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  1. 2011 Dec 28

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Audible Audibles Feat. James Corley of the OU Daily


    By HuskerLocker

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    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, James Corley, editor of The Oklahoma Daily stops by for some good old-fashioned Husker-Sooner banter.

    Topics include:

    - Corley's take on Nebraska
    - A look at the Huskers' inaugural Big Ten season from the Big 12 perspective
    - Oklahoma's troublesome 2011 season
    - Rex Burkhead for Heisman in 2012
    - Mike Stoops' presence on the Huskers' sideline
    - Travis Lewis Twittergate
    - Why OU's Landry Jones likely isn't headed to the NFL
    - And more!

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

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    Tags: oklahoma, big 12, rex burkhead, mike stoops, travis lewis, landry jones

  2. 2011 Dec 11

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Sunday Husker Conversation


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    Neil Raus: Who is going to replace Carl (Pelini)?

    BC: That’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it? The three names everyone has been tossing around are Mike Stoops, Ron Zook and John Papuchis. I think you can pretty well cross Papuchis off of that list as promoting another coach to learn a high-level position on the job isn’t a good move by Pelini.

    Peter Bruno: Who’s the next quarterback after Martinez?

    BC: Rex Burkhead. Seriously. With the lack of playing time that you saw Brion Carnes get, it’s pretty obvious who the No. 1 guy is, but let’s say Martinez went down. I think you’d see something similar to 2010 when Burkhead stepped in as a Wildcat quarterback.

    Kaleb Henry: How many conference championships will be won this year and which sport will be the first to win a national championship in the Big Ten era?

    BC: Well, the volleyballers already notched one. I could see some track and field titles, maybe softball and even baseball if some luck graces Darin Erstad’s first year. When it comes to national titles, I’d give the volleyball team the inside track.

    Lance Badousek: If we don't win a conference championship next year how much longer will Bo have a job?

    BC: That depends on how bad any losses are and if Nebraska looks just plain out of it like they did against Northwestern this season. That kind of performance will get you a loss in the Big Ten nearly every time. It seems like Pelini’s teams are good for a few surprising wins and a few shocking losses. 2012’s schedule doesn’t get any easier, either.

    Patrick Farrell: When will we find out about the new defensive coordinator?

    BC: I’m honestly surprised we haven’t already.

    Beverly Kay: What's next for Turner Gill?

    BC: At this point, I think a trip back to the mid-majors would do Turner well. It’s a shame he didn’t snag the UAB job as he’d do well there. If he can coach Buffalo up, I’d trust him with about any mid-major. I know what you’re thinking and I severely doubt he’ll be back at Nebraska as long as Bo is head coach.

    Shane McKinney: When we get to our usual 17 points against South Carolina, will we once again shut down the offense?

    BC: It’s possible. Watch for a heavy dose of Burkhead as Carolina’s strength is defending the pass. They’re a little more susceptible to a powerful running game. Alfonzo Dennard is going up against one of the best receivers in the country in Alshon Jeffery, but Jeffery’s playing with a busted finger. Dennard still needs to treat him like he’s 100 percent. The lack of South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore really evens the playing field.

    Caleb Gorham: Can we have another Tom Osborne?

    BC: Another T.O. will never come along. Not for Nebraska or anyone else. Coach Osborne’s a special guy on a number of levels. There will be new coaching masterminds, but only one Tom Osborne.

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    Tags: taylor martinez, rex burkhead, mike stoops, ron zook, john papuchis, carl pelini, brion carnes, darin erstad, turner gill, south carolina, alshon jeffery, alfonzo dennard, tom osborne

  3. 2011 Dec 10

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Bowl Season Thoughts


    By HuskerLocker

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    The Husker Locker staff will be presented a number of questions addressing various aspects of each week in the world of college football all season long.

    This week:

    Three names seem to be at the top of the list to replace Carl Pelini as defensive coordinator: Mike Stoops, Ron Zook and John Papuchis. Who’s your pick and why?

    James: I'm torn between Ron Zook and Mike Stoops. I think Mike is probably the better defensive coach, but Zook might be the stronger recruiter. Then again, was Zook's recruiting success due to his former recruiting coordinator Mike Locksley?

    I think the doubt about Zook's true recruiting prowess leads me to Stoops. Ultimately though, this is Bo Pelini's defense, the real key to me is bringing in a guy who is killer at coaching a position, can take some of the film breakdown and basic gameplanning off of Bo's plate, and will recruit like crazy.

    Erin: Luke Fickell.

    Just kidding. I can dream though, right? I'd take Mike Stoops, even though I'm fairly positive one ref would go deaf every game from being yelled at by the Pelini/Stoops combo. The two of them are so similar, so maybe Ron Zook is the better option?

    Moral of the story: Not John Papuchis.

    Brandon: I’m high on Zook and have been since I heard his name was a possibility. He can walk into Lincoln and make an immediate impact as a recruiter which is something the program desperately needs. His connections throughout the Big Ten won’t totally nullify Urban Meyer’s advances, but Zook’s been around the block and knows how to play ball.

    He’s got experience with the secondary, so I could see him helping Corey Raymond continue to grow and he’d be able to handle a number of the duties that Bo simply doesn’t care for. It seems like a win-win to me.

    What are your thoughts on the Capital One Bowl matchup with South Carolina?

    James: It's not as bad of a match-up as it initially appears. South Carolina has a nasty and stout pass defense, but is soft against the power running game. Big opportunity there, especially with a healthy offensive line and rested Rex Burkhead.

    Bo Pelini, with a month to gameplan and install said gameplan, should wring out a great game from the Blackshirts. I think Nebraska's in for a physical brawl down in Orlando. The team should be jacked for this game against a good SEC team, unlike last year's Holiday Bowl.

    Erin: Another Big Ten-SEC matchup and this one should be interesting. South Carolina has a great defense and will definitely give our offense a tough time. Hopefully Taylor Martinez can replicate how he played in the second half of Ohio State here. If he can, it should make for a win. It'll be close, but a good game.

    Brandon: Couldn't love it more. I spoke to some Capital One Bowl representatives earlier in the season and mentioned the possibility of this matchup when asked who I’d like to see Nebraska face if they went to Orlando.

    The storylines are plentiful: Spurrier-Nebraska, Alshon Jeffery-Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska’s offense versus South Carolina’s defense (the gamecocks are No. 2 in pass defense and No 13 in scoring defense). No matter how you slice it, this game’s awesome. I wish Marcus Lattimore would be suiting up for the Gamecocks, though.

    How do you feel about the BCS’ selection of LSU-Alabama for the national championship?

    James: From a pure perspective of the BCS existing to ensure the top two teams play for the national championship, this is the correct decision. From a "fairness" and "watchable" perspective, it's a bit of a bummer. I would've loved to have seen Oklahoma State get a chance to play in this game.

    The fact that LSU already beat Alabama (at home), means the Crimson Tide doesn't really deserve another shot at this game. On the other hand, it's going to be fun to watch these teams go at each other with a whole 5-plus weeks to prepare for this game. How sick must you be if you're Boise State's kicker though? If they beat TCU, I think the Broncos might've played for the title.

    Erin: Well, I know it's not ideal. Most people wanted Oklahoma State to face LSU. Unfortunately, Okie State held up their ticket to the National Championship and let Iowa State snatch it from their grasp, then burn it. It was one loss, but it was a defining loss. Alabama lost to the No. 1 team in the country. OSU lost to Iowa State. So like it or not, the BCS says this is what is.

    But if you want to talk playoffs...

    Brandon: The BCS is what it is. It technically did its job. The problem with computers is that there will still be human input (See: garbage in, garbage out). Alabama and Oklahoma State can (and probably will) argue over their rightful place in the BCS National Championship Game, but honestly I can’t say Team X should be in without noting the case for Team Y.

    I was happy to hear that the Plus-One model is being looked at seriously and while I don’t think it’ll be implemented immediately, I’d like to see it as a part college football’s post-season ASAP.

    Which players do you feel have the most to gain/lose in terms of draft stock against USC?

    James: I don't think anyone can change their position too much at this point. Brandon Kinnie could potentially elevate his worth a bit. Lavonte is probably late first/early second and if he plays really well in this game, he might help secure a first round spot. I think Dennard is pretty locked in where he's going to be. I don't see this as make or break for most of the players, though maybe some of the fringe seniors could make a statement for a late round draft choice with a big game.

    Erin: Alfonzo Dennard. I think Lavonte David has more than sealed up his fate in the NFL, but Dennard needs another strong game. He'll be drafted, but this game will determine how high he goes.

    Also, Brandon Kinnie will need a big game. It's been a rough season for the senior wide receiver, but he's proven that he has the strength and speed to play his position. If he can make one more big outing, it could create some buzz that he desperately needs.

    Brandon: Right now, I think things are pretty well set. A loss to Nebraska, no matter the size, isn’t going to hurt an SEC player. Guys like Alfonzo Dennard and Lavonte David have nowhere to go but up as they’ve been scouted all season long, made highlight reels, heck David is a first-team All-American during his second year of FBS football.

    It’s a shame that Crick isn’t able to step in, but he’ll have his opportunities down the line and will still likely make a good chunk of change on Sundays.

    Follow the panel on Twitter:

    Brandon: @eightlaces
    Erin: @helloerinmarie
    James: @jamesstevenson

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    Tags: capital one bowl, ron zook, john papuchis, mike stoops, alfonzo dennard, lavonte david, brandon kinnie, taylor martinez, jared crick

  4. 2011 Dec 09

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Three Names Top New Nebraska Defensive Coordinator List


    By HuskerLocker

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    By James Stevenson

    Carl Pelini is preparing to ride off to the sunny Floridian peninsula to become the head coach of Florida Atlantic and the Huskers now look to fill the vacancy he leaves behind. Bo Pelini is certainly the principal architect behind the defense, and will look for someone who can accent his scheme.

    The hire should tell us a lot about what Bo values most importantly heading into next season. Will he look for a defensive guru to complement his scheme, help with game-planning and play-calling?

    What position will the defensive coordinator coach? Perhaps the new guy is an ace recruiting coach who can bolster one of the staff’s biggest weaknesses or maybe a “big name” and possibly one from outside the Pelini circle will take over. Will Pelini stick with loyal and trusted lieutenants, even if they may not be the best available choice?

    Here are the three main names that stick out as legitimate candidates for the defensive coordinator position at Nebraska:

    Mike Stoops - Perhaps the most coveted defensive coordinator on the market right now, Mike Stoops is freshly removed as head coach of the Arizona Wildcats.

    Prior to that, he served on his brother Bob Stoops’s staff at Oklahoma as defensive coordinator. This is almost a trifecta for Nebraska, an excellent defensive coach, a good recruiter and someone very familiar with Bo Pelini and his family.

    The challenge in making this hire is that he’s a hot commodity. Ohio State and Oklahoma have both been rumored to offer him the position, though in both cases he’d be co-defensive coordinator.

    There are also many mid-major head coaching jobs available which might take a chance on a BCS-level head coach despite his efforts with the Wildcats.Stoops is probably undervalued right now due to a brutal stretch of 10 games in Arizona against exceptionally high caliber opposition.

    Ron Zook - Bo Pelini’s position coach at Ohio State, Zook brings some immediate name recognition and credibility to any school he joins. The former head coach of Florida and Illinois, Zook is well-known for his unorthodox style.

    His Gator recruiting classes helped set up Urban Meyer’s national championship runs, and he’s generally regarded as an excellent recruiter. Some would argue then-recruiting coordinator and now former New Mexico head coach Mike Locksley deserves the credit for Meyer's stacked cupboard, though.

    Zook is an interesting possibility for Nebraska. He'd bring in expertise in coaching safeties and defensive backs, and could certainly handle some defensive responsibilities for Pelini. Bo knows him well with their relationship dating back to his own playing days, adding a level of comfort. Zook could very well ignite a spark to help Nebraska bring in a few more top-rated recruits each year, too.

    John Papuchis: Nebraska’s current defensive line/special teams coach and recruiting coordinator is widely regarded as a rising star in the coaching world. Will Muschamp tried to lure him to Florida to reportedly become the defensive coordinator, but “JP” stayed in Lincoln. Given that, you might wonder if Pelini feels indebted to offer the defensive coordinator title to Papuchis.

    It’s unclear whether he’s is capable of handling the role, especially at a school like Nebraska. He has done a reasonably good job with both special teams and in his recruiting role. The issues with Nebraska’s recruiting appear to come from the top, rather than Papuchis himself.

    This would also fit the Bo Pelini model that resulted in Tim Beck’s promotion to offensive coordinator, rather than going outside the program for a candidate like Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris.

    If Bo does go with the loyal an trusted internal candidate, he’ll need to then need to make a second hire, while also reassigning the other coordinator responsibilities. In theory, the new position coach brought in would need to be able to take on a large share of the recruiting duties. That new coach could also take on a special teams role or those responsibilities could be reassigned to an existing coach.

    Regardless of if one of these three names is brought on, it’s clear that three roles need to be filled. First, the Huskers need someone who can handle some of the defensive game-planning and organization on behalf of Bo in order to allow him to continue to tackle the CEO role.

    Secondly, this staff desperately needs more recruiting expertise and follow-through when locking up prospects during the regular season. Finally, the new staff member needs to be someone who can be trusted by Bo Pelini to a point that they can do their job effectively.

    All three (pending the hire to replace Papuchis) could do this. But who will Bo offer to the position to? Furthermore, would a candidate like Mike Stoops accept? Stay tuned.

    Follow James on Twitter: @jamesstevenson
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    Tags: mike stoops, ron zook, john papuchis

  5. 2011 Dec 07

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Huskers Coaching Search Q&A


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    We reached out to Pete Roussel of CoachingSearch.com to get his take on who Nebraska should tab to replace the departed Carl Pelini, his thoughts on current Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini and the staff as a whole.

    BC: How do you see Carl Pelini’s departure from Nebraska in terms of positives/negatives from both Nebraska and Florida Atlantic’s perspectives?

    PR: It’s about players. As long as Bo Pelini is coaching Nebraska, they will maximize the talent on defense. Don’t expect a big change in philosophy or scheme. A new coordinator will come in, however, and tweak some drills, techniques, and terminology.

    BC: With Carl Pelini’s departure, who are some candidates that you feel would fit the defensive coordinator role for the Huskers well?

    PR: There won’t be a shortage of quality candidates because coaches know that Bo Pelini is always going to pour resources into the Huskers’ defense. There is a commitment to being great on defense in Lincoln and that’s what coaches want. I’d be surprised if Mike Stoops doesn’t land the job. Coaches are always comfortable with people they know. Illinois interim head coach Vic Koenning could be another option.

    BC: Do you think there’s a possibility that Bo Pelini may hire from within, perhaps moving current defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator John Papuchis to defensive coordinator?

    PR: I expect Bo to go outside the staff on this hire.

    BC: How good of a fit do you feel Bo Pelini is for Nebraska?

    PR: Bo Pelini fits Nebraska. You can tell in media interviews when coaches don’t take ownership in their university or state. I get sense that at all from Pelini.

    BC: With Urban Meyer taking over at Ohio State, do you see him staying at Nebraska until Meyer departs?

    PR: Urban Meyer will be at Ohio State for a long time. I think it’s safe to say Ohio State will be his last job.

    BC: Do you feel that Nebraska has the coaching staff necessary to win a national championship?

    PR: Expectations are always high at Nebraska. Any team that wins eleven or twelve games has the ball bounce their way a little bit. Yes, they do create those opportunities, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of to win nine games. Think about how many games come down to the last two to three minutes in college football.

    Keep winning nine, ten, nine, ten (games) and then you’ll have your special season. I think Nebraska has a better chance to play for a national championship in the Big Ten than when they were in the Big 12. Stay the course. Get two or three more game changers in there and you may earn your way into a BCS game.

    Follow Pete on Twitter: @coachingsearch
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    Tags: bo pelini, carl pelini, mike stoops, urban meyer, ohio state

  6. 2011 Dec 07

    Husker Heartbeat 12/07: Stoops to Nebraska?, Reed's Few Appearances and Pinnacle Bank Arena is Already Money


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Former Arizona head coach Mike Stoops would consider filling Nebraska's defensive coordinator slot if offered

    - Tight end Kyler Reed doesn't show up often, but he makes the most of his opportunities

    - Five Huskers who should've hoisted the Heisman, but didn't

    - Nebraska's newly-dubbed Pinnacle Bank Arena wound up with a great deal for naming rights considering the size of the venue

    - A new conference and off-court distractions wore on the Nebraska volleyball team

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    Tags: mike stoops, kyler reed, pinnacle bank arena, volleyball

  7. 2011 Dec 06

    Husker Heartbeat 12/06: Pelini vs. Pelini, Lavonte David's Special Honor and Big Red Helps Set Record


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - It'll be Pelini vs. Pelini in 2014 as Florida Atlantic and Nebraska will clash

    - Lavonte David became the first Nebraska linebacker in 11 years to be named a first team All-American

    - A hot name among the replacements for Carl Pelini: Mike Stoops

    - Former Husker assistant and North Dakota State head coach Craig Bohl sings the praises of a college football playoff

    - Thanks to the Huskers, the Big Ten conference is sending a record 10 teams bowling this year

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    Tags: bo pelini, carl pelini, lavonte david, mike stoops, craig bohl, big ten

  8. 2011 Oct 14

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week Seven


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brian Towle

    Week seven has arrived in the 2011 season. While some match-ups this week should be entertaining, there’s a plethora of good games down the line. However, we can’t get to the future until we visit the present. Let's examine the week that was -


    Oklahoma – Questions, anyone? The woodshed built on the 50-yard line of the Cotton Bowl should remind you why this team is a legitimate national title contender.

    Virginia Tech – Survived a shootout with Miami in a game that both teams needed to win.

    Arkansas – As much as I dislike Petrino, they showed up and took care of business versus Auburn.

    Baylor – A good bounce back performance after the loss to Kansas State.


    Texas – Mack...sit David Ash. He’s not good.

    Fresno State – The Bulldogs were shelled at home before halftime on national TV. Not good.

    Minnesota – Destroyed...by Purdue? Really?

    Missouri – The Gary Pinkel Effect strikes again.

    Memphis, Arizona, Kansas, Colorado - Everyone hum along!

    On to this week’s meetings! All times Central:

    No. 11 Michigan at No. 23 Michigan State – (11 AM Saturday, ESPN)

    East Lansing is the site for this year's battle for the Paul Bunyan trophy. Last week, Michigan survived a shootout in suburban Chicago vs. Northwestern while the Spartans enjoyed a bye week.

    Michigan State comes into this game with a defense allowing only 10 points per game (No. 3 nationally). They will need to flex every bit of that defensive muscle against Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson and this high-octane Wolverine offense.

    As you examine this Michigan team, be sure to note that the Wolverine defense has only allowed 12 points per game (No. 8 nationally). Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins and wide receiver B.J. Cunningham will find ways to put points on the board, but look for "Shoelace" to help outscore the Spartans and beat little brother.

    No. 20 Baylor at No. 21 Texas A&M - (11:00 AM Saturday, FX)

    History suggests favoring the over on points scored (for entertainment purposes only, of course) in College Station this week, as RG3 and the Bears roll down Highway 290 to face the Fightin' Aggies. Both teams put up points last week as Baylor visited Iowa State and Texas A&M tripped to Texas Tech.

    For A&M, quarterback Ryan Tannenhill has to match Robert Griffin drive for drive this week, and he's capable of doing so. However, Texas A&M needs to complete a 60-minute game, and playing Baylor is an affair where A&M can't afford to let up again.

    Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett’s unit has matured well for the Bears, and has a chance to put on a third-straight eye-opening performance. This is a must-win game for Baylor, as the loss to Kansas State allows no room for error in their remaining games. If the Aggies lose, look for the chirping for Mike Sherman’s job to get much louder.

    No. 6 Oklahoma State at No. 22 Texas – (2:30 PM Saturday, ABC Regional)

    The Cowboys visit Austin for a second straight year due to the shrinking of the Big 12. The Longhorns host Gundy’s crew following the lancing provided by the Oklahoma Sooners last week just three hours up I-35. Everyone knows about the Brandon Weeden to Justin Blackmon connection for Oklahoma State.

    For Texas, quarterback Case McCoy should be taking snaps for the Longhorns until death, injury or eligibility do they part. That's not to say David Ash isn’t a good quarterback, but last week's drubbing showed that McCoy is the man. It won’t matter who Texas starts though, because the Cowboys will have their pistols firing against a defense that can't stop the bullets all day long.

    No. 18 Arizona State at No. 9 Oregon - (9:15 PM Saturday, ESPN)

    The final big game of the day takes place at the hostile Autzen Stadium as the Sun Devils and Ducks meet for a major Pac-12 tussle. Last week, Oregon ran California out of the building while losing LaMichael James to a dislocated elbow. Meanwhile, Arizona State barely broke a sweat dismantling Utah.

    For the Sun Devils, quarterback Brock Osweiler has been solid for the offense. The defense has been alright giving up less than 20 points per game. Arizona State's defenders will need to feed off of linebacker Vontaze Burfict as the Ducks's offense has found its rhythm following the debacle in Arlington against LSU.

    Oregon’s offense is averaging a shade over 50 points per game, but will feel the effects of losing James for at least a few games. This will likely be a good game, but the Ducks are almost invincible at home. Look for Oregon to notch another win.

    Coaches on the Hot Seat:

    Mike Stoops, Arizona – WHOOPSIE! Looks like the axe finally fell on Stoops. When your only win is against Northern Arizona, and you’ve given up no less than 37 points per game to FBS teams, you're not doing well regardless of schedule strength. Adios, Mike. Maybe one of your brothers has a bunk or guest house to crash at.

    Turner Gill, Kansas – Did the state of Oklahoma get a deal on woodshed materials at Lowe’s last weekend? Oklahoma drags Texas behind one, and the Cowboys do the same with Kansas. The Sooners are coming. Be very afraid.

    Neil Callaway, UAB – Having the No. 120 offense and No. 96 in the FBS isn’t helping. Neither will the upcoming game against Tulsa.

    Houston Nutt, Mississippi – The good news: You didn’t lose last week! Bad news: You’re going to get bombed by Nick Saban and Alabama!

    Jeff Tedford, California – The Bears played well for a half against Oregon, but forgot to show up for the second. Then, Southern Cal topples them for the eighth straight time. Feel the heat.

    Kirk Ferentz, Iowa – All you can muster is a field goal versus Penn State? Your offensive genius got you three points? BAH!

    Follow Brian on Twitter: @btbowling
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    Tags: oklahoma, virginia tech, arkansas, baylor, texas, fresno state, minnesota, missouri, memphis, arizona, kansas, colorado, michigan, michigan state, texas a, m, oklahoma state, mike stoops, turner gill, neil callaway, houston nutt, jeff tedford, kirk ferentz

  9. 2011 Oct 06

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week Six


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brian Towle

    Week six of the 2011 campaign has arrived. By the first week of October, there’s a pretty clear cut list of contenders and the pretenders. As always, you can’t look forward until you look back. Last week’s highs and low’s include but are not limited to -


    Arkansas - For being down so much, the Hogs showed some great resiliency and came back for their third straight win in Arlington over Texas A&M

    SMU – Headed across the DFW metro, they started fast, and hung on to earn a good program-building win against TCU.

    Kansas State – Played exceptionally well at home taking care of Baylor and officially being put on sleeper watch for the Big 12 title.

    Auburn – Needed the win against South Carolina to keep their fledgling SEC West hopes alive and got it.


    Texas A&M – Two weeks in a row they had a large cushion at halftime, two weeks in a row they lose the game by less than a score. Where’s the Wrecking Crew?

    Mississippi State – Another SEC loss against a team they should have taken care of at home (Georgia). Again, wake us up when the Bulldogs want to play some football.

    Virginia Tech - A field goal at home against Clemson? That is all the Hokies could do?

    Florida – Losing against Alabama wasn’t terrible, however the loss of quarterback John Brantley isn’t what they needed, then or now.

    Minnesota, Kansas, South Carolina, Purdue…welp:

    Now, on to this week’s shows! All times are central.

    No. 3 Oklahoma vs No. 11 Texas – (11:00 AM Saturday, ABC)

    Get your Fletcher’s Corny Dogs, Fried…whatever you want and your sweet tea, kids! Time to head on down to the Texas State Fair and catch up on this year’s version of the Red River Rivalry. For the first time in a while, both teams are ranked fairly high in the polls. You know about Oklahoma and their playmakers on offense (quarterback Landry Jones and wide receiver Ryan Broyles), but many people have not seen Texas on a national level yet.

    Texas has gotten better, primarily by using a two quarterback system with Chase McCoy and David Ash, however McCoy has been the one truly shining lately. With wide receiver Jaxon Shipley catching McCoy’s passes, it reminds Longhorn fans of the glory days they lived a few years back.

    Defensively, Texas has been better with Manny Diaz at the controls, but this will be their biggest test of the year to date. Mack and the Longhorns need this game to prove to the fan base that the program has pulled a 180 from last year’s 5-7 debacle. However, there is just enough of a talent gap that Oklahoma should be able to quiet the Texas offense enough to get the victory.

    No. 17 Florida at No. 1 LSU – (2:30 PM Saturday, CBS)

    This game has lost some of the luster that it would have had thanks to Florida quarterback John Brantley’s leg injury. In his place, highly touted freshman Jeff Driskel starts his very first game…at Death Valley in front of a national audience.

    While the Gators played well at times against Alabama last week, the game showed that Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis still have work to do, and this game will show it even more. LSU just keeps plodding along, with Jarrett Lee at the helm of the offense and a defense that hasn’t given up much to anyone other than West Virginia. Look for LSU to win this one, but Florida will give it their all.

    Miami at No. 21 Virginia Tech – (2:30 PM Saturday, ABC Regional)

    Al Golden takes a neatly-pressed dress shirt and tie along with his Hurricanes into Blacksburg to face a Hokies squad that is not pleased with their performance against Clemson. Last week, Miami played tee ball against Bethune-Cookman, so they will be looking to gain some momentum against Virginia Tech. As Jacory Harris goes, so goes Miami.

    While Harris wasn’t great against Ohio State, he has played fairly well in the last couple of games. For the Hokies, running back David Wilson has been their rock, but quarterback Logan Thomas still hasn’t shown all that he can do yet. Tech needs him to take his play to another level for the Hokies to avoid a two game losing streak, excuses be damned.

    Miami can’t be trusted on the road, especially in conference play. Furthermore, Frank Beamer has to get his team realizing that a second conference loss in a row could be disaster for a once-promising season. Take the Hokies at home in this one.

    No. 15 Auburn at No. 10 Arkansas – (6 PM Saturday, ESPN)

    Auburn is the road underdog once again this week as they travel to Fayetteville to take on a Razorback team hoping to capitalize on the momentum gained from their come-from-behind win against Texas A&M.

    Last week, Auburn silenced the crowd at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia and took care of a very inconsistent South Carolina team. Auburn is not a squad that scores points easily, and doesn’t shut down the opposition very well either.

    One team that is superior to them in putting up points is these very Arkansas Razorbacks. For some reason, Auburn will stick around in this game until the end because that’s just what they have done this year. Arkansas’ chances are favorable, specifically since it’s a home game. However, do not be shocked if Auburn can keep it close and possibly squeak out a win.

    Coaches on the Hot Seat:

    Frank Spazani, Boston College – Things are not good for you right now, sir. Sitting at 1-4 and going to play Clemson doesn’t help. Scoring less than 21 points per game isn’t an encouraging statistic, either.

    Robb Akey, Idaho – You had a chance to shock the world with a defeat of Virginia in overtime last week. Being ranked somewhere in the 90s when it comes to scoring offense and defense doesn’t help. Louisiana Tech comes calling for you this week.

    Dan Mullen (Mississippi State), Neil Callaway (UAB) – Both teams are underperforming, so both teams naturally have to beat up on each other. Neither team can afford the loss, either.

    Mike Stoops, Arizona – You mange to score 41 against Southern California and it doesn’t matter come the end of the game. Absolutely shocking. You do have a chance for a win, this week, against...

    Mike Riley, Oregon State – Another ball game for the families. This game’s winner isn’t winning much, one would believe.

    Larry Porter, Memphis – The Tigers are currently running through an absolute gauntlet of a schedule with last week’s toughie against Middle Tennesee State and this week’s bout against the monsters known as the Rice Owls.

    Danny Hope, Purdue – What Notre Dame did to you last Saturday was rated “M.” Whether “M” was for mature or moronic, who knows?

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    Tags: arkansas, smu, auburn, texas am, mississippi state, virginia tech, florida, minnesota, kansas, south carolina, purdue, oklahoma, texas, lsu, miami, frank spazani, robb akey, dan mullen, mike stoops, mike riley, neil callaway, larry porter, danny hope

  10. 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

  11. 2009 Dec 31

    Podcast 12/31: Bo and Stoops Postgame


    By HuskerLocker

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    Tags: podcasts, bo pelini, mike stoops, holiday bowl, wbb

  12. 2009 Dec 29

    HOLIDAY BOWL: Plenty of Smiles...Now Down to Business


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Of all the gin joints in the world, they had to put Bo Pelini and Mike Stoops in the same one Wednesday night at the Holiday Bowl.

    Could have been worse, Pelini said, than Nebraska and Arizona locking horns in San Diego’s beloved bowl game.

    “There was a chance for awhile there that Mike was going to have to play (brother) Bob,” Pelini said of Oklahoma and its head coach, Bob Stoops. “I don’t know what the heck would have gone on there.”

    The Youngstown buddies laughed and joked throughout their joint press conference Tuesday. Both wearing sport coats - Pelini donned his usual collarless shirt as an undergarment - they traded jabs about painting houses at youths, and “some fun card games,” Stoops said, when they were both graduate assistants at Iowa. He didn’t elaborate.

    “What goes in Iowa, stays in Iowa, I guess,” Bo said. “I don’t think people realize how intertwined our families were for such a long time. Our families are tight. We’re good friends. It’s like playing against your brother.”

    From there, they covered the usual territory. Growing up together. Shared philosophies. The elder Stoops, Ron, and the effect he had on the Pelini coaching tree.

    “Mike’s father was like a second father to me,” Pelini said. “When you play under a man like that and in a culture like that, it has a big impact.”

    Then there’s how Pelini felt for Stoops when, at LSU, his Tigers thumped Arizona 45-3 in 2006.

    “Everything he had worked for up to that point - sometimes it gets clouded when you get a setback like that,” Pelini said. “When you see a friend going through that, with all the hard work he put into it, it was hard to watch. It was hard for me to be a part of that.”

    A luncheon of old, familiar friends. It remains to be seen just which Nebraska team - and which Arizona team - actually appears Wednesday night.

    Bo seems confident, almost ebullient. This is Bowl Bo, who flashes a big smile and adds a dash of charm. It’s a curious short-term transformation from the guy who, for much of the season, bandied back and forth with reporters, frustrated at some of the questions - and the lack of offensive progress. On Tuesday, he busted out warm-n-fuzzy buzz words - mature, fresh, love - to describe a team whose last experience on the field was among the most painful in NU history.

    “We keep getting better every week,” he said. “I love the culture about how our kids go to work every day. I love their attitude and their commitment to each other. It gives us a chance to win a long time to come. And that’s not going away. I believe our depth is growing and in every aspect of our program I see things heading in the right direction. And that gives me a great sense of satisfaction.”

    Maybe a week traveling with Ndamukong Suh helped him appreciate just what he’s done at Nebraska in two short years. Maybe he’s shifted into a mode we’ll see annually from this point forward. Maybe it’s that, frankly, not much is at stake in San Diego, no matter how fans want to drum up manufactured disrespect or illusory goals that the Huskers just don’t have.

    I suggested as much last week and got thrown on the spit for it.

    I wasn’t claiming then - or now - that NU would be unmotivated or unprepared. Nebraska’s always ready for a scrum, save a 62-28 loss to Oklahoma.

    Rather, NU has to create motivation, rather than having a shoulder chip piping hot out of the oven. And that’s not always been easy for the Huskers to do in the Pelini era. You have two Colorado games as evidence.

    If USC had been the Holiday Bowl opponent, I think you would have seen a large measure of vengeance - for two severe beatdowns suffered at the hands of the Trojans in 2006 and 2007 - playing a role for some of the juniors and seniors who were around for those debacles.

    Arizona provides no such grist for the mill.

    And Bo, offering up more smiles and compliments this week than he’s doled out in almost two years, isn’t trying to conjure it up, either.

    “It does provide momentum for in the offseason, winning your bowl game, but it’s not going to define you for the future,” he said. “It’s the next challenge ahead of us. What’s on the line? I think it’s the next challenge.”

    What about the ten-win season?

    “Did I come into this season saying ‘We have to win ten games?’ No, I didn’t,” Pelini said. “Right now our record is at 9-4. Our goal is to win game ten. It’s the next step in the process. That’s up to you guys, to make a big deal about whether it’s nine or ten.”

    You can bet fans will, Bo. Trust me.

    Tags: holiday bowl, bo pelini, mike stoops, commentary

  13. 2009 Dec 29

    HOLIDAY BOWL: Five Keys: Arizona


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    And so, the final turn of a strange horse race for Nebraska football in 2009, ending in a place where folks still flock watch horses run: Southern California. It’s Nebraska’s second, and potentially last, trip to the Holiday Bowl, seeing that the game swaps places with the Alamo Bowl following this year, and NU has zero intent ever falling back down to fifth or sixth in the Big 12 bowl slots again.

    Arizona, the Cornhuskers’ opponent, probably won’t be making the trip again, either. The Pac 10 is hopping to San Antonio, too. Weird that the Holiday Bowl actually wants an also-ran bunch from the Great Lakes in its game, as opposed to the Mountain West champion or runner-up, which hearkens back to the game’s impressive roots. But that’s that nature of bowls today. Remember - they’re about the kids!

    Kudos to Qualcomm Stadium getting a full house, though. It’s an atmosphere every bowl game deserves and Husker fans typically deliver. If there’s one gift the best fans in college football give to their team each year, it’s the guarantee of the best possible bowl destination. If only more fan bases poured out their support like the Big Red. Sellouts at home. Clans of cornheads on the road. Can’t beat it.

    On with the keys:

    Preparation: I won’t say Nebraska has taken it easy during its bowl workouts. That would be inaccurate. The Huskers’ practices are plenty tough. But Pelini invoked no less than an NFL-style prep schedule for this game: Six days of install back in Lincoln, a five-day break, and three more practices in San Diego, all in the morning, with an eye toward letting the players enjoy their afternoons. I don’t much count Tuesday’s walk-through as a practice.

    Arizona’s pursued a slightly busier schedule, arriving two days earlier.

    What difference might that make? We’ll see. Nebraska’s defense, at this point, doesn’t need a lot of fine-tuning, while the offense needs so much that modesty is probably the best course of action anyhow.

    Foiling Foles: Arizona quarterback has the stature, arm strength and feathered hair to make it as an NFL quarterback. He doesn’t jump off the page, but he puts some zip on the ball, and isn’t afraid to stick the ball into a tight window of defenders.

    The question for the Holiday Bowl, of course, is whether he can do it against a highly aggressive nickel/dime’dollar defense. Against the nation’s best four-man pass rush.

    Arizona will try to scheme success, I suspect. Watch for clearout slants like Kansas State used, and back-shoulder throws against man-to-man coverage, with the intent of drawing pass interference penalties. Any offense must already know how hard it will be to consistently hit passes in the 5-10 yard range. Nebraska doesn’t allow it. Texas tried for two drives, then gave it up. Missouri kept trying, and paid the price.

    Only Texas Tech really figured it out. And I still think NU’s safeties are vulnerable against the deep out and throwback plays. Will Foles get the time to make those throws and reads?

    Physical speed vs. mental speed: Arizona’s not your typical Pac 10 football team. Built on principles borrowing heavily from Oklahoma (defense) and Texas Tech (offense), the Wildcats are about as quick off the paw as any team NU’s faced, including OU, Virginia Tech and Texas. Because Zona blitzes more than most Pac 10 teams, it’s incumbent on the quarterback - in this case, Zac Lee - to make the right checks before the snap, have his hot reads ready, and fire under pressure.

    Color me surprised if the Huskers are able to get in super-heavy formations and pound away at Arizona, although, most assuredly, offensive coordinator Shawn Watson will try. Rather, NU’s offensive success - at least when Lee is in the game - boils down to a short, smart playaction passing game balanced with inside runs.

    Green Light? The mini-audition of freshman quarterback Cody Green intrigues me. Is it a half-hearted stab at putting the kid on the field as a gold watch, of sorts, for burning his redshirt? Or is it a full-bodied attempt to exploit his talents and create mismatches on the edge of the defense with zone read plays and moving pockets?

    I suppose it depends on how Watson sees a kid like Green. Does he envision a Terrelle Pryor type, who struggles to throw the ball consistently, yet makes dynamic, exciting plays with his feet? Or does he envision somebody like Texas A&M’s Jerrod Johnson, who only scrambles when flushed and play an above-average West Coast quarterback?

    Yes, I know I just asked four questions without giving you an answer. Mea culpa.

    I’m just skeptical of Watson and Pelini’s plans for the kid, is all. Since his let-it-all-hang-out performance vs. Texas Tech - in which he flashed promising spirit and playmaking skills - Green has been asked to perform the bare minimum in terms of offense, rarely getting the chance to operate the versatile shotgun attack he ran in high school. If Nebraska ties Green to the proverbial tree in San Diego, there’s a better chance he makes a more costly error than if NU turns him loose. Hence, the skepticism. If you place an athlete - used to making decisions on the fly - inside a system that programs those decisions and asks for precision within a window the size of Mike Leach’s dark, cool closet, aren’t you trying to pound a round peg into a smaller square hole.

    I’ll let you answer that one.

    The Specials: Nebraska will meet its match in the Arizona, which sports excellent returners, a decent kickoff unit (11 touchbacks) and kicker Alex Zendejas, who made 17-of-22 field goal attempts this year. The Wildcats are a bit weak in punt coverage, but, otherwise, they comprise the best special teams test NU’s faced since, well, Virginia Tech. All those little details - snap, placement, lane integrity, creating space to catch the ball, protection on the punt team - will add up to one big play Wednesday. The question is: Who gets the play?

    Tags: holiday bowl, zac lee, bo pelini, nick foles, mike stoops, alex henery, cody green, shawn watson

  14. 2009 Dec 29

    HOLIDAY BOWL: Scouting Report: Arizona


    By HuskerLocker

    Husker Locker's Samuel McKewon explains why Arizona is one of the most dangerous opponents the Huskers will face this year - and how the Wildcats intend to attack the Huskers' vaunted defense. Check it out with a 14-day free trial to Husker Locker Pass!

    Tags: scouting report, holiday bowl, mike stoops, nick foles

  15. 2009 Dec 07

    Podcast 12/7: Husker Volleyball Storms to Omaha


    By HuskerLocker

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    Tags: podcasts, mbb, wbb, volleyball, mike stoops, holiday bowl

  16. 2009 Dec 06

    Game. Set. Rematch. Holiday Bowl!


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Nebraska was just one second from the Big 12 Championship Saturday night. Three weeks ago, Arizona, with its student section crowded near the field, poised to tear it up with stomping feet, was just six seconds away from Pasadena.

    The Cornhuskers and Wildcats will meet in the Dec. 30 Holiday Bowl. But it might as well be the Heartbreak Hotel.

    “They were just a couple plays off from going to the Rose Bowl,” NU head coach Bo Pelini said of Arizona. “The margin for error right now is not real high. As we found out.”

    Nebraska, 9-3, lost the Big 12 title game to Texas, 13-12, on a game-winning field goal that happened after replay officials stuck one second back on the game clock. The 8-4 Wildcats, meanwhile, led Oregon 31-24 when Ducks' quarterback Jeremiah Masoli found receiver Ed Dickson for a touchdown, sending the game into overtime. Arizona eventually lost, 44-41, in double-overtime. Oregon got the bid for the Rose Bowl.

    Couple those losses with two more gut punches – NU's 16-15 loss at Virginia Tech and Zona's 36-33 loss at Washington (in which the Huskies won by intercepting a ball that bounced off a receiver's foot and returning it for a touchdown) – and you have a lot of scorched earth.

    “We certainly know all about tough losses this year,” Arizona coach Mike Stoops. “...It sets up for an exciting game – just the parallels between the two teams.”

    Fortunately, there is a double dose of feel-good to this game, as Pelini matches wits with former colleague Stoops, who, like his brother Bob, grew up with the Pelinis at Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown, Ohio.

    Probably the most intense of the Stoops' brothers, Mike worked with Pelini briefly at Iowa in 1991 – the Hawkeyes, incidentally, made the Holiday Bowl that year – and later cut his teeth at Kansas State and Oklahoma as a defensive assistant. He's now in his sixth year in Tucson, having survived the hot seat more than once.

    After securing the Holiday Bowl bid with a 21-17 upset over USC in the LA Coliseum, Mike even managed to catch most of NU's loss to Texas.

    “Bo's a close friend of mine and my family,” Stoops said.

    Said Pelini: “We're close. We always have been. We always will be. It'll be good to go out there and see him.”

    The two share a common coaching philosophy, Stoops said.

    “Bo built his team – and we built our team – kind of the same way,” Stoops said. “We believe defense wins you tough games and wins you championships. They were one second away, and we were six seconds away from winning a championship.”

    Both programs had statement-making wins in 2009, as well. NU beat Oklahoma for the first time since 2001. And Stoops beat USC for the first time in six tries. The Trojans are significantly down this year, but still a standard-bearer for the Pac 10. With a Holiday Bowl berth on the line, the Wildcats most shut down USC's offense, and got just enough plays from its quarterback, Nick Foles.

    “All those tight games really helped us at the end of the year,” Stoops said. “It helped those kids make some really big plays right at the end.”

    Indeed, Arizona beat an impressive list of bowl teams: Stanford, Oregon State, USC and Central Michigan. The Wildcats lost to Oregon, UW, California and Iowa.

    Now they draw Nebraska, the same opponent they beat 20-16 in the 1998 Holiday Bowl to cap off the best season (12-1) in school history.

    Notes: Pelini said Sunday night he wasn't sure when Nebraska would practice this week, adding that he took Sunday to relax after the Big 12 title game. Here was his wrap-up thoughts on the UT game and the rest of this week:

    On the referees' decision to place one second back on the clock: “I'm not gonna get into that. It's over and done with.”

    On whether Nebraska will recover from the loss in time for the Holiday Bowl: “We have 25 days to get that right. You get a chance to play a team like Arizona – they'll be ready to go. It's not like we have to turn around and get ready in three days.”

    On accompanying Ndamukong Suh this week to awards ceremonies: “Going to a couple of those things. I have a lot going on this week and some things I'm going to be able to make and some things I won't.”

    Tags: holiday bowl, mike stoops, big 12 championship, bo pelini

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