News and notes surrounding the Big Ten Championship Game:
- Wisconsin may be the healthiest it's been all season come Saturday's Big Ten Championship Game. Starting linebacker and third-leading tackler Chris Borland is expected to return after missing the past two games with a hamstring injury. He's also the team's leader with 4.5 sacks this season. Unclear, though, is whether leading wideout Jared Abbrederis will play on Saturday. Abbrederis has the fourth-most receiving yards in the Big Ten (764) but had to come out of last weekend's game against Penn State with an apparent head injury. Coach Bret Bielema didn't directly address the wide receiver's status but said he'd received, “very, very, good reports,” regarding all of his players, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
- Nebraska RB Rex Burkhead rushed for 69 yards -- all in the second half -- in last Friday's win over Iowa and said that he'd be available for Saturday's game however much coach Bo Pelini wanted to use him. Burkhead missed the previous four games with a knee sprain that's lingered throughout the year but he gave the Huskers' offense an immediate jolt once he got in. “I had no clue until the second half once I saw him going out in the huddle,” QB Taylor Martinez said to the Indianapolis Star. “I got all excited just knowing that he's back. You know he's going to give 110 percent every time and really spark our offense.” Burkhead scored the go-ahead touchdown last weekend and the Huskers held on to clinch the Legends Division.
- Martinez was named the All-Big Ten first team quarterback Monday night, as voted on by the coaches. He beat out Braxton Miller, whose Ohio State team racked up 63 points in a win over the Huskers earlier this season. The two have comparable numbers when you examine their passing and rushing totals but the vote was surprising given that Miller won the Greise-Brees award given to the top quarterback in the conference. An even bigger snub was likely Huskers DB Ciante Evans, who only garnered honorable mention from the Big Ten coaches despite being arguably the best defensive back in the nation's top pass coverage. “If you watch film, there's probably not a better defensive back in the league, I promise you,” Pelini said to the Lincoln Journal Star.
- The first meeting between these two teams saw Wisconsin miss a field goal and an extra point as the Badgers lost 30-27 in Nebraska. Kicker Kyle French and the Badgers are coming off consecutive OT losses where he missed one field-goal attempt in each game. Special teams coach Charlie Partridge said he's still confident in French's kicking abilities even though he hasn't made a field goal since Nov. 10 vs. Indiana. “I believe in his overall performance,” Partridge said to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Obviously he's disappointed. I am disappointed for him because he's a good kicker.” Lucas Oil Stadium, an indoor facility that houses the Indianapolis Colts, will provide an ideal setting for kickers.
For more title game coverage, follow Mike Singer and Dave Carey @CBSSportsBigTen.