Nebraska Cornhuskers: Football

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February, 4, 2014
T-19 hours until fax machines have a purpose again.

Lunchtime links

January, 21, 2014
Feel the rhythm! Feel the rhyme! Get on up, it's bobsled time.

Big Ten lunchtime links

January, 7, 2014
Seriously though, give the guy back his cat.

Lunchtime links

December, 17, 2013
If you're not rapping while wearing striped pajamas in your holiday card/video, you need to get on this family's level.

Big Ten lunchtime links

December, 10, 2013
Paper. Snow. A GHOST!

Big Ten lunchtime links

December, 5, 2013
Perhaps we could have a Big Ten-ACC Challenge in the title game? At least that one couldn't end in a tie.

Big Ten lunch links

November, 19, 2013
How quickly it changed from cider to cocoa season.

Big Ten helmet stickers: Week 12

November, 17, 2013
Recognizing the best and the brightest around the Big Ten in week 12 …

Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said that Hyde made the difference for the Buckeyes in a 60-35 win. The senior rushed for four touchdowns and 246 yards on 24 carries and tallied another receiving touchdown (he had two catches totaling 26 yards). It was Hyde’s first 200-yard game of the season and more than double his previous season average of 117 yards per game.

Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons and holder Drew Dileo. Down three points with under 10 seconds remaining in regulation, the Michigan offense was sprinting off the field, the kicking team sprinting on the field and Dileo was sliding in to this holding position for Gibbons (yes, literally, sliding). Gibbons nailed a 44-yard field goal to send the game in to overtime, which the Wolverines eventually won after triple OT.

Wisconsin running backs. The Badgers accounted for 554 rushing yards against Indiana. James White (205 yards, 1 touchdown), Melvin Gordon (146 yards, 1 touchdown) and Corey Clement (108 yards, 2 touchdowns) became Wisconsin's third 100-yard rushing trio this season. Wisconsin tallied seven runs of 30 yards or more and White recorded a 93-yard touchdown run which set a program record for the longest run. The Badgers' 554 rush yards are the most by an FBS team this season.

Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah. The Big Ten’s leading rusher had his seventh 100-yard game of the season (bringing his rushing total this season to 1,213) and he became the first running back to rush for more than 100 yards against the Spartans defense. He accounted for 123 yards on 22 carries and his one TD of the day was a 12-yard receiving touchdown (his only catch of the day). MSU came into the match up giving up just 43 rushing yards per game -- which Abdullah tripled.

Illinois DB V'Angelo Bentley. Coming into this weekend the Buckeyes had allowed just 1.5 yards per punt return and haven’t allowed any kind of a return on 92 percent of their punts. But with the Illini down 28-0 on Saturday Bentley managed to get past more than half of Ohio State’s punt coverage team and go 67 yards to the end zone. Not only did he become the first player to have success against this group, he also gave Illinois its first sign of life against the Buckeyes.

Honorable mention: Michigan State kicker Mike Sadler. With a six-point lead in the fourth quarter and the Spartans faced with a fourth-and-1 on the Cornhuskers 27 yard line, Mark Dantonio called for a fake field goal play. Sadler was supposed to go right, but the formation wasn’t quite what MSU expected, so instead of checking out of it and going for a field goal he rushed for three yards up the middle and a first down, setting up an MSU score.

Big Ten lunchtime links

November, 15, 2013
TGIF. I just wish the TV version still existed.

What to watch in the Big Ten: Week 12

November, 14, 2013
Storylines to watch in the Big Ten this weekend:

[+] EnlargePelini
Bruce Thorson/USA TODAY SportsNebraska is 7-0 against Michigan State, and Bo Pelini hopes to make that 8-0 and take a big step towards winning the Legends Division on Saturday.
1. The challenge at the top of the Legends Division: It’s going down in Lincoln, Neb. Michigan State travels south to try to close out the Legends race, while the Cornhuskers hope to crash that party. The Spartans are coming off a bye with an extra week to prep, but Nebraska has been the thorn in their side that they’ve just never been able to get out (Nebraska holds a 7-0 advantage over MSU). And expect the Huskers faithful to come out for this one, as a win could prove to be huge. If both teams win out, and it comes down to the head-to-head winner, the nod to face Ohio State would be given to Nebraska.

2. The challenge at the bottom of the Legends Division: And on the opposite end of that spectrum there’s the Northwestern-Michigan game. Two teams that were once thought of as top-25 teams are now fighting to find any kind of an identity while dwelling near the bottom/lower half of the Big Ten. The Wolverines have dropped three of their past four and the Wildcats have yet to win a conference game. This is a game for pride. This is a game featuring two teams desperate for a win. And the good news is -- one of these teams has to win. Northwestern had a week to heal its bodies (which it needed badly) and the Wolverines haven’t traveled well under Brady Hoke, which creates an interesting matchup.

3. Northwestern making a final push: Even with their Big Ten breakdown, the Wildcats are still just two wins away from being bowl eligible. They face Michigan and Michigan State at home and Illinois on the road. If there’s a time for Northwestern, it is now. Pulling wins out over Michigan and Illinois wouldn’t be too far-fetched in the Big Ten reality, and if Pat Fitzgerald can rally his troops, it could happen. Look for the possibility of a rejuvenated Wildcats team fighting for their postseason life -- that’s dangerous.

4. Teams running wild: Several games this weekend feature intriguing matchups in the run game. There are two games that have lopsided advantages for the run game. Penn State’s Bill Belton will have the chance to find holes in Purdue’s (very holey) defense. The Boilermakers have the second-worst rushing defense in the Big Ten, allowing 224 yards per game. Their rushing defense is only better than Illinois’. Which, speaking of that, the Illini’s conference-worst run defense will face the conference-best rushing attack in Ohio State, which averages 301 yards per game.

Also keep an eye on the running backs in Nebraska-Michigan State. The Spartans will attempt to keep Ameer Abdullah quiet, but the Big Ten’s leading rusher -- 135 yards per game -- will do his best to make sure that doesn’t happen. And on the opposite side, MSU running back Jeremy Langford will try to keep his breakout season on the upswing against a Cornhuskers defense that allowed minus-21 rushing yards to Michigan last weekend. And finally, Wisconsin and its exciting run game will face Indiana -- the No. 10 rushing defense in the conference.

5. Ohio State looks to make statements: The Buckeyes don’t have the best strength of schedule from here on out, so if they want to find themselves in the national title game, they need to make big statements in their remaining games. And the players have finally begun acknowledging that publicly. Ohio State has won its past three games by a combined score of 153-38. And with Illinois, Indiana and Michigan as its last three opponents, they could look to repeat those kind of performances.

6. Defenses maintaining momentum: Obviously, the Michigan State-Nebraska game will be one to watch (notice a trend here?). The Spartans’ top-ranked defense will look to contain the Cornhuskers, while Nebraska -- fresh off an impressive showing in which they delivered Hoke his first loss as head coach in Michigan Stadium -- will look to do the same. Ohio State will continue its rally cry that it’s not just an offensive team and the Badgers, the Big Ten’s No. 2 defense, will have the chance to face Indiana, which features an impressive offense of its own (at times).

7. Teams looking for crucial wins heading into dangerous territory: Road wins are key for every team. However, there are a few Big Ten teams hitting the road this weekend that need to find those road wins in volatile opposing stadiums. Indiana, which is two wins away from bowl eligibility with three games remaining, travels to Madison to play Wisconsin, which is never a friendly atmosphere. The Wolverines, who’ve struggled mightily on the road and haven’t looked like a complete team for more than a month, travel to Northwestern. Generally, NU features a heavy Michigan feel during that game but with the Wildcats’ recent push to be Chicago’s Big Ten team, this year could feature a different atmosphere. And the Spartans will attempt to seal up the Legends race in front of the “Sea of Red” in Memorial Stadium.

Cornhuskers building momentum

November, 9, 2013

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Nebraska rode its Hail Mary high all the way from Lincoln last weekend to Ann Arbor this weekend, delivering Michigan its first loss in the Big House during coach Brady Hoke’s tenure.

The 17-13 victory came on the heels of a stellar defensive performance, sacking quarterback Devin Gardner seven times, and holding the Wolverines to minus-21 rushing yards -- the lowest rushing total by a Nebraska opponent since Troy State in 2001.

[+] EnlargeZaire Anderson
Gregory Shamus/Getty ImagesZaire Anderson posted two of Nebraska's seven sacks of Devin Gardner.
“I'm proud of that group of kids in the locker room. We're a little shorthanded right now but the character on that football team showed, they just fought until the end,” coach Bo Pelini said. “The way they played, they played with passion. … Guys rose to the occasion. And we talked all week about that, no matter the odds or where we were playing, we were going to play as a team and pick each other up.”

The win ramps up the implications for next weekend’s game against Michigan State. The Spartans sit one game in front the Cornhuskers and if Nebraska can pick up a win, the Huskers inch closer and closer to playing for the Big Ten championship.

The team that showed up against Michigan is one that seems more threatening to the Spartans than the Nebraska that lost to Minnesota less than a month ago. And Pelini, who is 18-4 at Nebraska during November, has a group that could be primed to go on a run this month.

Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. led a 75-yard, fourth-quarter drive to put Nebraska up by four. On a fourth-and-2 he converted a 26-yard pass to Kenny Bell while Ameer Abdullah took the pressure off for the run game.

And the Nebraska defense followed that up with its own standup performance, holding Gardner and the Michigan offense from advancing more than 16 yards and effectively ending the game.

“That's a great feeling, but we have to move on to next week,” Armstrong said. “This was a great win. It was a tough win. It was a team win, and our defense got us a bunch of stops. They played the best ball they've ever played.”
Michigan and Nebraska face off this weekend in a game that is pretty big on each team's schedules. Nebraska reporter Mitch Sherman and Michigan reporter Chantel Jennings sat down to discuss a few of the story lines heading in to this matchup. Since both teams are on separate ends of the emotional spectrum, that seemed like a good place to start the conversation.

1. Nebraska is coming off a last-second win and Michigan is coming off an embarrassing loss, which emotional state is more dangerous for the opponent?

Mitch Sherman: For Nebraska and its state of mind at the Big House, it’s all about the start. If the Cornhuskers can get a couple defensive stops and score early, they’ll feel that momentum from a week ago and the finish of the Northwestern game. If not, the Huskers are just as likely to remember Minneapolis, where they lost two weeks ago, or worse yet, their experiences in Madison, Ann Arbor, Columbus or Indianapolis, the sites of embarrassing losses over the past two seasons.

Chantel Jennings: Michigan wants to use this weekend to prove that last weekend was an anomaly, but that means the Wolverines could almost come out too emotional and overcompensate. The Huskers, on the other hand, are riding a high wave of excitement and momentum, which, at the end of the day, I think is more dangerous in a game. Even if they get knocked down a few notches during the game, they’re still feeling better.

2. Michigan’s offensive line struggled mightily against Michigan State, how does it respond against Nebraska?

Jennings: It’s hard to say. Michigan’s offensive line isn’t in a great place and a loss like that definitely doesn’t help build any confidence or chemistry in a group. On top of that, I’d imagine Nebraska coaches will look to the Michigan-MSU game film for a blueprint of sorts at how to attack Michigan’s offensive line. Obviously, the Huskers don’t have the same talent that the Spartans do, but looking at what the Spartans did and how they did it will help Nebraska some kind of an idea how to do it.

Sherman: Nebraska’s strength on defense starts on the edge, both in the secondary and up front. Defensive end Randy Gregory can change a game. The Huskers will move Gregory often, perhaps even align him at the second level, to avoid a regular matchup with Taylor Lewan, the Michigan blocker most likely to contain Gregory. Freshman Avery Moss is turning into a playmaker, too, at defensive end, and Nebraska will bring heat from the secondary in an attempt to rattle Devin Gardner. If the Huskers can expose the Wolverines’ weaknesses in pass protection and get to the quarterback, it’s a huge positive for coach Bo Pelini’s group.

3. Nebraska’s offensive line will miss some talent this weekend, how does it fare against Michigan’s defensive line?

Sherman: Doesn’t look good for the Huskers. The loss last month of All-Big Ten guard Spencer Long devastated the line even beyond the expected impact. Mike Moudy has struggled at time in Long’s spot, and the group’s cohesiveness has slipped. Then the Huskers’ other guard, Jake Cotton went down last week. It forces tackle Andrew Rodriguez inside and creates a domino effect to further disrupt chemistry. If the Wolverines dial up a few unusual looks on defense, expect it to cause problems for Nebraska’s ground and aerial games.

Jennings: As unimpressive as the Michigan offense was last weekend, Greg Mattison’s defense is also looking to use this weekend as a statement win. Mattison said earlier this week that if a defense is good enough they’ll find any way to win a game. So, in his opinion, if his defense were good enough, it would’ve found a way to compensate for what the Wolverines offense did – or didn’t do -- against Michigan State. Mattison is going to be riding those guys to push the bar even higher this week with pressure up front (and tighter coverage in the secondary). He’ll give Michigan some pretty crazy blitz schemes that’ll test the Nebraska defensive line.

4. The Wolverines are undefeated at home under Brady Hoke. Even with as inconsistent as Michigan has been, how much of an advantage will this provide the Wolverines?

Jennings: Michigan definitely has another comfort level at home and returning to the Big House following the loss to the Spartans will be a good thing. The Wolverines will definitely be looking to make a statement about who they are as a team this game and undoubtedly, playing in a comfortable environment will help them. Plus, having the 110,000-plus fans helps Michigan and could provide a very intimidating environment for the Huskers to walk in to.

Sherman: On the flip side, Nebraska has won just seven of 15 games away from Lincoln since the start 2011. The Huskers struggled to generate energy two weeks ago at Minnesota. And they’re starting a redshirt freshman quarterback in Tommy Armstrong Jr., who has thrown three interceptions in each of his past two appearances. Armstrong has experienced nothing like the road atmosphere in Ann Arbor. If Nebraska has any shot to neutralize Michigan’s home field, it must create energy on defense and ride the legs of Ameer Abdullah, who’s running as well as any back in the league.

Big Ten lunchtime links

November, 5, 2013
There is a colonial woman on the wing. There is something they're not telling us.

Happy Halloween in the Big Ten

October, 31, 2013
McKayla Maroney, Brady HokeAP PhotoBrady Hoke, like McKayla Maroney, is not impressed.
The Big Ten doesn't have as many teams in the top 10 as the SEC. Or the Pac-12. Or the ACC. But shoot, the Big Ten can have just as much fun when it comes to Halloween.

Freddy Krueger (team not to sleep on): Minnesota. After the Gophers' unimpressive 0-2 start to the Big Ten season, it seemed Minnesota was frozen at the bottom of the conference (or maybe, just frozen in Minneapolis). But after solid wins over Northwestern and Nebraska, it now seems the Gophers have found their way back from the dead and could somehow manage to put together a pretty decent record by season's end. Goldy Gopher might look nice, but don't turn your back...

Boo (boo): Taylor Martinez’s toe injury. Whether it's turf toe or not, it's been serious and painful for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers were definitely a different team with Martinez, but even when he returned last week in a loss to Minnesota, it still seemed like a pretty terrifying ordeal.

Graveyard: Purdue. At least they have the Big Bass Drum. And Drew Brees. Because outside of that, there really doesn't seem to be a lot of noise or life coming out of West Lafayette, Ind. The Boilermakers have one victory this season (over Indiana State). That doesn't make them dead, but it does make them dead last.

[+] EnlargeKain Colter
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesKain Colter and Northwestern showed such promise early in the season.
The Halloween-themed Oreo: How many times have you bought the Oreo with the orange stuffing simply because you think to yourself that it will be different, new and exciting? Instead, it tastes the same. Well, hello Indiana. You’ve looked different, new and exciting this season. But still, the Hoosiers have only three wins, and looking at the rest of their season (and how they play defense), there’s a decent chance they end up only matching last year’s victory total of four. Different look, same result.

Trick: Northwestern. Remember when the Wildcats were a team that __________? A: Could contend for the Big Ten title? B: Was exciting to watch? C: Was changing the identity of the program and gaining national respect? Yeah. Not anymore. Trick's on us.

Treat: Wisconsin. With all that happened in the offseason and a brand new coach and system coming to the program, there would've been plenty of excuses if this team hadn't done well this year. But surprise: The Badgers have been one of the most consistent teams in the Big Ten, and that's a huge treat. Go ahead, be excited, jump around. Even Bo Ryan did it.

Big Ten Halloween costume ideas

One of the most popular costumes this year (and forever) will likely be McKayla Maroney and her “Not Impressed” meme.

And while there’s plenty to not be impressed about in Big Ten football this season, there are also some Big Ten coaches, and coaches who've faced Big Ten teams, who could seriously consider going as McKayla, such as: Michigan coach Brady Hoke, Penn State coach Bill O’Brien, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, Urban Meyer (circa 2010) and Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly.

But there are also plenty of costumes outside of McKayla. Because in a league full of wild animal mascots (literally) and nuts (literally and figuratively), there should be plenty of creativity for costumes.
However, Ryan isn't the only Big Ten selection fighting for the role of Sunshine. Ryan has the added benefit of having Jackson to make it a group outfit, which is always worth bonus points. But Ryan cut his hair this summer, which is a detriment to the costume as a whole.

Big Ten lunchtime links

October, 22, 2013
The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in the red zone.


ESPN Sport Science - Randy Gregory Ruins A Tackling Dummy
NFL Draft prospect Randy Gregory delivered a hit that knocked the head of a tackling dummy, one of the hardest hits ever measured in the lab. To see more of how Gregory fared, check out the ESPN Sport Science draft combine special on April 23.