Going into this game, I think most people didn't expect Taylor Martinez to start, but felt pretty good that Zac Lee would manage the offense well enough. Then after practice on Thursday, Bo Pelini mentioned that Zac Lee had a "sore arm", thus starting the speculation that Cody Green would be pressed into service. And as that realization started to take hold, Husker fans got a little more nervous about this game.
Truth be told, Green didn't play horribly, but he wasn't a game changer either. And as the game went on, Husker fans realized that the Huskers were in for a dogfight. Add in a special teams breakdown, and suddenly, the Huskers found themselves in overtime. A great play by Eric Hagg to sniff out the Cyclones fake attempt to win the game in overtime saved the day...and what a day it was. More specifically, it might have been the wackiest day of football in the history of the Big XII conference.
Iowa State fans might not want to claim a moral victory, but Paul Rhodes is doing a great job in Ames. Beat Colorado on Saturday, and the Cyclones are headed to a bowl once again. Very few people thought that was possible this summer.
Here's our report card for the Huskers performance. As always, your feedback is encouraged below!QB: Cody Green showed why he's Nebraska's third string quarterback. Steve Sipple thought he played well, but I'm not so sure. He fumbled, and didn't run particularly strong or fast...which was surprising, because we thought that was his strength. So while he "managed" the game, he didn't really do much other that nifty pass to Kyler Reed. Grade: C-
IB: Ho hum... just a 99 yard performance for Roy Helu. He still ran tough and had a pretty good performance, though the officials ruled that he fumbled the ball in the second quarter. Rex Burkhead had a great game, with a lot of second chance yards on effort after contact. Plus, his role as the quarterback in the Wildcat formation can't be minimized. You probably could make the argument that Burkhead was the more effective quarterback yesterday. In any event, the backs earn a solid A.
WR: The highlight of the day was a nice catch by Kyler Reed, who's starting to become a difference maker. Too fast for linebackers to cover and too big for defensive backs, he's a mismatch to exploit. Now the rest: Brandon Kinnie had a key drop on third down that could have kept a drive alive in the first half. And Niles Paul, oh, Niles. Yet another brain fart on special teams that changed the whole game. When you are that deep in the end zone on the kickoff, you take a knee. Period. One person in our group thought that Tim Marlowe gave Paul a signal to bring it out, so maybe that's not Paul's fault entirely. Perhaps...but since Marlowe is also a wide receiver, it doesn't make a difference on this grade: D-
OL: Lack of a passing game made it incumbent on the line to block extra guys in the running game, and they did okay for the most part. Grade: B
DL: First half, the line struggled to get much containment on Alexander Robinson, but locked him down in the second half thanks to some help from the secondary. And let's not forget the pressure that led to Eric Hagg's third quarter interception. Grade: B-
LB: Lavonte David put up his usual gaudy statistics, but his pass interference penalty bailed Iowa State out of a hole early in the fourth quarter. Grade B-
Secondary: Ciante Evans first start didn't go so well as his relief role went the week before. Enter Anthony West, who made a play or two. Dejon Gomes missed some time due to injury as well. So it was a shaky secondary, but they still managed to make a few plays. Oh, like Austin Cassidy, who gave the Huskers the lead in the second half with his interception return. Prince Amukamara, who was rewarded for his blitz with a sack on the reverse. And Eric Hagg. Do we love Eric Hagg or what? Grade: A-
Overall: C+ Hey, it's a win...but Nebraska could have played a lot better. Props to the Cyclones, who made the Huskers work harder than they thought they would.
Elsewhere in College Football
Colorado (First three quarters) B Yeah, it's Kansas, but maybe Dan Hawkins can dodge this season after all.
Colorado (Fourth Quarter) 0 Not an F...you simply stopped playing after taking a 45-17 lead.
Kansas: B You're playing a bunch of freshmen and sophomore, and were getting killed. But you never gave up. Times are tough, but Kansas fans, don't give up on Turner Gill. You've got a good man down there.
Colorado Fans: F I know you're upset, I know you're frustrated. But what do you think that firing Dan Hawkins now would accomplish? Think the Buffs could win the final three games and still become bowl eligible? Yeah right. Firing him now solves absolutely nothing, and might even make it worse. And yes, trust us. It can get worse.
Texas A&M: A Amazing what a difference a quarterback change makes. Props to Mike Sherman for making it voluntarily...and for having an improved defense to take advantage of it.
Texas: F Wow. Simply wow. Well, at least your pass defense shone yesterday. *smirk*
Missouri: F Let's let Paul McCartney do this one...
Big XII Order: F Texas in last place in the South. Oklahoma State and Baylor at the top. Texas at the bottom.
TCU: A+ We could be heading for BCS Armageddon