MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Badgers (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten) are getting a little healthier as they prepare to take on the No. 14 Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-2, 7-1) in the Big Ten Championship Game.
Linebacker Chris Borland appears set to return to action after missing the last two weeks, and head coach Bret Bielema said other players who left in the middle of the team's 24-21 loss to Penn State should be good to go in their rematch with Nebraska. Bielema said in his weekly press conference that Jared Abbrederis and Kyle Costigan had "very good reports this morning," and they should be able to practice with the team this week.
"[They] should be limited tomorrow," Bielema said. "We'll probably have them in non-contact. Chris Borland will go through practice tomorrow, at least against our scouts simulating Nebraska. Those guys will be back."
Bielema said Costigan hurt his leg against Penn State, but also had some negative effects from what the coaching staff thought was a minor concussion. Bielema said Costigan has been cleared to practice this week.
"I don't know if it was a full-scale concussion, but he was a little foggy about some things on the sideline," Bielema said.
The Badgers will also have a few players back who didn't get to play in Wisconsin's 30-27 loss to Nebraska earlier in the season. Defensive ends Pat Muldoon and Brendan Kelly both missed the game in Lincoln, as did strong safety Shelton Johnson. All three are healthy now, and are expected to play significant roles in the game.
Bielema also said Borland should be a little healthier for this second round with Nebraska than he was for the first game, where he had nine tackles including one for loss. Bielema said Borland was originally going to miss the Nebraska game with a leg injury, but changed his mind just before kickoff and started the game.
"[Borland] hadn't practiced all that week and obviously went out there and played," Bielema said. "He sucked it up, but I think even though he's coming off an injury I think he'll be a lot better prepared than he was in the last meeting we had."
And while Devin Smith, Ethan Armstrong, and David Gilbert all played against Nebraska this season, none of them were able to play in last year's Big Ten Championship Game against Michigan State, which the Badgers won 42-39. It'll be a new experience for them, but Bielema said he told the team that their task would be same, no matter if their players and their record have been dinged up along the way this season.
"I told our guys 'you're a 7-5 team going in to Indianapolis," Bielema said. "Even if you were 8-4, 9-3, 10-2, 11-1, or 12-0, you'd have to do the exact same thing that you have to this weekend; which is play Nebraska for the opportunity to go to the Rose Bowl.
"There are 10 other teams in the league that would love to be in our position, and to have to opportunity is something we're going to cherish."