I've seen opinions all over the board on how the Huskers battled Iowa. Some people saw a dominant performance on both sides of the ball...others saw teams that made too many mistakes and finished out the string. I see a lot of both sides of the issue. This definitely was a game that Nebraska could have won by more, in my opinion. But Nebraska didn't need to, as Iowa was essentially neutralized on both sides of the ball.
In the fourth quarter, I started thinking about what the impact of a shutout would be. Good momentum going into the offseason, and an effective counter to any attempts from the east side of the Missouri river to talk some smack about anything. But a few questionable calls from the refs (bogus pass interference, Brad Herman seeming to juggle the ball as he went out of bounds) eliminated that possibility. Even at that point, I wasn't too worried, as I fgured that it would take far more mistakes in the final minutes to put the game into doubt. And it was clear Bo Pelini wasn't either, because he let up on the gas down the stretch rather than risk any further injuries.
So while the final score and the final statistics don't quite reflect the domination of the first three quarters of the game, the game still was a decent performance. And thanks to Michigan State's victory over Northwestern, there's no crying over spilled milk over finishing in third place in the Big Ten's west division. Would we like to be playing Wisconsin again? Considering how well Wisconsin is playing and how banged up the Huskers are, I think it's probably just as well that Nebraska is sitting this one out.
After the jump, here's my report card for the Huskers performance. As always, your comments and feedback are more than welcome.QB: We saw a little bit of zone read and quarterback running early in the game...then apparently Taylor Martinez twisted an ankle. So Martinez was limited to handing off and throwing the ball. Some decent passes, some not so good. While none were intercepted, Iowa's front seven got their mitts on three of them...and two of them really should have been intercepted. Grade: C
RB: Rex Burkhead has the heart of a warrior. The guy limps around between plays, and could barely walk earlier in the week. Then goes out there and carries the ball 38 times for a school record. Ameer Abdullah had a decent game as well, though he got hung out to dry early in the fourth quarter on that sweep on 3rd and short. Grade: A
WR: Nice game by Kenny Bell, and that diving catch near midfield is one of the finest you'll see. I'm looking forward to seeing him grow over the next four years; if he's healthy, he can rewrite the Husker record books. Kyler Reed's touchdown catch was almost too easy. At first I was wondering how someone WOULDN'T be paying attention to Reed slipping out of the backfield...but then I was reminded that this was his first touchdown catch of the year. So yeah, Iowa hasn't seen much of him on tape this season. Grade: B
OL: The sweeps and pitches were almost gimme plays against Iowa...but yardage was tough to find up the middle for the most part. Had to be a little concerned when Yoshi Hardrick and Marcel Jones left the game with injuries..but they gutted it out and came back in to finish out the game. I really wish we'd see more of the youngsters take snaps and give the starters a breather. I understand about wanting to play the best, but rotating would help keep people fresher and also help develop depth. Grade: C+
DL: When you consider that Terrence Moore and Baker Steinkuhler missed most of the game due to injuries, it was a pretty good job by the backups keeping Marcus Coker under control. And yes, I saw you, Jason Ankrah, with back to back tackles of Coker to set up a third and long, which resulted in a turnover. Grade: A
LB: Oh, how we'll probably miss Lavonte David next year. I say "probably", because I think Will Compton will have a huge year. But people will compare him to David, and that's unfortunate. Right after Ankrah's two-fer against Coker, David recovered from an a pushdown by C.J. Fiedorowicz (offensive pass interference) to run down Fiedorowicz and strip the ball away. Double fail on Fiedorowicz; mega kudos to David for winning the play. One concern with David, though. I'm sure NFL scouts were not impressed by the issues David had in hauling Coker down to the ground. Not sure he'll find too many backs like Coker at the next level, though. Grade: A
Secondary: Alfonzo Dennard (and occasionally Andrew Green) had another spectacular game shutting down the opponents leading receiver. Until late in the game, Marvin McNutt was a non-factor. They made it look easy...witness Green's interception of a dying quail thrown by James Vandenberg. Grade: A
Overall: Considering the injury situation, it was a decent performance against an overwhelmed opponent. As such, we'll give the Big Red a solid B for this one.
Elsewhere in College Football
AP Voters F You can't actually be thinking that an LSU/Bama rematch is a good idea? Alabama already had their chance - at home, no less.
LSU A Clearly #1.
Nike: F Once again, the swoosh team proves they are color blind. They couldn't even match the red on the helmet to the uniform. Fortunately, the Cardinal were playing Notre Dame...so the uniforms were only the second most ugly thing on the field last night (behind Notre Dame's play).
Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star: F- You can't actually be serious, calling for Turner Gill to be fired after just two years.
Illinois: z00k ... losing to Minnesota? Really?
Texas A&M: F Here's the stat of the year for the Gaggies: Opponents have outscored A&M 76-7 in the third quarter this season. Yikes.