Tickets are available for Badger game
MADISON After Northern Illinois and Iowa agreed to open the 2007 season at Soldier Field in Chicago, fans from both schools snapped up tickets and the game was played in front of a sellout crowd of 61,500.
Wisconsin’s nonconference game against the Huskies, set for 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Soldier Field, likely won’t come close to that figure.
As of Monday, Northern Illinois officials were expecting a crowd of about 40,000.
“I’m excited to travel,” UW coach Bret Bielema said Monday during his weekly news conference. “I think we’ve really tried to emphasize to our guys to go on the road is a unique preparation...kind of an unusual situation going into Soldier Field.
“Don’t really know where the fan base is going to be. I think we’ll be well-represented.”
According to Bielema, UW sold more than 11,000 tickets for the game. It is unclear how many UW fans purchased tickets through Ticketmaster (800 745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com).
The cost of tickets—$90, $75 and $60—appears to be a major sticking point.
“I think the thing that is different…is that the prices have changed significantly,” Bielema said, referring to the prices of the Iowa-Northern Illinois game. “I think that may have as big a factor as anything.”
According to a Northern Illinois release, tickets for that game were advertised at $55.50 and $44.40.
n Wisconsin senior cornerback Devin Smith will miss the rest of the regular season because of a left-foot injury he suffered last week against Oregon State.
“I’m sure we’re higher-ranked than Iowa was at that time and I’m sure Northern Illinois is probably a little better ballclub than that year,” Bielema said.
His guess was on the mark.
Iowa and Northern Illinois both entered 2007 unranked. The Hawkeyes finished 6-7 in 2006 and Northern Illinois finished 7-6.
The Huskies finished 11-2 last season and are led by rookie coach Dave Doeren, who was a UW assistant from 2006 through last season.
“It probably gets down to the finances,” Bielema said, “and what people can afford or not afford.”
The game will not be seen on TV, either. Instead, it will be broadcast on ESPN3.com, the network’s online streaming service.
The Mid-American Conference and ESPN in 2009 agreed to an eight-year deal to showcase MAC football and men’s and women’s basketball games.
ESPN has other college football games scheduled to be seen on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU on Saturday. The UW-Northern Illinois game is one of seven scheduled for ESPN3.com that day.
Because ESPN controls the broadcast rights to the game and it is a MAC home game, the Big Ten Network will not be able to carry it.
In short, fans interested in seeing UW play will have to buy a ticket or watch the game on ESPN3.com.
Linebacker Kevin Claxton (wrist) should return to practice this week.
Kicker Philip Welch (quadriceps) is out. “Hopefully we can get him back in the next week or two,” Bielema said.
Left guard Travis Frederick (knee) is expected back. The Walworth Big Foot High graduate missed last week’s game.
Freshman cornerback Devin Gaulden (stress fracture in leg) has begun practicing and still wants to play this season.
-- Freshman Sam Arneson, who made his debut against Oregon State, is now UW’s fourth tight end. Redshirt freshman Sherard Cadogan, who missed time in camp with a variety of injuries, will be used at fullback.
-- UW’s Sept. 24 home game against South Dakota is to start at 2:30 p.m. and will be televised by the Big Ten Network.
-- Junior linebacker Mike Taylor on Monday was named the Big Ten Conference defensive player of the week for his play in the Badgers’ 35-0 victory over Oregon State. Taylor recorded a sack, 1½ tackles for a loss, a forced fumble and a college-high nine tackles.