In the recent history of Nebraska football, the Huskers have played the same team twice in the same season just three times.
But while it might be unique that Nebraska-Wisconsin on Saturday night is a rematch of a Sept. 29 game, it draws little more than a shrug from Huskers coach Bo Pelini.
“I coached in the NFL for nine years, and you play your division opponents twice a year,” Pelini said Friday. “So I have experience with it.”
Nebraska appeared in six Big 12 championship games between 1996 and 2010, but just once faced a team that it played in the regular season. That came in 1999, when NU lost 24-20 to Texas in Austin, then beat the Longhorns 22-6 in the Big 12 final in San Antonio.
Nebraska also played regular-season opponents again in bowl games in 2010 (Washington, Holiday) and 1978 (Oklahoma, Orange). In both instances, the Huskers won the first and lost the second.
There have been nine weeks between the NU-UW matchups this season, so Pelini said both teams are quite a bit different heading into the Big Ten championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. What Nebraska will expect Saturday night are some new wrinkles and formations, but that’s normal with watching any team after you’ve studied them on film.
“You’ve got to be prepared for whatever they throw at you,” Pelini said. “Both teams are going to have to make adjustments along the way. The players are going to have to make adjustments along the way, and it’s going to come down to who executes the best.”
The Badgers also have a new quarterback for the rematch. Redshirt freshman Joel Stave, who started against NU in September, is out for the season and has been replaced by fifth-year senior Curt Phillips.
“Their offense doesn’t change much,” Pelini said. “I think they’ve shown that they’re not afraid to run him, and that adds a little bit different dimension to what they do. But at the end of the day they’re going to run their offense and be committed to what they do.”