LINCOLN, Neb. — Maybe a little trash talking isn’t such a bad thing, after all.
University of Wisconsin junior defensive lineman David Gilbert did not start the game against Nebraska on Saturday night, as promised by Badgers coach Bret Bielema.
The decision was due to unflattering comments Gilbert made during the week about Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez. Gilbert said Martinez threw like he was skipping rocks and also labeled him as “soft.”
Gilbert sat out the first two plays, while sophomore Konrad Zagzebski got his first start.
On Nebraska’s first third-down play, Gilbert entered the game as part of UW’s nickel defense.
Gilbert wasn’t on the field for the only play of Nebraska’s second drive, which included a lost fumble by running back Rex Burkhead.
After that, Gilbert took part in his normal rotation.
Martinez, meanwhile, who apparently had much to prove, got off to a shaky start. He fumbled the snap on his first play.
His first pass, on third down, was not close to an intended open receiver. Martinez also fumbled on another run. He recovered the ball.
The first time Gilbert and Martinez interacted came late in the first quarter.
Martinez got rid of a pass and Gilbert pushed him to the ground late — but no penalty was called.
Gilbert made his presence felt early in the third quarter. He beat tackle Brent Qvale for a sack of Martinez, who fumbled. Linebacker Chris Borland recovered at the Nebraska 13 and Montee Ball followed with a 2-yard scoring run to put the Badgers up 27-10.
Costigan banged up
Sophomore right guard Kyle Costigan, making his second start, suffered an apparent injury to his right knee in the first quarter, but later returned.
Costigan limped off the field on a run by Ball that was initially ruled a touchdown, but overturned by replay.
Bielema was set to order a field goal attempt, but after a prolonged review by the booth, elected to go for it on fourth down.
Junior Zac Matthias, who replaced Costigan, pulled and Ball followed him through left guard for a 1-yard scoring run.
Agree to disagree
Nebraska fans are famous for applauding the opposition as it leaves the field, even if the home team loses.
Bielema made two trips to Memorial Stadium as an assistant coach, losing 42-13 while at Iowa (2000) and winning 39-8 while at Kansas State (2003).
During the Big Ten’s media days in Chicago prior to the start of the season, Bielema was asked by a Nebraska media member about the atmosphere at Memorial Stadium.
“You can’t replace history,” Bielema said. “You’re playing against a group of young men on the other sideline, but that stadium knows their history.”
Bielema then disputed the notion Cornhuskers fans are always hospitable to opposing teams.
“Everybody loves to say how nice you guys are, applaud everybody when you’re leaving the field,” Bielema said. “Well, you win the game, they don’t applaud you.
“It’s a whole different experience.”
Rush streak comes to end
The Badgers came into the game as one of three defenses nationally that had not allowed a run of 20 yards or longer this season, along with Texas Tech and Connecticut.
The long run allowed by UW in the first four games was a 17-yard scramble last week by UTEP quarterback Nick Lamaison.
That stretch ended in the second quarter when Martinez gained 20 yards on a quarterback draw, which helped set up Nebraska’s first touchdown. The Cornhuskers came in with 15 runs of 20 or more yards this season.
Injured defensive ends Brendan Kelly (hamstring) and Pat Muldoon (broken hand) did not make the trip. ... The crowd of 85,962 was the fifth-largest in Memorial Stadium history. ... According to an ABC television pregame report, Borland had a knee injury. He played the game with a sleeve on his right knee.