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  1. 2012 Jan 25

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Audible Audibles Feat. Intelligent College Football's Tim Hyland


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Husker Locker's Brandon Cavanaugh sits down with some of the biggest and brightest minds in college football with the site's newest feature: Audible Audibles.

    This week, Penn State graduate Tim Hyland, college football writer for About.com and Founder of Intelligentcollegefootball.com stops by for a chat.

    Topics include:

    - Hyland's take on Nebraska
    - Does he agree with LJS' Steve Sipple that Nebraska's brand needs some polish?
    - Is the Big Ten now Urban Meyer's sandbox?
    - Hyland's take on Joe Paterno's legacy

    Finally, the cross-divisional rival goes Three and Out. Will Hyland answer the three questions given or call an audible to see one of the other six questions prepared?

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

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    Tags: big ten, urban meyer, joe paterno

  2. 2011 Nov 14

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Top Five Things We Saw Against Penn State


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Erin Sorensen

    Fans were unsure of what to expect as last Saturday's kickoff drew nearer. At the final whistle, a 17-14 victory was more than sweet, as Nebraska handed Penn State their first conference loss of the season. It was still bitter though, as fans witnessed a program struggling to move past one of the biggest scandals in college athletics.

    1. Pressure on Matt McGloin/An Absent Rob Bolden

    Penn State often starts sophomore Rob Bolden against opponents. Bolden never saw the field as junior Matt McGloin took the reins of the Nittany Lions’ offense. However, Bolden’s lack of time under center is a mystery, as he is easily the better runner of the two.

    The logic here must have been that McGloin is a better decision-maker and would be able to handle a situation like the 17-0 deficit Penn State found itself staring at.

    Nebraska fans were told to look for the junior starting first, with Bolden coming in as a backup, a reverse from what Penn State usually does. However, enough pressure from the defense (and efficient scoring by the Husker offense) kept McGloin in the game.

    It was oddly reminiscent of Nebraska’s trip to Wisconsin, except this time, it was Penn State trying to keep up. Big passes taught McGloin a fast lesson about not throwing anywhere near Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard. Had he continued, Dennard would have had a pick or two.

    The Nebraska defense still showed weaknesses, but the improvement is there. Penn State’s refusal to remove McGloin was proof enough of that.

    2. The Ability to Adjust

    There were not a lot of adjustments to be made. However, when the Husker wide receivers were dropping passes, offensive coordinator Tim Beck started calling more plays for I-Back Rex Burkhead.

    When he wasn’t finding room to run, it was back to the air. This kept Penn State’s defense moving constantly, and it was clear the Nittany Lions were worn out by the fourth quarter.

    Once again, Beck showed that he is able of calling a crisp, near-perfect game. Improving his play-calling consistency is going to be vital for the first-year offensive coordinator. If he can find a rhythm, this offense is primed to be unstoppable.

    3. Game Management by Taylor Martinez

    Sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez is on a campaign to silence all those who have doubted him. When given a solid playbook from Beck, the Californian quarterback becomes next to unstoppable. Quick passes are clearly his strong suit. His throwing form may be bizarre, but it’s working. Why fix what’s not broke?

    It’s clear that Martinez is growing up. His leadership skills are becoming stronger with each game as are his game management skills. As the clock ticked down in the fourth quarter, Martinez made Husker fans nervous by snapping the ball with one or two seconds left.

    However, fans are seeing that this is what he intends to do, instead of the confusion of years past. Martinez is shaping into a quarterback that, while still frustrating at times, knows how to make the offense produce. For a sophomore, that’s a huge step.

    4. The Lack of Young Running Backs

    Head Coach Bo Pelini should have considered keeping a redshirt on one of his three talented true freshman backs. At this point in the season, it is clear that the young guys are not going to be making too many appearances.

    Whether it is a lack of confidence in them, or too much in Burkhead, Beck and Pelini have made up their mind as to who will see the field and who will not.

    Fans can continue to wish for use of the three young backs, but it’s doubtful this will happen. With Burkhead back at ‘Superman’ status and another 100-yard game, the workhorse will handle the remainder of the season.

    It doesn’t hurt that Burkhead and Martinez clearly get along very well. Fans should expect to see a similar game plan to Penn State’s against Michigan and Iowa, with Martinez and Burkhead running the ship.

    Ameer Abdullah, Aaron Green and Braylon Heard are just going to have to wait.

    5. Team Composure

    Bo Pelini didn’t think the game in Happy Valley should have been played in the first place. The team was surprised by the amount of security they were surrounded by. National media was camped outside of Joe Paterno’s house in State College. The day was poised to be a spectacle.

    However, Nebraska did exactly what they needed to do – Stand united. The Huskers weren’t just united with one another, but also held a friendly hand out to Penn State.

    Players from both sidelines earned a great deal of respect for one another last Saturday. For what is intended to be Nebraska’s great “cross-division rivalry,” it appears Nebraska and Penn State players, coaches, and fans look forward to playing each other perhaps more than anyone else.

    From the pre-game prayer on the 50-yard line to the shaking of hands at the end, Nebraska and Penn State showed a great deal of respect for one another. It was a proud moment for Husker fans. It showed that no amount of media frenzy would faze this group of young men.

    Overall, fans saw a game full of promise for Nebraska. It was a proud day for Husker Nation, who wanted to see nothing more that a clean, fair game.

    A note to Bo Pelini: Don’t think that the fans didn’t notice you wearing red, even when athletic director Tom Osborne told fans not too. That red jacket said a lot more than many may have noticed – It was a salute to Husker fans everywhere.

    Follow Erin on Twitter: @helloerinmarie
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    Tags: penn state, joe paterno, taylor martinez, rex burkhead, matt mcgloin, rob bolden, ameer abdullah, aaron green, braylon heard, tim beck, bo pelini

  3. 2011 Nov 13

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Most Valuable Huskers vs. Penn State


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By James Stevenson

    Offensive MVP: Junior I-Back Rex Burkhead was hobbled last week and didn’t look like himself. He was back this week with an explosive burst that made you wonder if he’s always been that fast, or if Penn State is just that slow.

    Burkhead paced the Huskers, rushing 25 times for 121 yards (4.8 yards per carry) and a touchdown. He also lined up for several direct snaps, and had two plays where he looked to throw the ball as well.

    Defensive MVP: Junior linebacker Will Compton has really started to perform the way many Husker fans imagined he would when he was a highly-recruited prep star. Compton led the Blackshirts with 13 total tackles, including one critical tackle for a loss on Penn State’s final drive that kept the clock running.

    Special Teams MVP: Junior punter Brett Maher was a huge difference-maker. His late-game 61-yard bomb flipped the field on Penn State, and took some of the pressure off the Blackshirts as they attempted to defend a slim three point advantage. He averaged 45 yards on eight punts, including five downed inside the 20-yard line. His 41-yard field goal proved to be the difference.

    Penn State MVP: Senior running back Stephon Green made the most of Senior Day. His 17 carries for 71 yards led the Nittany Lions and he scored both of Penn State’s touchdowns. In some ways, it was a little surprising that Penn State didn’t rely on their running game more on a day where senior quarterback Matt McGloin completed only 16 of 34 passes.

    Throwback Award - Sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez executed the offense like a veteran, but his third quarter option play was a flashback to the great Nebraska option quarterbacks of the 1990s. Taking the ball on the option to the right side, Martinez was wrapped up, but he spotted Rex Burkhead coming free as he was being tackled.

    A death-defying pitch was caught by Burkhead, and taken to the end zone to give Nebraska a three score lead. Martinez managed the game well, completing 13 of 16 passes for 143 yards, and rushing 19 times for 63 yards. His numbers would’ve been even better had Nebraska's receivers been able to hang onto the ball.

    Premature Whistle Award - A fourth quarter turnover on a handoff from Rex Burkhead to fullback Tyler Legate nearly doomed the Huskers. Despite the officials whistling the play dead and signaling possession in favor of Penn State, the Nittany Lions never recovered the fumble.

    Nebraska’s senior offensive tackle Jermarcus ‘Yoshi’ Hardrick dove on the ball, and head coach Bo Pelini tried to challenge the play. The officials said the play wasn’t reviewable, and the Nittany Lions received a much needed boost of momentum. They scored on the ensuing drive, closing the gap to three points.

    She May Not Look Like Much Award - In some ways, it was sort of an ugly win for Nebraska. The drama leading into this weekend's game made it a no-win situation.

    If the Huskers won, it would be under the cloud of the firing of Joe Paterno. Nebraska lost the yardage battle 375-331, only converted six of 16 third down conversions, and held the ball for under 30 minutes.

    In the end, the Huskers pulled out a relatively complete team win. Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead managed the game well enough, and put points up against one of the Big Ten’s best defenses. The Blackshirts did their job, getting huge stops late with the game on the line.

    Most importantly, the Huskers got a win on the road against the Leaders Division’s frontrunner and the only remaining team undefeated in Big Ten conference play. All in all, a pretty solid day, but a performance Nebraska will need to improve on before they travel to face Michigan in the Big House next week.

    Follow James on Twitter: @jamesstevenson
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    Tags: penn state, rex burkhead, will compton, taylor martinez, bo pelini, brett maher, stephon green, tyler legate, yoshi hardrick, joe paterno

  4. 2011 Nov 12

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Huskers and Penn State Share the Power of Prayer


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Erin Sorensen

    Something powerful took place in Beaver Stadium, home of the Penn State Nittany Lions, before a single snap was taken. On a beautiful November morning, players from both Nebraska and Penn State joined hands, made a circle on the 50-yard line, and prayed.

    Led by Nebraska running backs coach Ron Brown, a moment of extreme unity unfolded before a crowd of nearly 108,000 and a national audience. “I pray that this game would be a training ground for what manhood looks like,” Brown said.

    His words rang true, as both teams fought a hard, clean game. By the last play, players from both sides were shaking hands and wishing each other well.

    Tweets later praised those who were once opponents for the class and respect they were given. It was a shining moment in the wake of a great tragedy. It was more than “We Are Penn State” and “Husker Power.”

    During arguably the best press conference during his career as Nebraska’s head man, Bo Pelini respectfully addressed what had happened at Penn State.

    As a father himself, Pelini understands how heartbreaking the events that have unfolded are. However, he also recognizes that the young men who stood on the field had nothing to do with the scandal.

    On a Saturday that was originally intended to feature Penn State’s famous “White Out,” fans opted to wear blue in support of child abuse victims. It was also the Nittany Lion seniors’ final game in Happy Valley. As the 21 upperclassmen were introduced, their looks were somber.

    Tears were welling in their eyes. This is not what any of those athletes had expected their final home game as a Nittany Lion would be like when they first came to Penn State.

    It was not the day they were silently promised, with former head coach Joe Paterno leading them out of the tunnel amidst a crowd bathed in white. For those 21 individuals, so much had changed in just one week’s time.

    “I pray that this game would be a training ground for what manhood looks like.”

    Young men grew up during this game. For those who missed it, it was a grand display of maturity. It may not have been what either team was bargaining for initially, but no one complained. Instead, the teams held hands and prayed together.

    “It’s a lot bigger than football. It’s a lot bigger than the NCAA, the Big Ten, or anything else,” Pelini said.

    Behind every down of football, a bigger story unfolded. Many switched on ESPN to see how fans and players would react. No one quite expected what would happen.

    A group of those ready to begin a new chapter in their lives displayed a fine example of manhood. It was apparent in their actions, their performance, and most importantly their prayer.

    “I thought that kneeling down and praying, and both teams coming together, was the right thing to do. Hopefully that in of itself made a statement,” Pelini said.

    It did make a statement - one that will be remembered for a long time between Nebraska and Penn State players, fans, and coaches. Today, on a football field that when stripped to its core is no different than any other, a group of boys became men and millions had the privilege of watching.

    View raw video of the prayer

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    Tags: penn state, ron brown, prayer, bo pelini, espn, joe paterno

  5. 2011 Nov 12

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Top Five Things to Watch For Against Penn State


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Erin Sorensen

    It’s hard to believe that the scandal at Penn State broke only one week ago today. With the firing of longtime head coach Joe Paterno, Penn State’s football program has been in a state of severe disarray.

    Discussions of forfeiting today's game cropped up. As game day grew closer, it was apparent that the show must go on. Nebraska walks into a situation this morning that no team has experienced before. What will the Cornhuskers need to be prepared for?

    1. Pressure on Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden

    For the second week in a row, Nebraska faces a dual quarterback rotation featuring junior Matt McGloin and sophomore Rob Bolden.

    Penn State has made a living off of starting Bolden first with McGloin coming in later. However, Husker fans should be looking for the upperclassman to start against Nebraska today. Why the switch-up?

    The Nittany Lions' best decision-maker when passing is McGloin. While running is not his strong suit, he can pick apart a team’s secondary. With Nebraska’s defensive backs struggling, this presents an opportunity for the Nittany Lions to get ahead early. Don’t expect to see Bolden on the sidelines too much, though.

    With Nebraska’s inability to stop the run against Northwestern, Penn State likely will have an opportunity to run through some big holes. The front seven Blackshirts are going to have to play lights-out to guarantee Bolden goes nowhere.

    Husker fans should expect to see a much tougher defense against Penn State, though. If the defense plays to the level that they did against Michigan State, Nebraska fans should know this: That was Bo Pelini’s defense, not Carl’s.

    Depending on today’s plays, it will be quickly apparent who was in charge the last week. For the sake of this game, the Nebraska faithful better hope it’s Bo.

    2. The Ability to Adjust

    Offensive coordinator Tim Beck is a stubborn man. He’s said as much. When a play isn’t working, Beck has a tendency to call the play again hoping for a different result.

    In some cases, he works with a limited playbook as he did against Northwestern. By the end of the first half, I-Back Rex Burkhead had far more carries than he should have, yet the offense kept running similar plays.

    Beck needs to be able to adjust against Penn State. If running the ball isn’t working, it’s time to let Martinez throw quick passes to Brandon Kinnie. If the fast strikes stop working, go back to the ground game.

    The ability to adjust will be a key factor yet again. It’s been a rollercoaster ride with Beck so far. It is time he starts to level things out.

    3. Taylor Martinez’s Game Management

    Martinez played one of the best games of his career against Northwestern, if not the absolute best. Unfortunately, a poor defensive showing and a loss overshadowed it.

    The positive is that he silenced many critics one pass after another. Proving he could keep a level head, Martinez made a campaign for a comeback. Had the defense held up their end of the deal, the sophomore quarterback could have pulled it off, too.

    Against Penn State, Martinez needs to mirror his game management skills from the Northwestern game. Staying stable and keeping a level head against a defense that will be gunning for him yet again is vital.

    He needs to be a leader once more and is poised to be just that. If he can block out the pressure of this game, Martinez can build on his successes against Northwestern.

    4. The Use of Young Running Backs

    Hopefully Rex Burkhead got a lot of rest over the last week, because he will be carrying a big load over the next two away games.

    With both Penn State and Michigan to face, Burkhead’s strength, speed, and leadership will all be tested. However, it is not crucial to run him ragged. Beck should take advantage of his three young running backs at times.

    All three are capable of making big plays and a few extra rotations will not kill the offense. In fact, a little extra resting time for Burkhead might give him the ability to produce bigger numbers.

    While Superman will never say he’s tired, Beck needs to understand he can’t run his workhorse to death. Nebraska has the depth. Using it would not be a bad idea.

    5. Team Composure

    It has been nothing short of an interesting week for Nebraska. As Penn State’s world crumbled, Husker players and coaches have tried to tune everything out.

    While Pelini was quick to say his team was not going to focus on the issues at State College at all, it would be ludicrous to believe the team has absolutely no idea what they’re walking into. It is clear from their Twitter statuses alone that they know.

    Security is heightened and Tom Osborne has asked fans not to wear red. The environment will be surreal, to say the least. This is a time for Nebraska to stand together as a team like no other. When kickoff comes, we will watch as a group of young men attempt to battle intense media frenzy by playing football.

    The outcome of this game will be a telling one as Nebraska needs to win to keeps its chances at a Big Ten Championship alive. A loss would practically guarantee that a trip to Indianapolis will not happen.

    The Huskers need to find it within themselves to win a game in front of many who are not necessarily watching for the right reasons.

    Follow Erin on Twitter: @helloerinmarie
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    Tags: penn state, joe paterno, matt mcgloin, robert bolden, tim beck, bo pelini, carl pelini, taylor martinez, rex burkhead, ameer abdullah, aaron green, braylon heard, brandon kinnie, tom osborne

  6. 2011 Nov 10

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Nixing Nebraska/Penn State 2011 is Best For All Involved


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Erin Sorensen

    By the time you read this, most, if not all, of you will know that Joe Paterno has been fired as head coach of Penn State’s football team. Many of you are also aware of how students handled the news.

    For those who went to bed early, you may have seen the photos underneath a front-page headline or footage on your morning news.

    It was shocking to watch on television and read over Twitter as students tipped cars, attempted to start fires, and swarmed the streets. Through it all, a passing thought turned into a legitimate concern: Should Penn State forfeit its game against Nebraska?

    In the spirit of transparency, I believe so.

    First and foremost, this game should not happen if the safety of both teams’ players is in jeopardy. The way Penn State students chose to conduct themselves last night is a sign of what could potentially happen this weekend.

    While many argue that the students will have had time to settle down and will be much more somber, I have a hard time believing a national stage and TV cameras couldn’t rile them up again, especially with rumors of more allegations to come.

    Allowing the Nebraska Cornhuskers to walk into Happy Valley with such a potentially large safety risk involved is more than just ludicrous, it is a liability. Emotions will be high at Penn State on Saturday, and if there is any kind of risk for personal safety, the discussion ends at that.

    However, there are also rumors that the seniors of the Nittany Lions’ football team are going to sit out in protest of Paterno being fired. If this is the case, Penn State has made the decision to call the game off an easy one.

    The Nittany Lions’ players are more than welcome to sit out the contest, but they also need to understand what they could possibly be giving up. By sitting out, it would mean a forfeit is not out of the question. If that were the case, Nebraska has no reason to make the trip.

    Finally, the most important reason not to play this Saturday is because of the victims themselves. Greatly overshadowed due to last night’s events, the sufferers of the heinous acts committed are the people most needing protection.

    While Penn State players threaten to sit out, it is a testament to short-sightedness – Choosing a football coach over all of the victims and families that are suffering.

    While the players of both teams have done nothing to deserve a game being forfeited, the national exposure it will bring will only be more harmful to those harmed. The game will be outshined by scandal. What happens on the field will be a footnote to the bigger story.

    There is no escaping this. If Penn State wins, then what? There will be no national celebration. It will not be a joyous occasion.

    If Nebraska wins, the victory will feel a bit empty. There are dark clouds hovering over this game. The winner’s glory will be trumped by a story they should not be competing with. It’s as simple as that.

    Tonight was an eye-opening experience. For those who are seeing these images for the first time, it’s an odd sight, isn’t it? I grew up respecting and admiring both Penn State and Joe Paterno. I’m not sure about anyone else, but my world has been shifted over the last couple of days.

    Through this whole situation, however, I have been reminded that football is just that, football. There are much more important things in life than just one game. If Nebraska does not play this Saturday, the world will not come crumbling down.

    In the wake of one of the largest scandals in sports history, a step back may be what everyone needs. It’s time to start fixing Penn State. The institution itself is not corrupt, but rather the people in charge. If it takes cancelling one football game to get everyone back on track, so be it.

    In the meantime, thoughts and prayers go out to both the victims and their families. Game or no game, this story is much more than football. In fact, it is a story that will define sports as we know it.

    Let’s make sure we can look back on it and be proud of the decision we made.

    Follow Erin on Twitter: @helloerinmarie
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    Tags: penn state, joe paterno

  7. 2011 Sep 07

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week Two


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brian Towle

    What a great week to start off the season!. Before we move on to week two, let’s review last week’s winners and losers.


    Boise State – The Broncos went to Atlanta and throttled the Georgia Bulldogs. For a team that isn’t supposed to be able to hang with the worst of the SEC because of the conference’s supposed superiority, their performance was pretty impressive.

    LSU – Their performance against Oregon wasn’t fantastic, but they took advantage of several Oregon errors and managed the game well enough to make the final score look like a blowout.

    BYU – Starting the season in unfriendly confines for the second time in three years and winning a slugfest speaks volumes about the Cougs.

    Baylor- Robert Griffin III is the real deal.


    Auburn – The Tigers needed an onside kick and what appeared to be favorable clock operation to beat a team from the WAC? Really? Aim for the Independence Bowl, Auburn, because it’s the best you can hope for. A special round of applause goes to Tiger fans who decided to rush to the gates.

    Congratulations on leaving your team lying in the lurch before clapping and celebrating a win on your way out. Apparently the national championship shirts are getting difficult to wear from swelling heads.

    Notre Dame – The weather delays were a sign. You’re doing it wrong.

    Georgia and Ole Miss – A picture’s worth a thousand words, right? -

    Here are your week two dandies. All times listed are in CST.

    Arizona at No. 9 Oklahoma State (7 PM Thursday, ESPN)

    The fantastic duo of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon take on the Wildcats in a Thursday night tilt in Stillwater. Arizona comes into town following a beat down of Northern Arizona while Okie State took care of business against Louisiana-Lafayette. Arizona quarterback Nick Foles returns for what seems to be a ninth season, and has a talented receiver to go to in Juron Criner.

    The Wildcats did shut out Northern Arizona while Oklahoma State had some issues stopping the Raging Cajuns and Weeden did throw a pick-six. However, Weeden also threw for 388 yards. Blackmon helped pick up 144 of those. OSU sophomore Joseph Randle ran for 129 yards at 5-plus yards per carry, too.

    Boone Pickens Stadium has provided solid home field advantage for Mike Gundy, and with the knowledge that a Mike Stoops team doesn’t play well on the road, look for the Cowboys to roll to a win.

    No. 21 Missouri at Arizona State – (9:30 PM Friday, ESPN)

    Gary Pinkel takes his Tigers back to the site of the 2010 Insight Bowl debacle as Arizona State head coach Dennis Erickson and linebacker Vontaze Burfict welcome them into the desert heat. Mizzou didn’t impress anyone last week with a lackluster win over Miami of Ohio. Quarterback James Franklin didn’t look remotely as poised as his predecessors Blaine Gabbert and Chase Daniel did.

    For the Sun Devils, quarterback Brock Osweiler did well against UC-Davis until a cramp sidelined him in the third quarter. This game will depend on Franklin’s ability to improve. Defeating a MAC team at home is one thing. Going against defenders like Burfict on the road is a completely different task. Arizona State wins barely because they can run the ball better. If it’s up to Osweiler to save the day, expect struggles by both teams.

    No. 3 Alabama at No. 23 Penn State – (2:30 PM Saturday, Regional)

    Alabama played very well last week versus Kent State. Sophomore quarterback AJ McCarron will more than likely getting the starting nod again. While Nick Saban’s offense was merely efficient, the defense is back to their ball-hawking selves. Penn State didn’t get a proper test from the Indiana State Sycamores as Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin split time at quarterback.

    Joe Paterno has a difficult decision with those two. Bolden is a great talent, but McGloin seems to be the more efficient choice. Regardless, Alabama won’t be scared of Beaver Stadium. The game may be close early, but the mental toughness that Saban instills will be a huge benefit. The Crimson Tide pulls away at the end.

    No. 16 Mississippi State at Auburn – (11:21 AM Saturday, SEC Network (JP)/ESPN3.com)

    Hopefully Gene Chizik realizes that the Bulldogs are legitimate and are far from a WAC team. Dan Mullen brings his boys into Jordan Hare Stadium hoping to get a jump on the SEC West race. Mullen has quarterback Chris Reif and running back Vick Ballard, two seniors with live game time against SEC opposition.

    If freshman wide receiver Jameon Lewis can replicate the numbers he did against Memphis, Mississippi State could be dangerous. Auburn, on the other hand, played down to their competition and looked lost on both sides of the ball. Unless the Tigers improved dramatically in the span of six days, expect the Bulldogs to do well and stake their claim as legitimate SEC competition.

    BYU at No. 24 Texas – (6 PM Saturday, ESPN2)

    The final preview takes us to Austin where the Mighty Mormons invade to take on the Longhorns. Bronco Mendenhall takes super sophomore quarterback Jake Heaps into a second-straight brutal environment. On paper, the Cougars and Longhorns appear to be equals. Texas didn’t look great early on against Rice, but looked far more polished in the second half.

    The locals were not impressed and know that BYU is a very dangerous team to test quarterback Garrett Gilbert and wide receiver Mike Davis against. With running back Malcolm Brown toting the rock, the Longhorns are talented, but young on offense. Jake Heaps is very raw but incredibly talented, and will likely outperform Gilbert. Don’t be shocked if BYU wins, possibly by more than a score.

    Coaches on the Hot Seat:

    Houston Nutt, Mississippi: Well done, coach. You apparently didn’t take another home opener seriously, and BYU made you look silly. The pick-six thrown on 3rd and 23 cemented that. Your game against Southern Illinois is a must win.

    Mark Richt, Georgia: Fans across the nation knew you might be in trouble against Boise, but Aaron Murray should give you hope. That said, starting the season 0-2 by losing to South Carolina would be near-fatal.

    Rick Neuheisel, UCLA: San Jose State is a welcome sight at the Rose Bowl. You’d better beat them so that people might forget how good you made Case Keenum look last week.

    Mike Riley, Oregon State: Sacramento State? You lost a lot, but come on, man. Wisconsin is going to destroy you this week.

    Mike Locksley, New Mexico: The good news is that you kept Colorado State to 14 points. The bad news is that you could only muster 10. Bobby Petrino can easily hang 70 on your nose.

    Bonus Conference Official – Dan Beebe, Big 12 Commissioner: It’s not your fault that Texas A&M, Nebraska, and Colorado left you or that Oklahoma and Oklahoma State want new partners. Repeat that while staring into the mirror and it just might be believable.

    Follow Brian on Twitter: @btbowling
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    Tags: college football, boise state, lsu, georgia, ole miss, auburn, notre dame, brandon weeden, justin blackmon, nick foles, joseph randle, mike gundy, mike stoops, gary pinkel, missouri, arizona state, brock osweiler, james franklin, chase daniel, blaine gabbert, vontaze burfict, miami of ohio, alabama, penn state, aj mccarron, nick saban, rob bolden, matt mcgloin, indiana state, joe paterno, gene chizik, mississippi state, texas, byu, houston nutt, mark richt, rick neuheisel, mike locksley, dan beebe, big 12

  8. 2011 Jun 24

    Big Ten Coaches on the Hot Seat - Leaders Division


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brian Towle

    It’s time once again to examine the hottest seats of today’s college football coaches and today we’re concentrating on the Big Ten. The heat of the seats is determined by a combination of tenure time, career & school records, recruiting, attitude of the fans, salary and upcoming schedule.

    The “hotness” is measured on a scale of 1-10 with a “1” meaning “completely safe” and “10” meaning “don’t sit down for fear of immediate third-degree burns.” Having a realtor and moving company on speed dial is strongly advised.

    Joe Paterno, Penn State: 1

    JoePa isn’t going to leave until he’s darn well ready to. Amazingly, he doesn't have a large salary (barely over $1.5 million per year) and has shown time and time again that he can coach the Nittany Lions back from poor performances.

    A few voices have popped up as of late following underachieving seasons calling for him to retire. Unless Penn State freefalls and has a four or five-win season, the squawks will be dismissed. Of course, Paterno isn't getting any younger. However, if you can use Skype with a computer monitor that’s larger than some third world countries’ GNP to identify with kids at age 84, you’ll get some good ones to come to Penn State!

    Bret Bielema, Wisconsin: 2

    Bielema is another coach that isn't going anywhere soon. Wisky is fresh off a Rose Bowl berth and has a chance to land coveted one-year wonder quarterback Russell Wilson. If this happens, Russell will add more spice to a offense that lives on ball control. Bielema’s young (40) and makes a fair $1.6 million per season.

    He would have to rack up a string of seasons producing only six wins or so to be in trouble. That seems to be a stretch considering he has a record of 49-16. It also helps that the man he succeeded is his Athletic Director (Barry Alvarez).

    Kevin Wilson, Indiana: 2

    Because of his recruiting acumen, the staff that he’s acquired and the team that he inherited, Wilson’s ranking's going to start off low. He showed that he can run an offense at Oklahoma as he helped Sam Bradford carry the Heisman Trophy back to Norman.

    Wilson's offense has bounced between a pro set and a spread through the years. He’s recruited well and has a great staff especially on defense. Indiana wasn't too far away from being a successful team last year and there is a good chance the Hoosiers can start the year 4-0.

    Their toughest game during the non-conference stretch is a tussle at night versus Virginia. Wilson is starting low on the pay scale ($1.1 million) and will definitely reap further rewards if he can get Indiana to a bowl game this fall.

    Danny Hope, Purdue: 5

    The seat is a little hotter in West Lafayette as Danny Hope heads into his third year with impatience growing in the fan base. Going just 9-15 at Purdue will do that after the successes of Joe Tiller.

    Hope doesn’t make much ($900K per season), but has had success before as he went 35-22 at Eastern Kentucky before coming to Purdue. Injuries ravaged the Boilermakers last year especially at running back. There is some hope for Hope and if Purdue can better last year’s results then there’s little doubt that he’ll return for 2012.

    Luke Fickell, Ohio State: 7

    Fickell is being thrown into a white hot Pennsylvania steel mill fire in 2011 following the firing of Jim Tressel and the loss of talented yet troubled Quarterback Terrell Pryor. Fickell was considered the Head Coach-in-Waiting once Tressel retired, but was forced into the job more quickly than he was probably comfortable with.

    2011 is one big job interview for Fickell to see if he can right the ship and help Ohio State weather the storm. He may not even have a chance to keep his job beyond this season considering athletic director Geno Smith will more than likely be gone by the end of the year. Ficknell is going to be compensated well ($1.5 million) and could be a bargain if he performs well enough to bring some overall respect back to Columbus.

    Ron Zook, Illinois: 9.9

    The one seat that is being fueled by an exclusive line connected to a propane tank is Zook's at Illinois. He has underachieved in Champagne just as much as he did in Gainesville. Having a career record of 51-59, his Illinois record of 28-45 and collecting a yearly salary of $1.6 million per season for those results isn't a good return on a school's investment.

    What saved him last year was the improvements that his team made through the season with Nathan Scheelhaase and others. That being said, there is no depth behind Scheelhaase and every Nebraska fan knows what it like to have your all-everything quarterback go down without much depth behind them.

    Zook must get the same performance out of his running backs that he got from Mikel Leshoure last year. If he can’t improve on last year's record and return to a bowl, his will be one of the first pink slips handed out this year.

    Legends Division

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    Tags: joe paterno, bret bielema, kevin wilson, danny hope, ron zook, luke fickell

  9. 2011 May 19

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Blackshirts vs. The Big 10 - Part 1


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brian Towle

    One thing that Nebraska fans have been quietly confident about this off-season is the match-up of the Blackshirts versus several Big Ten offenses. With the success of the Nebraska defense against teams that run "spread" offenses in the Big 12 like Missouri, some fans might forget that the Big Ten offers more "traditional" two-back power looks.

    The Cornhuskers’ defense defended against the standard four or five-wide receiver offenses of their former conference by utilizing Dejon Gomes in the hybrid “Peso” position. Starting this year, Nebraska will be using three-linebacker sets leaving the secondary with more traditional match-ups against two wide outs, a tight end and potential running backs.

    Let’s look at a few Big Ten teams that will face Nebraska in 2011:

    Ohio State: Last year, the Buckeyes ran the ball very well (No. 14 in FBS with 220 YPG) and actually had fairly good balance with Terrelle Pryor completing over 65 percent of his passes for 2,772 yards. The Buckeyes will be the most interesting team on the schedule leading up to the big game in Lincoln on October 8. With the coming suspensions of Pryor and head coach Jim Tressel, who calls the team’s plays, Nebraska might be somewhat unsure of how to defend the Buckeyes.

    Ohio State will likely stay very conservative with their play-calling primarily because backup Joe Bauserman didn’t calm the nerves of the folks in Columbus. The Cornhuskers might set up Lavonte David as a spy for Pryor for the entire game. Because of how Tressel runs his offense, he might try to counter David with a bevy of running between the tackles. Defending the inside run was a tall order for the Cornhuskers at times last season.

    Wisconsin: This is an intriguing match-up. Losing Scott Tolzien hurts the Badgers as he was arguably the most effective game manager in the Big Ten outside of Pryor. The news of Russell Wilson potentially joining Wisconsin this fall adds some extra intrigue. Wisconsin has an effective running game and can dominate at the line of scrimmage. Running back James White was a stud as a freshman.

    If Wilson does join the team, it will be interesting to see how Bret Bielema uses a player with solid physical skills but limited knowledge of the system. Nebraska has made a living out of destroying quarterbacks similar to Wilson (See: Blaine Gabbert and Jake Locker). The Cornhuskers will have to go against another very potent inside running game as the Badgers bring the wood.

    Penn State: The split at quarterback is the main point of interest here. Robert Bolden is a very talented kid, but also someone that clearly wants to be the starter in Happy Valley. Joe Paterno threw him to the wolves against a vicious Alabama defense last year and it wasn't pretty. Matthew McGloin filled in halfway through the season and gave the Nittany Lions a shot in the arm during their last two games.

    He threw for over 300 yards passing against both Indiana and Michigan State before a disappointing outing against Florida in the Outback Bowl. Penn State wasn’t a very good rushing team last year either even with Evan Royster rushing for over 1,000 yards.

    If there is a team that Nebraska will use the Peso against, it’s the Nittany Lions. Unless there is a heavy turnaround rushing the ball, there will be times when Penn State will go with three and four wide receivers to create space. They might not run these formations well, but they may not have a choice but to try them.

    Tags: big ten, big 10, ohio state, buckeyes, wisconsin, penn state, blackshirts, alfonzo dennard, lavonte david, bret bielema, joe paterno, jim tressel, terrelle pryor

  10. 2010 Dec 13

    Husker Heartbeat 12/13: The Coaching Carousel


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Welcome to Husker Heartbeat - a sampling of links and quick wit to start your morning! Keep checking each morning, Monday-Friday, for new links! We look for the offbeat as well as the straightforward - so don’t just think of us as a typical link farm!

    A quick abbreviation key FYI: OWH=Omaha World-Herald, LJS=Lincoln Journal-Star, CN=Corn Nation, BRN=Big Red Network, HI=Huskers Illustrated, BRR=Big Red Report. If we need to add more - we will. Others, like ESPN, are self-explanatory.

    *LJS Sipple's Monday column includes an emotional Bo Pelini.

    *Will Muschamp heads to Florida, Gus Malzahn goes to Vanderbilt, Al Golden goes to Miami while Northern Illinois plucked Wisconsin's defensive coordinator.

    *Arkansas has some of its prospective recruits pose in team photos with personalized jerseys. You can't do that, folks.

    *Joe Paterno seriously plans to coach 5 or 6 more years.

    *Not a word from the Michigan AD on RichRod.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, bo pelini, steve sipple, big ten, joe paterno, will muschamp, richrod

  11. 2010 Aug 05

    Husker Heartbeat 8/5: Big Ten, Doc, JoePa, Jamal Turner and Suh


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Welcome to Husker Heartbeat - a sampling of links and quick wit to start your morning! Keep checking each morning, Monday-Friday, for new links! We look for the offbeat as well as the straightforward - so don’t just think of us as a typical link farm!

    A quick abbreviation key FYI: OWH=Omaha World-Herald, LJS=Lincoln Journal-Star, CN=Corn Nation, BRN=Big Red Network, HI=Huskers Illustrated, BRR=Big Red Report. If we need to add more - we will. Others, like ESPN, are self-explanatory.

    *Shatel's on our side now for a geographic split of the Big Ten. Remember: We've been lobbying for this for months.

    *Another profile on Husker stud recruit Jamal Turner.

    *Ten minutes with Joe Paterno.

    *A blogger hijacks a conference callfor the Oregon State-TCU game.

    *Suh gets right to it in Lions camp.

    *The gym has been kind to the Husker hoops team.

    Tags: recruiting, jamal turner, big ten, joe paterno, tom shatel, ndamukong suh, mens basketball, brian diaz, toney mccray

  12. 2010 Aug 03

    Husker Heartbeat 8/3: A Sampling of Big Ten Media Days


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Welcome to Husker Heartbeat - a sampling of links and quick wit to start your morning! Keep checking each morning, Monday-Friday, for new links! We look for the offbeat as well as the straightforward - so don’t just think of us as a typical link farm!

    A quick abbreviation key FYI: OWH=Omaha World-Herald, LJS=Lincoln Journal-Star, CN=Corn Nation, BRN=Big Red Network, HI=Huskers Illustrated, BRR=Big Red Report. If we need to add more - we will. Others, like ESPN, are self-explanatory.

    *On the 1st day of Big Ten Media Days, Jim Delany shows why he's running the show. Chatter from Chicago and Ann Arbor. What other journalists said about Nebraska.

    *Was JoePa sick at Big Ten Media Days?

    *Ndamukong Suh remains a holdout. LJS Sipple thinks Suh needs to get to camp.

    *More on NU's new assistant basketball coach, Tracey Webster.

    *A key defensive player for Oklahoma State is charged with assault.

    *Idaho is all fired up after Boise State's president ripped the school and the town of Moscow.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, big ten, big ten media days, idaho, oklahoma state, joe paterno, steve sipple

  13. 2010 Aug 02

    BIG TEN MEDIA DAYS: The Chicago Way


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Photo from the Big Ten Conference.

    They take three days, you take one. They wear short-sleeve shirts, you wear suits. Their commissioner scratches behind his ear a lot, grins and holds together a fragile band of malcontents, your commissioner holds court for a half-hour, never cracks a smile, seems to know the questions before they’re asked and uses words like “contiguity.”

    The Big 12 does Dallas. The Big Ten? That’s the Chicago Way.

    It was precisely as it should be, Big Ten Media Days, a simple, delicious amuse-bouche that didn’t contain a lot of horse manure and had a TV network with hosts and commentary and factoids and stats and everything.

    Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany spoke last Monday, yet set the tone for the event; his fingerprints are all over the league. There’s a harmonious efficiency to the way the Big Ten runs that only Penn State Joe Paterno can derail for 15 minutes or so, answering questions about lower intestines, his gravestone epitaph and horsing around with college students outside his house.

    He remembered playing Nebraska - in the 1950s. While an assistant at Penn State. Against Bobby Reynolds, even if he called him “Billy.”

    “We've had a good relationship with them,” Paterno said. “So it was good to see them get in the Big Ten. And I'm looking forward to spending a little time with Tom (Osborne) especially since he's here. Maybe we get a chance to visit a little bit.”

    And then this gem on dealing with boosters:

    “When I go around talking to people about money, I said I want your money but I don't want your two cents,” Paterno said.

    JoePa, one of college football’s last codgers, is allowed his eccentricity - a clever means of deflecting attention from his young Lions.

    In a sense, Paterno is the reason Husker fans paid attention to the Big Ten.

    As the league’s loudest proponent of expansion and a conference title game, he kept planting that seed in the heads of Big Ten athletic directors and presidents, who, like Tree Ents, can be slow to decide, but quick to act once they do. When the Big Ten went “dark” for the final two weeks of the 2009 college football season - leaving the stage to the SEC and the Big 12 - and Paterno again expressed his displeasure, the Big Ten shifted into gear and chose to “explore” expansion.

    Eight months later, here we are.

    After a “pause,” this fall, the Big Ten could get bigger, Delany said. Presidents will meet in the fall and again in December and decide. Notre Dame appears to be out - or at least the Irish are in Delany’s mind.

    “I see Notre Dame playing in the Big East for many years to come,” Delany said. “And I see Notre Dame playing as an independent in football for many years to come.”

    Here’s more takeaways from Big Ten Media Days:

    *Nebraska is still a national brand in college football. And Big Ten Network chairman Mark Silverman explained it perfectly.

    “Nebraska is as big ticket a football market nationally as there is,” Silverman said. “And being able to show Nebraska football games on our network is going to greatly increase the relevance of the network and the distribution of the network nationally over time, like few other schools would.”

    NU’s TV ratings are consistently good, and just because Rutgers, Syracuse (or even Missouri) exist in bigger markets doesn’t necessarily mean fans in those states are tuning in. As much as networks - especially ESPN - try to create ratings in large markets regardless of a team’s success, fans still cling to handful of traditional teams - the Green Bay Packers, the St. Louis Cardinals - that have a permanent spot in the psyche of their respective sports. NU is one of those teams.

    *Bret Bielema really wants that Nebraska game. And bully to the Wisconsin coach for pursuing it.

    “They bring so much value to the conference,” he said. “You can’t buy anything like that.”

    Those two years Bielema spent at Kansas State left some kind of impression - even if KSU splattered NU in 2002 (48-13) and 2003 (38-9) when he was co-defensive coordinator in Manhattan.

    Osborne suggested Iowa and Minnesota as potential rivals, and, with Dr. Tom, you’re never sure just how “offhand” that comment is. It’ll probably get blown up into “crossing off” the Badgers when Osborne was probably just ticking off the two closest schools.

    *Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald cuts a sharp figure. Smart, poised and positive. Not too falsely formal, like Minnesota’s Tim Brewster, but polished for his young age of 35. Keep an eye there. The Wildcats can’t keep him for long with their facilities and difficult academic standards.

    *Rich Rodriguez has it tough, but he doesn’t make it easy. On himself, that is. Michigan's coach just has the movements and facial expressions of a nervous, shifty guy who doesn’t even trust his own words. He’s trying to be sincere, but he comes off - jittery. Sensitive. Open, on-field spats with players - who argue back - don't help. Smart offensive coach. Needs a nine-win year.

    *The divisions will be done before the season kicks off. Delany said it could 30-45 days. Bet it’s done in 20. The Big Ten sets a deadline, then beats it. And I suspect the decision comes down to whether the Big Ten can really stick with the geographical split, or the research department finds a flaw in that methodology. The perception is that Penn State is the league’s third-best program. We’ll see if that becomes reality despite a decade of football that argues otherwise.

    *Delany’s parameters for creating divisions still arguably favors a straight east-west split. But I’d count on the Big Ten strongly considering a pair with Nebraska and Penn State. Delany said he’d analyze a boatload of data on all the programs back to 1993 - “the modern Big Ten,” as the commish put it - which shines the best possible light on Wisconsin (which headed to its first Rose Bowl in 1993) but exposes Iowa, Illinois and Northwestern to some brutal stretches.

    *If Delany wants a nine-game conference schedule, he’ll get it. The commish had a timeline - “no later than four years” - and a strong rationale: Fans and players prefer the higher level of competition, even if that means an extra road game. Coaches probably don’t, of course, but coaches aren’t necessarily the primary concern of a conference. While losing a home game hurts - it’s about $2.5 million per for Nebraska, more, perhaps, for a game like Texas - the payouts for scheduling non-BCS teams is getting ridiculous, and more Big Ten games mean a better TV deal with ESPN/ABC and a higher subscriber fee from the Big Ten Network.

    The Pac-10 operates on a nine-game slate - don’t see it changing, either - while the Big 12 will shortly. And Delany had too many concrete details not to eventually prevail.

    *A nine-game schedule allows some flexibility in creating divisions. And expect Delany to make that argument over the next two weeks as Big Ten athletic directors hash out “segmentation.” The league is less likely to lose rivalry games if it designates two “annual” opponents from a different division. Minnesota and Wisconsin could be split, for example, but still battle each for the Paul Bunyan Axe.

    *Look for Indy in year one of the Big Ten Championship. Delany indicated that the league’s plate may be too full to perform “due diligence” on “six or seven sites” before December, so the Big Ten may opt for a just-get-it-done site in 2011. Lucas Oil Stadium, the newest palace in Big Ten country, is the easiest fit. Indianapolis is readymade for big events, the dome is TV friendly, and while Lambeau Field would be my choice, Lucas Oil cuts down on the “potential disaster” factor.

    Tags: big ten, big ten media days, wisconsin, joe paterno, penn state, iowa, jim delany, big ten network

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