Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said Tuesday that Wisconsin, and its reputation for power football, is a reflection of the man in charge – seventh-year head coach Bret Bielema.
“They’re well-coached and they’re committed to running the football,” Pelini said on the Big Ten teleconference. “Bret, his personality … tough guy, was a tough, physical football player. And it’s kind of his philosophy.
“A lot of times your football team becomes a product of who their head coach is, his personality, and I think you see that in Wisconsin. It’s what they were under Coach (Barry) Alvarez and it’s continued under Coach Bielema.”
Bielema has led the Badgers to back-to-back Rose Bowls. Despite drastic changes to his staff, including both coordinators, Pelini said Bielema will bring a similar team to Memorial Stadium for a 7 p.m. game Saturday.
“There’s a lot of carryover with what they’re doing, and how they try to establish the run,” Pelini said. “Probably the biggest difference is obviously you take (quarterback) Russell Wilson out of there. Any time you lose a great player – a guy starting in the NFL – there’s going to be some differences there. But I see a lot of similarities.”
Some other Pelini comments from Tuesday:
>> On Wisconsin freshman quarterback Joel Stave, who will start his first career game Saturday night: “He’s a big, strong-armed guy. I thought he played well the other day (vs. Texas-El Paso). And I think he’s just going to keep getting better as he gets more experience.”
>> Pelini said he had no opinion on the Big Ten after the nonconference season: “It’s early in the year, and there’s a lot of football to be played. Who you are in September and who you become as the season goes on are two different things.”
>> Pelini said the injury to Rex Burkhead allowed the Huskers’ backup I-backs to get more snaps and experience: “But I had a lot of confidence in our backs going in. I like our stable of running backs a lot.”