LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Will Compton has been with Bo Pelini for all the ups and downs in the Nebraska football program the past five years.
No one in the Cornhuskers' camp wants a Big Ten championship more than the middle linebacker from Bonne Terre, Mo.
Compton, like his teammates, says all he's concerned with is Friday's game at Iowa (4-7, 2-5 Big Ten). He and everybody around him see the big picture, though.
A win secures the 17th-ranked Huskers' spot in the Big Ten title game against Wisconsin and a chance to play for the school's first conference championship since 1999. A loss would leave the Huskers (10-2, 6-1) needing Ohio State to beat Michigan on Saturday in order to play in Indianapolis on Dec. 1.
For Compton, if there is to be satisfying closure to his career, there is no alternative but to win a championship.
"Without a doubt," he said. "I've never won a championship, even in high school or anything like that. Especially the seniors, we want to get this one. We've went through so much together. It would be a disappointment if we didn't win out and get ourselves a championship."
Compton arguably is more heavily invested than any of the 29 seniors.
He originally pledged to former coach Bill Callahan. When Callahan was fired, Compton gave second looks to Missouri, Illinois and Notre Dame. Finally, he came around to putting his faith in Nebraska's first-time head coach.
Compton was a starter along with Ndamukong Suh on one of the nation's best defenses in 2009. He came close to winning Big 12 championships in 2009-10.
Last year the defense was average, at best, and there were blowout losses at Wisconsin and Michigan, a stunning loss at home to Northwestern and a bad loss to South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl.
This year didn't start any better, with lopsided losses at UCLA and Ohio State. But now the Huskers have won five straight, have come from behind in the second half to post four of their six Big Ten wins, and the defense has steadily gotten better.
"I never want to sit there and say this is 'my' defense," Compton said. "We have a lot of great senior leadership. Right from the get-go in the offseason, myself and a few guys took the reins and did what we needed to do this offseason to set ourselves up for the position we're in now. We have to carry it out. We have to win out."