Nebraska coach Bo Pelini had seemed certain the past week or so that star tailback Ameer Abdullah would play this week against Wisconsin. He didn't seem so sure Monday.
Abdullah suffered a knee injury in Nebraska's most recent game, a Nov. 1 win over Purdue. Pelini had called the injury minor, but when he was asked Monday during his weekly news conference whether Abdullah would play against the Badgers, he said, "Yeah, but I'm not a doctor."
He also said, "We'll see on Saturday, but I would anticipate him playing."
Abdullah is listed as the starting tailback on the depth chart that Nebraska posted online Monday.
While Abdullah didn't practice last week, Pelini said Monday that he did attend practices and "worked out on the field."
Abdullah is fifth in the nation in rushing yards (1,250) and sixth in rushing yards per game (138.9). He has had four 200-yard games this season, which leads the nation, and has hit the 100-yard mark six times. His 17 rushing TDs are tied for third nationally. He is averaging 6.7 yards per carry and also leads the nation at 187.9 all-purpose yards per game.
Pelini professed confidence in backup tailbacks Imani Cross and Terrell Newby.
"It's not like Ameer's the only running back we have," Pelini said. "He's a great player, and obviously we want a great player, but we've got some other pretty capable running backs."
The Nebraska-Wisconsin game is the most important remaining game in the race for the Big Ten West title, and the Abdullah-Melvin Gordon story line just adds more intrigue. Gordon is the nation's leading rusher at 166.8 yards per game. If Abdullah is less than 100 percent, Nebraska's offense is in trouble. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. is not a strong passer, and while Cross is excellent in the red one, neither he nor Newby is a big-play threat in the same vein as Abdullah.