1. When the Baker's away
If you made a list of players Nebraska fans wouldn't want out with injury in a game like this, No. 55 has to rank near the top. But the show goes on without Baker Steinkuhler, who owned the Badgers in the first matchup. Now it's on the shoulders of Chase Rome, Cameron Meredith and Thad Randle to step up and beat back a bunch of 300-plus-pound giants on Wisconsin's offensive line. Nebraska held Wisconsin to just 56 yards rushing in the first game. But that was another time. The Badgers have averaged 309 rushing yards in their last three games. No need to overanalyze it: The Badgers will line up and try to stuff the ball down the Huskers' throats with Montee Ball and James White. If Nebraska puts up a wall, the game falls in the hands of Curt Phillips, Wisconsin's third starting quarterback this year. Make it a game hinging on a quarterback's playmaking ability and Nebraska, with its No. 1 pass defense, will sure as heck take its chances.
2. Dome, sweet dome
Taylor Martinez didn't try to disguise his pleasure with the fact he'd be playing indoors Saturday night. "I think it's supposed to be, like, 72 degrees. That's what I heard." Sure beats 12-degree wind chill and 35 mph winds. The weather at Iowa completely took some of Nebraska's best playmakers -- Kenny Bell, Quincy Enunwa and Jamal Turner -- out of the equation. But you know Tim Beck will definitely ring the Bell and put all those guys to good use inside the dome. As Wisconsin found out in the first meeting, that is a lot of weapons to corral. Nebraska's offense will surely move the ball. It almost always moves the ball. Really, the only thing that has tripped up this offense this year is itself. Mostly, the Huskers have gotten away with turnovers and untimely penalties this season. But this is not the time to give the odds a chance to catch up with you.
3. Fresh Rex
No one would have wished the injury-riddled season Rex Burkhead went through. But if there is any blessing, it might appear Saturday night in the form of his fresh legs. Truth is, we might have gotten a taste of it against Iowa. After missing the previous four games, he triumphantly returned, looking closer to 100 percent than anyone could have guessed. While many players are battered from the grind of a full season, Burkhead should have plenty of miles left in his tank. And on a night when Nebraska is starting a new center (either Mark Pelini or Cole Pensick), Burkhead is one of those backs who can help make a lineman look good. You know he's motivated. The senior's year didn't go how he envisioned. But the opportunity is out there to write a pretty memorable final chapter.
4. The allure of the granddaddy
You ever hear someone tell you the Big Ten is overly infatuated with the Rose Bowl? They’re silly. The Big Ten is fully correct to have this love affair. It’s the flippin’ Rose Bowl. It’s the Granddaddy. It’s a Rockwell painting. It’s the game Uncle Paulie worried he couldn’t see when Rocky had to train in Russia. (I don’t know why he was worried. The fight with Drago was on Christmas, but still.) It’s the Rose Bowl. And when you have a chance to punch a ticket to that game, it’s a big deal. This is the opportunity this Husker team has clawed for all season. It hasn’t been pretty. Far from it. But no apology needed if Nebraska players are walking around with roses between their teeth Saturday night. They’ll have done something special. They’ll have helped this program climb a rung on the ladder. A BCS game. A banner. Yes, that banner. It’s strange when you walk into Nebraska’s practice facility right now. There is banner after banner from all these championship years. But then, after 1999, nothing. It’s been so long. Too long, as far as the Huskers are concerned. Now comes the time to do something about it.