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The Morning After: Rutgers

What did everyone say this morning and around the internets? We sum it up here.

Eric Francis

Brian Christopherson/Lincoln Journal-Star: Abdullah carries Huskers past Scarlet Knights

Tommy Armstrong searched for something, anything, when asked if he could think of what Ameer Abdullah doesn’t do well.

Aha! There is this one thing. "He can’t sing," Armstrong said.

Abdullah maybe can’t carry a tune, but he can carry an offense a long way and was his usual genius self Saturday in Nebraska's 42-24 sleepy win against Rutgers that left Bo Pelini wanting more, his senior running back’s dominance aside.

"Well, we got the win. I’m happy about that. That’s about all I’m happy about," Pelini said. "I thought we were sloppy, inconsistent and we didn’t play at the standard we needed to. I’ll take the win. Anytime you can win a football game ... it’s never easy to win. But I have higher standards than what I watched out there today."

Both sides of the ball took turns annoying Pelini — whether it was untimely penalties on the O-line, a turnover on a fumbled snap, or giving up 17 points in the second half against a Scarlet Knight team using backup quarterback Chris Laviano, who replaced the injured  Gary Nova.

Pelini listed reasons for his displeasure with the defense after the game.

"Sloppy. Bad communication. Missed assignments. Dropping coverage when the quarterback scrambles. Things that will get you beaten down the line. … We need to have some discipline on the defensive side of the ball. We were undisciplined."

Tom Shatel/Omaha World-Herald: One to remember as Abdullah sets Nebraska record.

He looked like Cal Ripken at the end of his career, and there is something Ripkenesque or Derek Jeter-like about No. 8 and his impact on Nebraska football.

Everyone is trying to put his legacy into words now. It’s complicated and it’s simple. Abdullah will be remembered for what he did and also how he did it, with an uncommon flair, style and class.

But the legacy, this painting he’s creating, is far from done.

There’s the Heisman Trophy race. He’s a long shot. The Michigan State game hurt. Among his four regular-season games left, only Wisconsin would leave an impression. A big game and a conference title would help. At this point, getting invited to New York seems like the goal.

There’s the race to the Holy Grail, Mike Rozier’s Nebraska-record 4,780 yards. After his 225 yards on Saturday, Abdullah is 554 yards behind.

There’s a Big Ten legacy, too. Abdullah jumped to No. 2 on the Big Ten’s career all-purpose yardage chart, leaping over Archie Griffin and behind only Ron Dayne.

Pass the great Archie? That’s cool. Even better: Abdullah is NU’s first official Big Ten star, having played all four years in this conference. He gave the speech last summer in Chicago. His story is on the Big Ten Network’s "The Journey" show.

Now if he can only make All-Big Ten.

Steve Sipple/LJS: Abdullah's greatness something to behold

This is a bona-fide football player, ladies and gentlemen.

A clutch player, by the way.

"He's a deliverer," said former Nebraska running back great Tony Davis. "I haven't seen one like him since Johnny."

That's right, as in Johnny "The Jet."

Don't know if I'd go that far. But Abdullah is racking up some ridiculous numbers. His four 200-yard rushing games match Rozier's school record for a season.

Ameer's career all-purpose yardage total (6,604) ranks second in Big Ten history behind only Ron Dayne (7,429). Abdullah on Saturday passed Archie Griffin (6,559), the only two-time Heisman winner.

Think about that for a second.

Of course, Abdullah's only two objectives are a bachelor's degree and a championship. Plenty of obstacles remain.

A big man on campus faces his share of distractions and obstacles. So does a team. Brown compares it to fighting through the brush in a jungle.

Who better than No. 8 to lead Nebraska through it?

Dirk Chatelain/OWH: It's a running battle with playcaller Tim Beck

There’s an old joke: The only person who held Michael Jordan under 20 points was Dean Smith. Well, I know some Husker fans who might say the same about Abdullah, 300 yards and Tim Beck.

Because on the next possession, Beck called a play-action pass on first down. Incomplete. He called another pass on second down. Incomplete. And on third-and-10, Armstrong threw an interception.

In the grand scheme, this possession meant nothing to Nebraska’s season. Nothing. Rutgers didn’t take advantage of the turnover. Abdullah ran for 225 yards. NU won by 18.

And yet, that one moment reinforced so many criticisms of Beck, which really began at Wisconsin three years ago. It echoed the mistakes of Shawn Watson and Bill Callahan.

Why in the holy name of Cory Schlesinger, Husker Fan says, can’t Beck stick with what’s working? Why does he need to show off his playbook? Why can’t he — oh, how should we put this — run the damn ball!

I don’t need to inform Beck of his critics. He hears plenty from them. And here’s what he says.

"Guys, you can’t always just hand the ball to Ameer. I mean, everyone’s gonna know. You can’t just do that.

"You’ve got Kenny Bell on the edge, you’ve got guys like Westerkamp and De’Mornay (Pierson-) El and Tommy. They’re good football players, too. You’ve got to spread the field and you’ve got to keep teams off balance."

Following the two Abdullah touchdown runs, Beck called the play-action pass, he said, because Nebraska had shown a tendency to run on first down. He wanted to break tendency.

If you don’t, eventually they’re running 10 guys at the line of scrimmage — "You can’t block ’em, I don’t care how good you are."

Steve Politi/ Nebraska Wide Receiver compares Rutgers to... Wyoming?

The Cornhuskers had a 37-21 lead against the Cowboys last year in the season opener before allowing two late touchdowns. Nebraska had a 28-7 lead against Rutgers and, listening to the coaches and players, was disappointed with the second-half performance.

This was head coach Bo Pelini's opening statement:

"Well we got the win, I'm happy about that. That's about all I'm happy about. I thought we were sloppy, inconsistent and we didn't play at the standard we needed to. i'll take the win. Anytime you win a football game, it's never easy to win. But I have higher standards than what I watched out there today. And it starts with me. It starts with our coaching staff. I don't like the way we played."

The Cornhuskers did make a few mistakes -- a fumbled snap late in the third quarter gave Rutgers a short field for a touchdown drive, for example, and the secondary was out of position on Leonte Carroo's 71-yard touchdown reception.

But, still, it was an 18-point win. Isn't that worth something?

"We'll regroup," Bell said.

Andy Egan/On The Banks: Rutgers lost to the Huskers.. .and now for the truly bad news.

Fear Ameer indeed. Mr. Abdullah proved to be as good as advertised and then some.  The Nebraska running back went off for 225 rushing yards and 3 TDs. He also added 26 receiving yards and 90 yards on kickoff returns, good for 341 all purpose yards on the day. The lightning quick Abdullah was a weapon the Knights simply could not stop. Like last week's game against Ohio State, Rutgers had a serious size disadvantage on the lines, and the defense looked overmatched way more than they should.  Abdullah aside, the talent differential did not seem as exaggerated as it did against OSU.

Unlike the game against the Buckeyes, there were some positives the Knights can take from this game.  The offense looked competent overall, putting up 205 passing yards and 143 rushing yards on a Nebraska defense that just this week received their vaunted "blackshirts" back from Coach Pelini. For perspective, Michigan State put up 188 rushing and 234 passing on the Huskers three weeks ago, so offense was respectable.