Steve Sipple/LJS: There's Winston, and then there's Ameer.
There was Jameis Winston standing on the sideline wearing a beat-up ball cap Saturday night, watching his team struggle, and there was Ameer Abdullah running "like a man possessed," said Nebraska football coach Bo Pelini.
"I'll tell ya, I've been around a lot of football," Pelini said. "No. 8 showed how special he is tonight."
With 229 yards on a career-high 35 carries, Abdullah showed why he belongs in the thick of the Heisman Trophy discussion. It's just discussion. And it's early. But if you're a Nebraska fan, accept the prestige with open arms.
If Abdullah has his way, and he seems like a man who gets his way often, Nebraska is headed to greater prestige as a program. He makes no guarantees. He prefers to let his play do the talking.
Well, it was screaming at the top of its lungs in Nebraska's 41-31 triumph against Miami. He rushed for two touchdowns and caught a 3-yard scoring pass. He always runs the ball hard. Always. But he seemed to dial it up a notch.
Dirk Chatelain/OWH: Huskers grind out a old fashioned victory.
But the essence of Saturday’s win felt so familiar. Like a tribute to that night at the Orange Bowl 20 years ago, when Nebraska ran Miami into the ground. This time the Huskers didn’t wait till the fourth quarter.
They rushed for 343 yards (110 more than the Orange Bowl win). They controlled the ball. They blended power and speed. Innovation and tradition. They lined up in the I-formation a few times — "Oh yeah, baby," Wilks said. "I got all fired up. Let’s go!" But mostly, they used 21st-century schemes. Shotgun, quick tempo and plenty of motion.
The triple option wasn’t quarterback, I-back and fullback. It was quarterback, I-back and Kenny Bell running in motion. (Apologies to Cory Schlesinger, but Bell is just a bit faster.)
The Huskers anticipated they could wear down the ’Canes. They put the ball in Tommy Armstrong’s hands and trusted him to make the right reads. If he does it right, there’s too many weapons on the field to stop Big Red, even when they get into long-yardage situations.
"Our running game is what won this football game for us," Bo Pelini said. "That’s what Nebraska football is all about.
"Let’s face it, I’ve been around a lot of football. When you’re getting the ball run at you, maybe some of the things we did got them a little demoralized."
This was Pelini’s vision in full bloom. Of 24 second-quarter snaps, 20 were rushes, including 10 straight. How many ’94 Huskers wanted to charge into the locker room at halftime and give Tim Beck a big ol’ bear hug?
Brian Rosenthal/LJS: O line answers Abdullah's challenge.
Abdullah, who’d struggled to gain consistent yards in Nebraska’s last two games, particularly between the tackles, said Monday the offensive line had to get better.
"We lose our technique and our fundamentals sometimes," Abdullah said then. "The guys are trying really hard sometimes, but when you are in the game setting, the most important things are your first step, keeping your face up on blocks and just the fundamentals we work on every day in practice."
Abdullah rushed for 229 yards on a career-high 35 carries, an average of 6.5 yards per rush, and Nebraska rushed for 343 yards.
"We know as an O-line we just have to get hats on guys and he’s going to take care of a lot of it for us," Jake Cotton said. "We just get in the right spots and block the guys we’re responsible for, he’s gone. He’s going to make people miss, and he did it tonight."
Abdullah did his damage in a variety of ways, gaining yardage on zone-read, stretch plays and even a couple of runs out of the wildcat formation. At times, he made something out of nothing, and other times dazzled even when he didn't gain yardage.
Tom Shatel/OWH:It’s more than a win; for Husker fans, it’s cathartic
It was a scene like no other Nebraska home game.
It was a crowd like no other Nebraska home crowd, angry, wanting blood.
Somebody said there was a crescent moon out. Better double check. Could have sworn it was full.
This was fun. This was crazy. This was unreal.
This was Miami finally coming to a stadium near you.
Hours before this Miami-Nebraska game, I saw a group of Miami fans walking down Ninth Street, in front of Memorial Stadium. A friendly Husker fan asked if they were doing all right. If they were having a good time.
Hours later, Husker fans had forgotten their manners. And remembered their frustrations.
Decades of the stuff came spilling out as a well-played, breathless game turned ugly. On an old-school night when 1994 was celebrated, the Hurricanes stepped back into character.
Two separate fights, near-brawls, started when Miami and Nebraska linemen got tangled up and wouldn’t let go. One resulted in unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for Miami.
Later, a cheap shot against Ameer Abdullah by a Miami defender. Last, but not least, Miami lineman Ereck Flowers giving the Nebraska crowd a one-finger salute. Look, a Miami Hurricane telling Nebraska fans they’re No. 1!
Finally, the majority of the Miami team jogging toward the locker room after the final play rather than shaking hands. Maybe that was to prevent an all-out brawl.
Nebraska fans don’t boo, an unwritten rule, and it has everything to do with the sanctity of the college game and the fact that these kids aren’t pros.
But late in Saturday night’s game, Husker fans made an exception. While the game was still being played.
Reportedly the tradition of cheering for the opponent as it heads to the locker room was upheld by some. And not so much by others.
Susan Miller Degnan/Miami Herald: Miami Hurricanes steamrolled by No. 24 Nebraska
Abdullah rushed for 229 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries – his second 200-plus-yard rushing performance this season – to lead the No. 24 Cornhuskers to a 41-31 win in a physical, unfriendly game that at one point in the third quarter dissolved into an on-field scuffle.
"Too many yards, too many yards on the ground,’’ UM coach Al Golden told WQAM after the game. "We knew they were going to get some yards on the ground. That’s what they’re committed to.’’
Added Golden in his post-game news conference: "We didn’t get enough stops. It’s as simple as that. We didn’t tackle well enough. We didn’t get off the field on third down.’’
The Memorial Stadium record crowd of 91,585 erupted with each bruising play and each time the Hurricanes got flagged for personal fouls, and there were several.
The Hurricanes (2-2), ranked 15th against the run coming into the game, just couldn’t stop Abdullah’s pounding rushing attack. With Abdullah leading, the Huskers controlled the clock and dictated the game.
Jerry Steinburg/State of the U: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Nebraska Edition
Miami knew what was coming, and couldn't do a thing to stop it. Abdullah is a special player, but much of what we saw tonight was a defense that is still a long, long ways from ready for prime time. UM's best defensive player, Denzel Perryman, was basically a no show. 346 yards rushing allowed is not a typo.
If you see a short list this week that doesn't have Ameer in its Top 5 for the Heisman, the person isn't credible. #Huskers— Brian Christopherson (@HuskerExtraBC) September 21, 2014
What a great moment - Milt Tenopir leads the #Huskers out of the tunnel. Here we go!— Hail Varsity (@HailVarsity) September 20, 2014
Best thing about #Huskers win: Beck proved he can call & O-line proved it can block a run-1st attack. 67 plays, still 41 pts, 489 yd, 33 min— John Gaskins (@937JohnGaskins) September 21, 2014
Just watched two guys in the elevator with me struggle to push the third floor button for about 30 seconds. #Huskers— Michael Bruntz (@michaelbruntz) September 21, 2014
Shoutout to the Nebraska Student section. THIS IS AWESOME !!!!! pic.twitter.com/qZDlAiFEd9— Tim Beck (@NU_speed_kills) September 21, 2014
Most fun I've had playing football in a long time. Thank you to everybody tonight, it was one that won't be soon forgotten. #SALUTE— Kenny Bell (@AFRO_THUNDER80) September 21, 2014