We learned Nebraska CAN play a complete game, but we don’t know what we thought we knew.
The maturation process for the team – and the program – continues. While they weren’t as physically dominant as we’d have liked against a beat up Minnesota team – only 113 rushing yards – the Huskers were outstanding in the passing game, and against the passing game. Mistakes were limited (by the top units) and over-all, it was great to not have to sweat out the end of the game for a change.
About the only thing that was disappointing was the play of the backups. In the good old days, Nebraska’s second and even third units could be counted on to maintain a high level of production during blow out wins. The fact that they got so much playing time made the better of course, but whenever back-ups like Brook Berringer or Matt Turman were called on, they delivered. That didn’t happen this time.
Ron Kellogg III – we’ll call him RK3 for kicks – should have been ready to play this week, knowing it was likely he’d see action. He was not sharp, his receivers dropped two catchable throws, and the fumble at his own five yard line was inexcusable. Right now, you’d have to say heaven help the Huskers if Taylor Martinez gets injured.
On the good side, it’s looking like a trip to the Big Ten title game and possibly a Rose Bowl berth is waiting. If the Big Red can stay focused and beat up struggling Iowa next Friday, they’re headed to Indy for a rematch with Wisconsin. The Badgers won’t technically win their division, but they will represent the Leaders side and will provide the Huskers with another stern test. They say it’s tough to beat a team twice in the same season. Husker history would suggest that’s true. Nebraska split with Oklahoma in 1978, losing the Orange Bowl. They split with Texas in 1999, crushing the ‘Horns in the Big 12 Championship game. They split with ordinary Washington in 2010, somehow falling in the Holiday Bowl. Wisconsin split with Michigan State a year ago, winning the Big Ten title game after losing on a Hail Mary during the regular season.
Beating Wisconsin – even a banged up Badgers squad – will be much tougher this time around. More on that later…
And what if the Huskers DO get to the Rose Bowl? Who will they play?
Still COULD be Notre Dame, if the Irish lose to USC this week. Still COULD be Oregon, if the Ducks can get some help and squeeze into the Pac 12 title game. Could be Stanford, if the Cardinal can beat UCLA twice in two weeks. Could be the Bruins, who have clinched the Pac 12 South. That would bring about another re-match, one that would be welcomed by the Huskers after their awful performance against UCLA in September.
Still a lot more to be determined, by the Huskers, AND by the rest of college football. Stay tuned…