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Five things to know about today's Badgers-Cornhuskers game

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Andrew Beaumont
October 1, 2011
— History will be made when Wisconsin and Nebraska kick off their Big Ten contest tonight.

It is the first Big Ten game for Nebraska, which left the Big 12. (Which kind of makes the Big Ten the Big 12 now, doesnít it? I guess thatís a story for another day.)


Itís also the first game in Madison since 1962 to feature two teams ranked in the top 10. In that game, No. 3 Wisconsin defeated No. 5 Minnesota, 14-9.


Itís early, but the way these two teams are playing, donít be surprised to see a rematch in Indianapolis in the inaugural Big Ten title game in November.


Here are a few other tidbits about todayís game:


1. When red isnít red: While fans refer to both teams as Big Red, neither school lists red among its official colors. Wisconsinís colors are cardinal and white, while Nebraska sports scarlet and cream.
2. One for one: There is one player from each state on the other schoolís roster. Wisconsin sophomore kicker Alec Lerner hails from Omaha, Neb. Nebraska long-snapper Joseph Rotherham is a freshman walk-on from Green Bay.
3. Familiar faces: UW coach Bret Bielema spent two years in the Big 12 as co-defensive coordinator and linebacker coach at Kansas State. KSU beat Nebraska 49-13 in í02 and 38-9 in í03.

Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini served as a graduate assistant at Iowa in 1991, when Bielema was a junior defensive lineman for the Hawkeyes.


UW Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez played at Nebraska from 1965-67 for legendary head coach Bob Devaney. Alvarez was the leading tackler for the 1967 Cornhuskers, who led the nation in total defense and created a school-record 40 turnovers.


4. He ainít heavy, heís my lineman: Wisconsin has the fifth heaviest offensive line in college or professional football, according to a report in this weekís Sports Illustrated. Wisconsin is tied with the San Francisco 49ers with an average weight of 322 pounds per player. That includes redshirt sophomore guard Travis Frederick. The Big Foot grad tips the scales at 330 pounds. Nebraskaís line averages 303 pounds.
5. Whatís in a name: We all know Bucky Badger, but did you know the name didnít come from the animal but from lead miners in the 1800s? The miners had no shelter in the Wisconsin winter, so they lived like badgers in tunnels in the hills. The badger became the official UW mascot with the inception of intercollegiate football in 1889.

Before 1900, Nebraska football teams were known as the Old Gold Knights, Antelopes, Rattlesnake Boys and the Bugeaters. Nebraska began playing football in 1890 and didnít have a losing season until 1899. To get rid of that losing taste, Lincoln sportswriter Charles S. (Cy) Sherman, who helped originate The Associated Press Poll, started calling the team the Cornhuskers.



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