He's very gifted," Bielema said. "He's had so many unfortunate breaks form an injury standpoint. I thought he'd come back and play really, really tough. Only he knows how much pain he's in, but he's battled through.
"There just aren't a lot of Josh Oglesby's walking around this earth. Guys that are that big, that athletic and that powerful. I think he's truly going to get rewarded for his play."
A contingency plan:
If there's been one constant on the negative side of things this season for the UW football team it's been consistently inconsistent special teams play. Just last week senior kicker Philip Welch blasted a kickoff out of bounds.
Should that continue to happen, what would Bielema opt to do?
"Last week he was doing an 11-step approach," Bielema said. "Then he went to the five-step and got under control. That's what we'll do again this week. After he did that we didn't have any problems."
"He's long. I remember having him on campus here. I saw him when he was a sophomore and he was pretty (strong) then. He's very long which makes him very difficult to defend because he can get leverage on so many different things. He's very athletic and he plays hard. They're very well coached. All those things add up."