It was a blowout and completely uncompetitive. Not necessarily because of how Nebraska played but rather how awful Idaho State is. Jeff Sagarin's computer rankings have them at 204th in division 1, down around Arkanas-Pine Bluff level. Anybody who was trying to pretend that Idaho State was a North Dakota State or Appalachian State type team capable of pulling of an upset was either trying to create controversy or didn't know what they are talking about. North Dakota State is a good 1-AA (currently ranked 57th by Sagarin) team. Idaho State is not. Frankly, the Bengals probably are the worst team to play the Huskers in Lincoln. It was a game put together because (a) Nebraska needed a home game for budget reasons and (b) nobody else was available. Tom Shatel suggested games like Nebraska vs. Idaho State call for nine conference games each season. There's one problem with that. Games like Nebraska/Idaho State aren't the ones that disappear from the schedule in that situation...it's games like Nebraska vs. UCLA instead. Money speaks, and money requires home games. If you have to give up a home game every other year for an extra conference game, you give up non-conference games that require a road trip. The body bag games aren't going away until the NCAA and the next evolution of the BCS makes it worth your while to go on the road instead of playing a patsy.
As for yesterday, frankly, it was tough to evaluate much of what we saw on the field. Nebraska did what they were supposed to against a bad opponent. We got to see just about everybody who was eligible to play on the field, other than Chase Rome. (And that was probably for disciplinary reasons.) If you could play and not burn a redshirt, you were out there. It was a game that required binoculars and a roster so you knew who was out there in the second half.
After this weekend's performance, the Huskers move up to 20th in the coaches poll and 22nd in the AP poll. With Wisconsin struggles this season, ESPN is sending College Gameday to East Lansing for the Ohio State game at Michigan State.
QB: Taylor Martinez played more than I thought he should, quite probably because Ron Kellogg III's first half drive ended with an interception. It looked like Martinez wasn't in sync with Burkhead on the opening series as a couple of passes ended up nowhere near him. After the game, it sounded like Kellogg's interception was a miscommunication as well between him and his receiver; that's bound to happen, but the only solution to that is more playing time. Bronson Marsh out of Millard South finished the game out running a bunch of option with a fumble. Grade: C+
RB: Rex Burkhead looked like he was limping on his first carry of the game, but he didn't show many ill-effects of his knee injury after that. He got his 100 yards and a couple of touchdowns, and headed to the bench. No sense putting him at any more risk than that. Ameer Abdullah and Braylon Heard looked pretty good, though on Heard's touchdown run, it looks like he slowed up to walk into the end zone. Abdullah's punt return for a touchdown was fun to watch. Imani Cross looked like a man among boys at the end of the game, earning his 100 yard day. And is that right? The fullbacks combined for nine carries? Of the three, I think C.J. Zimmerer and true freshman Andy Janovich looked better than Mike Marrow. Grade: A-
WR: Not sure why Nebraska called that shuffle pass to Kenny Bell...other than wanting to put something on video for Wisconsin and Ohio State to think about the next couple of weeks. Jamal Turner kept trying to play those rugby punts by hitting his spin move button a little too much. Tyler Evans had a somewhat embarassing drop as well. Grade: B+
OL: The big disappointment of the day for me. When Idaho State's d-line tops out at 263, there's absolutely no excuse for giving up two sacks. No excuse for I-backs having to dodge tacklers in the backfield. None. Grade: D-
DL: This was the type of opponent that a guy like Eric Martin should feast on...and he did with five tackles for loss. Here's the key for the Michigan State game; containing Le'Veon Bell on first and second down so that Eric Marin can pin his ears back and mug Andrew Maxwell. And this week, we'll get a test of this against Wisconsin. Contain Wisconsin's running backs on first and second down so that Martin can target Joel Stave. Grade: B
LB: OK, most of the day this was just Will Compton and Sean Fisher as the Huskers went dime against the pass-happy Bengals. They did what they needed to do. This week, it gets real as Wisconsin comes to town and they'll be looking to run the ball. Grade: B
Secondary: I think the coverage was really good almost all day, though frankly, Nebraska was playing chess on defense while Idaho State was playing checkers. Not quite sure about a couple of those penalties, but it is what it is. Grade: A-
Overall: B- I know I'm being tough on this, but there were too many penalties out there, and it wasn't inexperience to blame. And my alarm level went up on the offensive line this week.
Elsewhere in College Football
Iowa: Bahahahahahhahahha! Phhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Bahahhahahhaha. Wait, we'll come back to that.
Michigan: Denard Robinson's towel toss in the shower was apparently intercepted as well. Grade: F
Michigan State: Le'Veon Bell may need to rush for 2,000 yards this season if the Spartans have any chance of winning the Big Ten's West Division. Just to put this in perspective, Jeff Sagarin ranks Eastern Michigan 145th. Grade: D+
Iowa: Bahahahahahahhaha. Sorry about that... we'll get back to that.
Ohio State: Urban Meyer says that the Buckeyes have three problem areas: "Offense, defense, and special teams." But there is some room for optimism: Jordan Hall carried the ball 17 times for 105 yards. Grade: D+
Wisconsin: Melvin Gordon came on in relief of Montee Ball, who left the game with his second head injury in two months. Because of that, I think it's unlikely that Ball plays next Saturday night, but don't sleep on Gordon, a touted freshman who had 112 yards rushing yesterday. Meanwhile, Joel Stave is now entrenched as the Badgers quarterback. If you're worried about mobile quarterbacks, just note that Stave ran the ball six times for -2 yards. Grade: C-
Iowa: Phhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhbbbt. Still can't do this yet.
Minnesota: OK, here's a B1G team that didn't have a disappointment. Solid win for an improving program. Grade: B+
Illinois: Good Lord. Louisiana Tech? Grade: 0
Iowa: Bahahahhahaha. Not yet.
LSU: Good thing the Tigers weren't playing Lousiana-Monroe. Grade: C+
Oregon: That was one big can of whoop-ass that the Ducks opened up. Grade: A+
Iowa: Bahahahaha... Aw, heck...forget about it.
Kansas State: The puddy-tats may be for real, and the Miracle worker has been reincarnated. Grade: A+
NU Students: I ripped you last week for not showing up, but you came this week, and more importantly, you showed creativity with the slow motion wave. A fresh take on a stale tradition during an otherwise unwatchable game. Grade: A