Tom Shatel, Omaha World-Herald: Huskers ignore the noise, find focus - and it's better late than never
The 2015 Nebraska football team has arrived at the party.
Yeah, the Huskers are late. They’re also right on time.
The Huskers beat Rutgers on Saturday, 31-14, and this was the team they signed up to be back in August, the team you hoped to watch.
They toyed with the Scarlet Knights, took a couple of body blows, and then finished it off like they knew what they were doing, like they had been doing it all season. Performing with authority. Playmaking with confidence. An offense with lots of answers, a defense with lots of passion, one playing off the other.
Their poster boy was tight end Cethan Carter, who played like such a star he should have been wearing a tuxedo.
Better late than never.
Steve Sipple, Lincoln Journal-Star: NU's Three Game Season builds toward climax
The eyes had it.
The three-game season plan took hold.
There was Nebraska's awful loss Oct. 31 at Purdue. Then, there was a moment in the NU locker room the following week. That's how Husker safety Nate Gerry describes it — a moment.
It now appears to be a critical moment.
"I think it was one of those things where everybody just kind of looked at each other in the eyes before practice one day," Gerry said of when the three-game season plan originated. "When you see something in everybody's eyes, you knew everybody was going to buy in and things were going to start clicking."
It clicked in a Nov. 7 upset of then-No. 7 Michigan State.
It clicked again Saturday, as Nebraska, despite a few interception-induced hiccups, rolled past Rutgers 31-14 in chilly and windswept High Point Solutions Stadium.
Steve Politi. NJ.com: Kyle Flood booed at home ss slim bowl hopes collapse
It was a PSA to encourage fans to use a designated driver. But when Kyle Flood popped up on the stadium scoreboard, a few thousand angry Rutgers fans used the moment to make a public service announcement of their own.
They were loud. They were mad. And let's be clear: They were not yelling "Carrooooo!"
The booing was the clearest sign yet that the fan base has had enough of Flood, and given that the team was already down 21-0 to a mediocre Nebraska team just minutes into the second quarter, the sentiment was understandable.
Here is the one person we hold responsible for what is happening on the field, the fans — the paying customers — were saying. The question now: Is anyone at Rutgers listening?
We'll find out soon enough. The seventh loss of the season, this time 31-14 (although the final score was really irrelevant), means that the Scarlet Knights will most likely* fail to reach a bowl game for just the second time in the last 11 seasons.
Griffin Whittmer, On The Banks: Rutgers vs. Nebraska: Game Recap
In an incredibly predictable game, Rutgers was dominated by the Nebraska Cornhuskers to the tune of 31-14.
The students failed to show up, and quite frankly neither did the team. The Scarlet Knights were flat from the start and failed to gain any offensive momentum whatsoever.
Brandon Vogel, Hail Varsity: Finally, a few steps forward
Teams that play for two-and-a-half straight months aren’t supposed to be at their healthiest in week 11, but you could argue that’s the case here. It made a big difference defensively against Rutgers. The Huskers probably played their best game on that side of the ball on Saturday.
With most of the key parts available in the back seven, defensive coordinator Mark Banker had a few extra pages in the playbook. Nebraska played dime, something it hadn’t done much of since the BYU game. It switched to a 3-man front on some passing downs and the pressures – be they blitzes or just rushing four – got home as well as they have yet under this staff. The Huskers posted season-highs in both sacks (6.0) and tackles for loss (11.0).
"For the most part we were just bringing four guys, we weren’t bringing five," Banker said. "We brought four guys and in some cases we weren’t even playing man coverage, we were playing zone coverage."
Not having to constantly win one-on-one battles downfield had its benefits, too. Banker cooked up a special coverage for the Scarlet Knights’ big-play threat Leonte Carroo, then, after watching the star receiver in warm-ups, decided he wasn’t going to use it. Carroo had four catches for 62 yards, including one 30-yard grab, but beyond that Rutgers only managed two other gains of 20-plus yards.
"That’s what frankly worried me the most about this team," Mike Riley said after the game.
Brian Christoperson, Lincoln Journal-Star: Strange trip? Yea, but Big Ten becoming new normal for many Husker fans
They started loading up the big truck Wednesday. You never left for a conference game on a Wednesday back when Monte Selden first began driving the big truck that, even in the leanest of times for Husker football, draws triple takes and inquiries from strangers.
Not when you only had to get all that Husker equipment to Lawrence or Manhattan or Ames by 10 a.m. on Friday.
But Thursday morning, when Monte answered his phone, he was on the road and well into the journey with two of his cohorts. He didn’t say whether red pants or white pants were packed behind him, but he did say he was 50 miles west of Youngstown, Ohio. "I’m going to take a picture of the Youngstown sign," he said with a laugh.
The truck had started on its journey at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Fuel stops are fun. "It draws a lot of attention." Everybody always wants to know: Where’s this big truck with five national championship trophies painted on it going?
The answer this week is something that would have made a Nebraska fan’s jaw drop five years ago when the Huskers first announced their intentions of joining the Big Ten. No one could have known then that Monte would kindly answer "New Jersey" to those strangers.
"I love it," he said. "It’s something new."
Jordan Westerkamp signed this guy's sock after the game. The other sock. Autograph not pictured. #Huskers pic.twitter.com/wSepHYgTg8— Brandon Vogel (@brandonlvogel) November 15, 2015
Congrats on getting that pig, Iowa. See you in Lincoln in a couple weeks. #Huskers— Kevin Thomas (@KevinThomasKLIN) November 15, 2015
#Huskers ended with 174 yards. Aided by a few big gainers. But that 175 rushing total still seems like sort of a magic # to me for this O.— Brian Christopherson (@HuskerExtraBC) November 15, 2015
Cethan Carter's 32-yard TD run in the first quarter is the longest rush by a tight end in D1 this season— HuskersStats (@HuskersStats) November 14, 2015
Don't know what will happen Nov. 27, but Iowa will encounter an extremely confident Nebraska team. That was clear in post-game. #Huskers— Steven M. Sipple (@HuskerExtraSip) November 15, 2015
#Huskers showing love to the many fans who made the trip. @jackgangwish @AndyJanovich @JordanWesty1 pic.twitter.com/gINhwPejwZ— Robin Washut (@RobinWashut) November 14, 2015
Is angry RUN THE BALL guy from yesterday on @937TheTicket unsatisfied w not getting to 40 rushes?! I kid. #Huskers had 38, to 21 pass. #RTB— John Gaskins (@937JohnGaskins) November 15, 2015
Two big factors in the #Huskers win from Coach Riley... Defense Covering kicks ⚪️ #GBR #Huskers https://t.co/WNExgvJKyN— Nebraska Huskers (@Huskers) November 15, 2015
Great team win tonight, these #Huskers won't stop fighting! #GBR pic.twitter.com/6dJialxHwa— Mike Riley (@Coach_Riley) November 15, 2015