LINCOLN — Nebraska I-back Rex Burkhead should start Saturday if he's physically ready, coach Bo Pelini said Monday.
Burkhead, who returned against Iowa after missing more than five games, is all for it.
“No swelling, no soreness after,” Burkhead said of the left knee that he's strained several times this year. “Feeling good. Positive signs after the game.”
Offensive coordinator Tim Beck said he hadn't yet decided how he'd divvy up carries among Burkhead, Ameer Abdullah and Braylon Heard.
Mark Pelini, Pensick could both play
Beck said Mark Pelini and Cole Pensick could both play at center Saturday. Regular center Justin Jackson is out with an ankle injury.
“We rotate those guys pretty thoroughly, even when Justin was going,” Beck said. “We do sub our guys quite a bit. It's hard to have a guy play 70 or 80 plays in a ballgame. Sometimes they do have a couple breaks here and there.”
Beck said Pelini, who saw the most extensive action of his career at Iowa, “held his own” against the Hawkeyes.
“He did some really nice things in that kind of fray, in that kind of ballgame, a pressure-packed, can't-make-a-mistake type football game on the road,” Beck said. “He did an outstanding job for us.”
Beck: Dome could help Nebraska offense
You'll hear no complaints from Nebraska coaches or players about staging Saturday's game inside Lucas Oil Stadium instead of an outdoor venue. Beck said the dome setting and artificial playing surface should help the Huskers' offense get fully untracked.
“Certainly it helps,” Beck said. “You don't want the weather to have any kind of impact on the ballgame. On either side. I'm sure all parties included feel good about that.”
Asked if he would rather have played the title game at Lambeau or Soldier Field, linebacker Will Compton said: “Lambeau and Solider Field already reminds me of the weather from last Friday, so I'd rather play in the dome.”
NU played in the cold and wind at Kinnick Stadium in a 13-7 win over Iowa.
Compton: Steinkuhler 'still a leader'
Senior Will Compton said he's told Baker Steinkuhler, out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury, that the team still needs contributions from its veteran defensive tackle.
Steinkuhler can't contribute on the field, but his presence and input is still valuable, according to Compton.
The two talked about that during Nebraska's trip home from Iowa on Friday. They watched the win on film before landing, too. Compton said he texted Steinkuhler on Saturday.
“He's still a leader even if he's not wearing the pads with us,” Compton said.
Steinkuhler, a senior, recorded 47 total tackles and 2Ĺ sacks, starting all 12 contests and playing the majority of snaps in conference play before leaving Friday's game in the first half.
Wisconsin receives 'great' injury news
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said at his weekly press conference there was “great news today” on several injured Badgers, with good reports coming from the medical staff specifically on receiver Jared Abbrederis (concussion) and offensive lineman Kyle Costigan (knee).
Bielema said the two likely will be held out of contact the first few days of the week.
Wisconsin also is expecting linebacker Chris Borland (hamstring) to play against Nebraska. Bielema said Borland will return to practice Tuesday after missing the past two games.
Borland was fighting an MCL sprain in his right knee the week before the first NU game, but still played and finished with nine tackles and two fumble recoveries.
“I did a good enough job in rehab and felt ready to go, and I don't think it affected my performance,” Borland said of the Sept. 29 game.
— Sam McKewon, Jon Nyatawa and Rick Kaipust
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