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Alvarez said he “stole” from Nebraska the idea for a walk-on program.

“Having been the only Division I school in the state, as Nebraska is, I really felt there were a lot of players who were borderline _ guys you’re not ready to pull the trigger on who we would actively recruit,” Alvarez said. “Quite frankly, they’ve been our saviors. I call them our `erasers.’ They make up for any mistakes you make in recruiting.”

Wisconsin players who joined the team as walk-ons and are now starters are Wagner, fullback Bradie Ewing, receiver Jared Abbrederis, defensive tackle Ethan Hemer and linebacker Ethan Armstrong.

Nebraska’s walk-on starters are Caputo, Choi and Long, fullback Tyler Legate and safety Austin Cassidy.

Saturday night’s game will be only the sixth between the schools and the first since 1974. Nebraska has won three of the five, but Wisconsin won the most recent meeting 21-20 in Madison.

Alvarez made two tackles and returned an interception 25 yards in the 1966 game, a 31-3 Nebraska win in Madison. Bielema asked Alvarez to be the Badgers’ honorary captain Saturday.

Alvarez said it’s the most anticipated game ever at Camp Randall Stadium, bigger than last year’s win over then-No. 1 Ohio State and probably even the 1962 game against rival Minnesota, which was the last time two teams ranked in the top 10 played in Madison.

“I can’t say there’s ever been any with more anticipation over a long period of time,” he said. “You look forward to a Rose Bowl, but you have three weeks of anticipation, but this has been like a year.”