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  1. 2011 Dec 04

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Huskers' 2011 Bowl Possibilities

    3,512 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By James Stevenson

    Since Nebraska sat out the Big Ten title game, Husker fans’ attention has turned to dreams of a sunny Florida getaway in January. Nebraska is hoping to be selected for their first New Year’s Day bowl game since 2009.

    It’s not safe to book plane tickets just yet as the Huskers have three or four realistic bowl destinations. While three are in Florida, the worst-case scenario could send you to get a bit of dry heat.

    The top five Big Ten Bowl tie-ins are:

    1. Rose Bowl (Big Ten Champion)
    2. Capital One Bowl
    3. Outback Bowl
    4. Gator Bowl
    5. Insight Bowl

    Some ground rules to understand in terms of Big Ten Bowl Selection: The loser of the conference championship game cannot fall past the Gator Bowl. This prevents things like Nebraska’s Big 12 office-aided rematch with Washington last year. Secondly, the Capital One and Outback Bowl cannot take any team if there is a team that has two fewer losses available. In other words, you can’t take a 6-6 Ohio State team over a 9-3 Penn State squad.

    A quick look at the current Big Ten standings and BCS rankings:

    13. Michigan State (10-2)
    15. Wisconsin (10-2)
    16. Michigan (10-2)
    19. Nebraska (9-3)
    21. Penn State (9-3)
    Iowa (7-5)
    Northwestern (6-6)
    Purdue (6-6)
    Ohio State (6-6)
    Illinois (6-6)

    Stunningly, the Big Ten has 10 eligible teams, but only eight bowl bids. Fortunately for the conference (and maybe Illinois), Michigan is looking to crash the BCS party, which should move everyone up a notch. If the Wolverines can crack the BCS Top 14 (which should happen as they pass Michigan State due to their loss and Georgia since they tanked in the SEC Championship game), the Wolverines are almost a lock for an at-large BCS berth in the Sugar or Fiesta Bowl. This is very important.

    Best Case Scenario: Capital One Bowl – Jan 2 – Orlando, Florida (ESPN)

    Nebraska vs. Arkansas

    Assuming Alabama and LSU play a rematch in the national title game and Michigan gets into the BCS, the Huskers would face the 10-2 Razorbacks here. This would be a tough match-up, though Nebraska’s improving secondary play would give them a legitimate shot.

    Bo Pelini’s defenses seem to play exceedingly well with a long time to prepare, but the Razorback defense has become quite stingy. Hopefully the Huskers could pick on former Nebraska commit cornerback Tevin Mitchell who defected to Arkansas.

    Second Best Option: Outback Bowl – Jan 2 – Tampa, Florida (ABC)

    Nebraska vs. South Carolina
    (Expected: Michigan State vs. South Carolina)


    It’s not a guarantee that Michigan makes the BCS. Baylor could leapfrog the Maize and Blue thanks to their win over Texas. Regardless, if for some reason Michigan doesn’t crack the BCS Top 14, the Capital One Bowl would select them over Nebraska.

    This would be good news for anyone who likes Bloomin’ Onions though, as the Outback Steakhouse-sponsored bowl would happily bring the Huskers to Tampa. Look for another SEC matchup against another great defense, one that will test Tim Beck and the Huskers offense.

    Near-Worst Case Scenario: Gator Bowl – Jan 2 – Tampa, Florida (ESPN2)

    Nebraska vs. Florida/Auburn
    (Expected: Ohio State vs. Florida/Auburn)


    This is probably the easiest SEC match-up the Huskers could hope for. There’s almost no way this scenario would happen, though. Michigan State would’ve had to win the B1G Championship, Michigan would have to be absent from the BCS, and the Outback Bowl would need to decide that the Badgers' Russell Wilson and Montee Ball will sell more seats and garner more TV ratings than the Huskers.

    It’s a possibility, but given how poorly Wisconsin fans travelled to the Big Ten Championship game, one would think that the Gator Bowl is resigned to taking the Big Ten title game loser if Michigan doesn’t make the BCS and otherwise will reach to grab the Buckeyes and their re-energized fanbase.

    All Hell Breaks Loose Scenario: Insight Bowl – Dec 30 – Tempe, Arizona (ESPN)

    Nebraska vs. Texas A&M
    (Expected: Penn State vs. Texas A&M)


    It’s hard to imagine how this scenario could play out. Maybe Bo Pelini finds another job, or a scandal breaks for Nebraska. Michigan misses the BCS, and Urban Meyer decides to actually coach the Ohio State Bowl game.

    This is unlikely to happen, but despite Sun Devil Stadium being a house of Husker horror, the storyline of a “rematch” with Texas A&M would somewhat entertaining (as long as they didn’t use Big XII officials). It’s more likely that Penn State plays here in a contest surrounded by terribly disappointed fans.

    All in all, it looks like the Huskers will be heading to Florida to take on an SEC opponent, and likely a good one. The Big Ten Bowl possibilities are pretty amazing after coming from the Big 12, so it’s exciting to look forward to what should be such a high-quality opponent and bowl game looming on the Husker schedule.

    The best news: any of these cities is within decent driving distance from each other. Most importantly, you can go see Mickey and the gang at Disneyworld.

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    Tags: big ten, rose bowl, capital one bowl, outback bowl, gator bowl, insight bowl, michigan state, wisconsin, michigan, penn state, arkansas, south carolina, auburn, florida, texas a, m

  2. 2011 Dec 04

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Knee-Jerk Reactions - Championship Week

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    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    - No one should suggest that Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin’s head was in the CUSA Championship Game. Feel kinda bad for Case Keenum if no one else.

    - LSU is the epitome of sportsmanship. What other team spots their opponent two scores before smashing their skulls in?

    - It was impressive how Oklahoma State took down Oklahoma with the subtlety and grace of a Viking raid.

    - If you told someone that the ACC Championship Game would be 10-10 at the half before one team outscores the other 28-0, they’d likely believe you. If you told them it would be Clemson instead of Virginia Tech, you’d likely be 100 dollars richer.

    - Despite the heart-breaking loss to Kansas State, Paul Rhodes is the best thing to happen to Iowa State since the Morrill Act of 1862.

    - Thought Wisconsin would get revenge on Michigan State. Didn’t think the score would be so close.

    - Badgers running back Montee Ball for Heisman

    - Baylor is 9-3? Clearly college football has ripped open time and space allowing the sport to be swallowed by a separate time rift in which Waco demands only the finest of athletic specimen.

    - Seriously, quarterback Robert Griffin III for Heisman (RG3 if you’re nasty)

    - Still lobbying for the MAC to get a BCS berth over the Big East. You know it’s the right thing to do.

    - Final Bowl Prediction of the Week: Outback vs. South Carolina

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    Tags: houston, lsu, oklahoma state, clemson, virginia tech, kansas state, iowa state, paul rhodes, wisconsin, montee ball, heisman, baylor, robert griffin, south carolina

  3. 2011 Dec 02

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Championship Week

    1,104 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brian Towle

    The first Saturday in December begins the end of the college football regular season. This includes conference championship games across the land, regular season finales that decide title appearances and the coaching carousel keeps spinning throughout December. Lets get right to the beef of the games, shall we?

    Marathon MAC Championship – Detroit, Michigan

    Ohio vs Northern Illinois – Friday 6:00 PM, ESPN

    MACtion makes its final regular season curtain call as the fighting Frankies head to Detroit’s Ford Field to take on Northern Illinois. The Huskies, who are ranked No. 8 in FBS rushing offense, bring in dual-threat quarterback Chandler Harnish to face a Bobcat defense that is adequate.

    Ohio is also riding a wave of momentum into this game thanks to a five-game win streak.Surprising sophomore quarterback Tyler Tettleton has thrown for nearly 3,000 yards. Northern Illinois can score, but they can also be scored upon (with a No. 94 scoring defense). Look for Frank Solich to get a conference title, though this one won't take him to Tempe.

    Winner: Ohio

    Pac-12 Championship - Eugene, Oregon

    UCLA vs. No. 9 Oregon – Friday 7:00 PM, FOX

    The inaugrual Pac-12 title game will be hosted by the folks in Autzen as UCLA, accompanied by their lame duck head coach Rick Neuheisel, try to keep the spread inside 40 against the high-octane Oregon offense.

    The Bruins' defense gives up a lot of points, and the offense doesn't put many on the scoreboard. Here’s hoping Neuheisel has as much grace falling on his sword following this game as he has through the week. Oregon should cruise even without LaMichael James

    Winner: Oregon

    SEC Championship Game – Atlanta, Georgia

    No. 14 Georgia vs No. 1 LSU – 2:00 PM, CBS

    For a game that has had plenty of implications in previous years, this year’s tilt in the Georgia Dome won't factor much into who will make the BCS title game. According to whom you listen to, that is. LSU is the only undefeated BCS team in America, and they will take on a surprising Georgia squad that somehow found themselves atop the SEC East.

    Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray and a better-than-most offense has saved Mark Richt’s job (again) and has bought him some time between the hedges. However, these are the LSU Tigers that they are playing. That the game's taking place in Georgia means nothing.

    The Tigers spotted a decent Arkansas team 14 points before running them out of the building by the fourth quarter. This will be close early, but put your money on the horseshoe hiding in Les Miles’ body.

    Winner: LSU

    The Defacto Big 12 Championship Game - Stillwater, Oklahoma

    No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 3 Oklahoma State - 7:00 PM, ABC

    Bedlam has arrived and folks across the country are amped, even without the fanfare and title implications that we were hoping in the middle of October. A very interesting game as Oklahoma State finally has all of the ponies to defeat the Sooners.

    However, Okie State has been known to take the night off during games like this. Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden and wide receiver Justin Blackmon have shown up all year, but they need one more dynamite night to get Oklahoma State into the BCS with a chance at a title game appearance.

    Oklahoma isn’t the same team on offense without the threat of injured wide receiver Ryan Broyles, whether people admit it or not. The Cowboys need a big win to get into the title game. I don’t think they'll be victorious by a wide margin, but they should finally bring a Big 12 title back home.

    Winner: Oklahoma State

    Dr. Pepper ACC Championship Game - Charlotte, North Carolina

    No. 5 Virginia Tech vs. No. 20 Clemson – 7:00 PM, ESPN

    These two teams were picked by many to meet for the conference crown before the season began. Few thought that Clemson would be reeling as they are right now having lost three of their last four games. Virginia Tech is coming into the game looking to avenge their only loss of the year, losing to the Tigers in Lane Stadium 23-3 on October 1.

    Clemson was white hot on offense back then. However, quarterback Tajh Boyd is still throwing the ball pretty well, though the Hokies' defense has only improved. Usually in games like this, you look at what each team has done over the last month and factor that in heavily. That's exactly what makes the pick easy.

    Winner: Virginia Tech

    Inaugural Big 10 Championship – Indianapolis, Indiana

    No. 15 Wisconsin vs No. 13 Michigan State – 7:17 PM, FOX

    Finally, we head to Lucas Oil Stadium for a rematch between two teams who supplied us with of one of the best finishes of the year. When they first played on October 22, a hail mary pass from Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins to wide receiver Keith Nichol on the final play of the game stunned everyone as Wisconsin had come down from 14 points to tie the game with less than 2 minutes remaining.

    Both teams haven't changed much since they first met. The one thing that stands out as this game approaches is that Wisconsin’s running game has gotten bigger and better down the stretch, meaning Russell Wilson isn’t as necessary for a win. That alone could mean that the Spartans need to shut down the running game entirely and make Wilson beat them.

    Michigan State's defense isn't too shabby (No. 6 in FBS), so if Cousins can move the ball and get six on the board more often than assisting in setting up three, it should mean good things for the Spartans. That being said, I just can’t see the Badgers playing as poorly in the first half as they did in East Lansing.

    Winner: Wisconsin

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    Tags: big ten, big 12, pac12, mac, acc, sec, wisconsin, michigan state, ucla, oregon, ohio, northern illinois, lsu, georgia, clemson, virginia tech, oklahoma, oklahoma state

  4. 2011 Nov 05

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Top Five Things to Watch For Against Northwestern

    1,534 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Erin Sorensen

    Coming off an emotional win, Nebraska looks to improve and continue their path to the Big Ten Championship Game. While Northwestern is not looking like much of an threat to Nebraska, there are still things fans need to be on the lookout for.

    1. Stopping Dan Persa/Kain Colter

    Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa will be a good test for Nebraska’s defense. While it has been argued that Persa is not what he used to be pre-injury, he will still be a challenge for a Cornhusker defense that struggles against a mobile quarterback. If Persa is back to 100 percent, he will test Nebraska in preparation for a much more mobile quarterback like Michigan’s Denard Robinson.

    What fans need to be on the lookout for against Persa is how the Nebraska front seven responds to Northwestern’s rushing offense. Right now, the Wildcats are ranked No. 3 in the Big Ten in total offense. This will put the defense in a tough spot to make big plays. If the defensive linemen can continue playing like Blackshirts, Northwestern should not be a big issue.

    2. A Standout Secondary

    The Nebraska secondary looked stellar against Michigan State last Saturday. It was clear that senior cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was back to his old self, while the rest of the secondary stepped up big. It was an all-around shining moment for a struggling defensive backfield.

    However, the secondary has shown too many weaknesses at this point to assume it will be easy to control Northwestern’s pass game. The Wildcats’ passing offense is ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten with an average of 244 yards per game. Persa also has a 75 percent completion rate, 1,251 yards through the air and only three interceptions coming into today.

    Fans will be looking for the Cornhuskers to play to the level they did last week. It will be interesting to see if the secondary can continue to earn their Blackshirts, or if Michigan State was a one-hit wonder thanks to Kirk Cousins’ immobility.

    3. Clock Management

    Nebraska has really stepped up in the last couple of games and taken control of the play clock. While having the ball more than their opponents, the Cornhuskers have been developing long drives that not only wear down the clock, but also typically result in points. This is a big step forward for a Nebraska offense that struggled to keep the ball for too long in 2010.

    Today, the Cornhuskers need to continue that pattern of smart clock control. Long drives will keep the ball away from Northwestern and Persa. If Nebraska can continue its good habits when in possession of the ball, the score shouldn’t even be close.

    4. Less Pressure on Rex Burkhead

    While Nebraska fans would love to see a huge game from the junior I-Back, this would be a good week to let the workhorse rest. Coming off of cramps during the fourth quarter of the Michigan State game, Burkhead needs to save his legs for the upcoming weeks. Games against Penn State and Michigan will require him to make a lot of big plays; a game against Northwestern does not.

    Keep an eye out for the younger running backs to get more playing time and experience this week. Between Aaron Green, Ameer Abdullah and Braylon Heard, Burkhead can take a break this week and let the freshman handle some of the load. Will he still be in most of the game?

    Most likely, but don’t expect every ball to be handed to him. Every game matters to Bo Pelini, but this one matters a little less when looking at the big picture as far as Burkhead’s concerned.

    5. An Active and Involved Crowd

    Memorial Stadium was rocking against Michigan State last Saturday. Will the same Cornhusker fans show up against Northwestern? While the more hyped games, such as Ohio State and Michigan State, have brought an electric atmosphere to Memorial Stadium, it will be important to note how the crowds react to Northwestern.

    If the game is a blowout, the crowd should still be involved. While Memorial Stadium is arguably classier than Camp Randall, there is something to be said about Wisconsin’s constant fan involvement. If Nebraska fans can replicate the excitement from Michigan State, it will be a big factor.

    The Big Ten is full of tradition. Nebraska has theirs, but one thing that has been talked about all season for improvement is fan involvement. It has been improving greatly over the last couple of games, but it will be interesting to see how the fans treat this game. It wouldn’t hurt to get a little experience for a team that is about to step into an unfriendly Happy Valley next week.

    Ultimately, Northwestern shouldn’t be much of a challenge for Nebraska. The game will provide some good growing opportunities, while also allowing some areas of the team to rest. It will be a fun game to watch, as the battle of the “NUs” takes place. Fans are guaranteed that.

    What are you watching for as the Huskers take on Northwestern? Tell us all about it in our new forums: Husker Locker Forums

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    Tags: northwestern, dan persa, kain colter, rex burkhead, wisconsin, camp randall, aaron green, ameer abdullah, braylon heard, bo pelini, alfonzo dennard

  5. 2011 Nov 04

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Top Five Things the Huskers Must Do To Be Big Ten Champs - No. 1

    1,167 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Ryan Donohue

    - Keep the Momentum

    Through a record-setting comeback, a well-placed bye, a conference cupcake, and a gritty home win over a top 10 team, the Huskers have built themselves quite the upswing in momentum.

    The mission is to keep that momentum from turning into a pendulum that drops Nebraska back down to its post-Wisconsin slump.

    It’s incredibly unlikely Northwestern will spoil the Huskers’ charmed stretch. The following weeks, with back to back road games against Michigan and Penn State, are fine candidates to rain on the Big Red parade.

    Nebraska must not forget this October – and that includes the Wisconsin shellacking – because it’s what fired them up and put them back in the top 10, and in control of their own destiny in the Legends Division. Northwestern should be easy pickings, offering a chance to improve even more on defense and continue to find rhythm on offense.

    Then Nebraska faces its big road tests. Do these Huskers have the mettle to walk into the Big House in Ann Arbor and deliver a loss to a good team with a great quarterback in front of what is sure to be a raucous crowd? Can they do the same in Happy Valley, a place that was not so kind to Nebraska the last time around?

    If Tim Beck continues to manage offensive game plan well and the Pelini brothers show that the Blackshirts are back – which won ‘t truly happen until November 12 against Mr. Robinson – then Nebraska will more than earn its shot at all the marbles.

    It didn’t seem possible one month ago, but that was before the Huskers heated up. They need to keep crank that heat up in cold, unfamiliar stadiums. The sweet reward will be a crack at the inaugural Big Ten crown in the warm, cozy confines of Lucas Oil Stadium and toting a conference championship home for the first time in 12 years.

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    Tags: wisconsin, mcihigan, penn state, denard robinson, northwestern, lucas oil stadium, big ten

  6. 2011 Nov 02

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Blackshirts Aided By Beatdowns and a Break From Stiff Competition

    1,997 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By James Stevenson

    Last Monday, 20 (that’s twenty, not a typo) Nebraska defenders found black practice jerseys in their lockers. Eight defensive linemen and nine defensive backs were among those honored in Bo Pelini’s tweaked version of the Blackshirt tradition.

    While the Huskers certainly earned the right to their black practice jerseys after dominating Michigan State, the resurgence on defense may have as much to do with the competition as with the Blackshirts actually improving.

    There’s no question that Nebraska’s defense has statistically improved since the non-conference schedule. After the debacle at Wisconsin, Nebraska’s was ranked No. 68 in pass defense, No. 58 in pass effeciency defense, No. 64 in total defense and No. 73 in scoring defense.

    Heading into the game against Northwestern this week, those rankings have improved to No 12 in pass defense, No. 23 in pass efficiency defense, No. 29 in total defense and No. 33 in scoring defense.

    That’s some massive improvement. Bo Pelini’s defenses are known for gelling over the course of the season, as players learn to trust each other and the system in his Zone Pattern Match defense.

    For example, the 2010 defense had improved from No. 35 to No. 12 in total defense from the third to the tenth week of the season. The 2009 team improved from No. 50 to No. 9 in the same category.

    The last two seasons prove that Bo Pelini defenses improve during the middle of the season, evolving into the fearsome units he is known for coordinating. The 2011 Nebraska squad seems to be following this pattern, but the competition faced during October is decidedly different than what was seen in the Big 12.

    In 2009 and 2010, Nebraska faced two teams ranked No. 2 in total scoring (Texas Tech in 2009, Oklahoma State in 2010). They usually had another date with a Top 25 scoring outfit (Missouri in 2009 and 2010).

    Unlike those seasons, the 2011 Blackshirts have padded their stats since the Wisconsin game, playing against the Nos. 108, 110, and 66 scoring offenses in Ohio State, Minnesota and Michigan State, respectively.

    Neither Ohio State (No. 111 passing offense) nor Minnesota (No. 108 passing offense) featured any sort of significant threat against the Huskers’ secondary. Even Michigan State, despite star quarterback Kirk Cousins, was merely average in both total offense (No. 66) and scoring offense (No. 58).

    Aside from the first half against Ohio State, Nebraska did what it should have done against the offenses it faced: shut them down. Over the last ten quarters of play, Nebraska has only given up 24 points. That’s good defense no matter how you slice it.



    The big question that remains going into the November contests is if the Blackshirts can contain a mobile quarterback. Nebraska was exploited early in the season by slippery signal-callers.

    Ohio State’s Braxton Miller gashed the Huskers for big gains before his second half injury. Wisconsin, Washington and Fresno State used rollouts and plays designed to get their quarterbacks on the move and into space effectively.

    Much like Michigan State, two of Nebraska’s upcoming opponents, Penn State and Iowa, don’t feature much mobility at the quarterback position. The real test for the improved Blackshirts will be Northwestern and Michigan.

    The first mobile quarterback will be Northwestern’s Dan Persa. Hampered by an injured Achilles’ tendon, he hasn’t quite returned to his 2010 form. Last week against Indiana, he still rushed for 41 yards on four attempts with his longest gain being 22 yards.

    The Wildcats’ change-up option at quarterback, Kain Colter, is more of a runner than a thrower, and accounted for 38 yards on five attempts gaining 20 yards on his longest run. Northwestern doesn’t sport much of a defense though, which should reduce pressure on the Blackshirts.

    The biggest test will be in two weeks in Ann Arbor. Nebraska will face one of the most dangerous dual-threat quarterbacks in the country in Michigan junior Denard Robinson. “Shoelace” leads the Wolverines in passing and rushing, and is averaging over 100 yards on the ground in his last seven games. If Nebraska can contain Robinson and limit his running ability, they have a chance to win at the Big House.

    For the Cornhusker defense, being able to defend a mobile quarterback will be paramount during the November stretch if they want to win the Legends Division. Given that dual-threat quarterbacks Braxton Miller and Russell Wilson lead two of the three teams that could hypothetically oppose the Huskers in the conference championship game, a conference title may rely on that improvement, as well.

    The Blackshirts have come a long way since that fateful night in Madison, but to win the inaugural Big Ten Championship, they’ll have to step up and prove they can to shut down the conference’s highest-octane signal callers and offenses.

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    Tags: bo pelini, blackshirts, northwestern, dan persa, denard robinson, kirk cousins, kain coulter, ohio state, wisconsin, penn state, iowa, washington, braxton miller, fresno state

  7. 2011 Nov 01

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Top Five Things the Huskers Must Do To Be Big Ten Champs - No. 2

    2,427 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Ryan Donohue

    - Less Us vs. Media/Fans and More Us vs. The Opponents

    There’s been far too much infighting among Nebraska’s stakeholders. That includes players, coaches, fans, and the media.

    Why is Bo taking time to acknowledge the boo birds? The “us vs. the world” mentality only strengthens your enemy because it acknowledges them – they just boo louder. Also, is it truly “us” if there are players commenting to the media about team efforts? Keep that in the locker room.

    Why is the media obsessing over fan reaction and issuing apologies to players? Are we too swayed by an always-on, social-media-fueled environment? Are we bored? I surmise one cause is the disorientation that comes with a new conference. We are the new kid in class, and we seem to be in the back row picking our own scabs.

    It’s time to make a friend, or better yet an enemy.

    If players are frustrated about how they – or others – are playing then take it out on the other team. Tackle them, knock them down, talk a little trash. Take Wisconsin’s attitude of “you don’t belong here” and turn it on its head. Use it and show every remaining opponent – including possibly Wisconsin for a second time – that Nebraska can stand up to anyone in the Big Ten.

    That Nebraska is more “Big Ten” than most teams in the conference, and has been for decades. The Cornhuskers don’t have any rivalries built up yet, so Nebraska needs to dig deep for sources of motivation. Taking advantage of the root cause of what made players like Ndamukong Suh so fun to watch might benefit Nebraska greatly.

    Take out aggression on the field and things fall into place. The one thing the players, coaches, fans, and even media have in common is they want Nebraska to win. Everybody loves winning. If the Nebraska family can restore the focus to beating up on the opponent instead of themselves, good things will come.

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    Tags: big ten, bo pelini, wisconsin, ndamukong suh

  8. 2011 Oct 21

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week Eight

    1,266 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brian Towle

    Week eight has arrived with the Halloween season (and Christmas decorations BAH HUMBUG), and everyone’s conference season is in full tilt. The BCS standings are out, and bowl bids are starting to be sized up. Lets take a look at the ups and downs from last week -

    Winners:

    Michigan State: A nice little upset at home versus the Wolverines. Can’t say that anyone needed to be punched, though.

    Oklahoma State: Did a good job taking care of business against Texas. Keep working towards Bedlam.

    Clemson: What a comeback against Maryland! The Tigers can’t afford to live on luck every game, though.

    Oregon: No LaMichael James and a hurting Darron Thomas? No problem! However, the quicker they can get healthier, the better.

    Losers:

    Indiana: A bad loss to Wisconsin, and just a hint of advice: Don’t kick punts into the butt of your personal protector.

    Michigan: Live by Denard, die by Denard. The defense lived up to expectation, but the offense…meh!

    Georgia Tech: a loss to Virginia? Really?

    Kansas: Congratulations, you covered the spread! A moral victory!

    Texas, Maryland, Iowa State, Arizona State and Florida:



    And now here’s something we think you’ll really like (all times Central):

    No. 20 Auburn at No. 1 LSU – (2:30 PM Saturday, CBS)

    The LSU/CBS network carries the Battle in the Bayou between Gene Chizik’s Tigers against Les Miles and his Ragin’ Cajun Tigers. As for Auburn, they earned a well-fought victory against Florida last week, while LSU decapitated Tennessee in Knoxville.

    The main focus of this game is the suspension of three LSU players, most notably starting Safety Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu. Even with one of their better safeties out, the Bayou Bengals shouldn’t have an issue with the anemic Auburn offense. Look for Les’ group to have the most fun between the two Tiger teams on Saturday afternoon.

    No. 6 Wisconsin at No. 16 Michigan State (7:00 PM Saturday, ESPN)

    Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson and the high octane Badger offense (that’s odd to type, to be honest with you) roll into East Lansing for a primetime night game. They’ll face the best defense on their schedule thus far as Sparty tries to ride a wave of momentum after defeating Michigan.

    This is the first time all season that Wilson will be tested outside the friendly confines of Camp Randall. He has to pass this test to get people to believe in both the Badgers as true national title contenders and himself as a legitimate Heisman contender. Something has to give between the FBS’ highest scoring offense and the No. 4 scoring defense.

    Don’t forget that the team which plays the most complete game usually wins these high-profile affairs. Michigan State can’t score enough points to outdistance Wisconsin, but don’t be surprised if the final score is much closer than you think. Over The last few years, Michigan State has made a living by winning nighttime Big Ten games at home that most think they shouldn’t

    No. 25 Washington at No. 8 Stanford – (7:00 PM Saturday, ABC)

    It’s "Sark Week" in Northern California as the Huskies go down to Napa Valley to take on Andrew Luck and the undefeated Cardinal. Luck has been rolling along this year, while Keith Price has been a pleasant surprise as Jake Locker’s replacement for Washington. The only loss of their season was in Lincoln earlier this year.

    Stanford is the most complete team in the Pac-12 right now with both the offense and defense ranking No. 5th in the FBS, a model of efficiency. Washington has been good on offense, but they give up 28 points per game. That’s not what you to throw at Andrew Luck. Stanford takes this one in a high-scoring bout.

    Other games to keep an eye for this week include:

    No. 4 Oklahoma State at Missouri – A big time upset alert. That said, Mizzou can’t even sell this game out?

    No. 9 Arkansas at Ole Miss – Bobby Petrino’s gang wants more blood and the Rebels are hemorrhaging it.

    No. 22 Georgia Tech at Miami (FL) – The Yellow Jackets were embarrassed by Virginia. They’ll be going against a Miami squad that can fall asleep at times.

    No. 10 Oregon at Colorado – How will the Ducks fair in the altitude minus both LaMichael James and maybe Derron Thomas?

    Tennessee at No. 2 Alabama – The Crimson Tide needs to find consistent some offense before LSU, and if you don’t think so, Saban could give…well, he doesn’t care.

    Coaches on the Hot Seat:

    Bob Toledo, Tulane - WHOOPSIE. Apparently when you’re 15-40 over your career with the Green Wave, it’s time to call it a legacy (if you can). It’s hard not to feel for Tulane.

    With the effects of Hurricane Katrina still taking their toll on the school’s athletic department, there’s not much that can be done. Barely getting 10,000 people per game in the Superdome and having LSU/Louisiana-Lafayette winning doesn’t help either.

    Turner Gill, Kansas and Houston Nutt, Ole Miss – We put these two together not because they are joined at any coaching hip, nor do we think that either school will win this week.

    We're putting them together because no matter how many losses Houston or Turner will end up with this year, there is a good possibility that both coaches will not be fired at the end of the year.

    Both have buyouts that are pretty hefty and it will take a lot of money being ponied up to get them to hit the road. For Gill, this saves him for another year. Kansas has shown time and time again they don’t know how to run a football program. However, for Ole Miss, there’s a far better chance that some wealthy booster can put up the money necessary.

    Nutt only has one year left on his deal after this season, though. For the Rebels’ program, it’s simply a question of if they want to pay the penalty as opposed to lose one more season to a guy that has shown he has no clue.

    Jeff Tedford, Cal – Utah is pretty similar to the Golden Bears and has the same record. That does mean Cal can beat them...right?

    Rick Neuheisel, UCLA – A two game stretch against Arizona and Cal. Welp, good luck against the Golden Bears.

    Tom O’Brien, North Carolina State - Good luck against Virginia, a team that should be easier than you thought after the euphoric win over Central Michigan last week.

    Follow Brian on Twitter: @btbowling
    Follow Husker Locker on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: michigan state, oklahoma state, clemson, oregon, indiana, michigan, georgia tech, kansas, texas, maryland, iowa state, arizona state, florida, auburn, lsu, wisconsin, stanford, bob toledo, turner gill, houston nutt, jeff tedford, rick heuheisel

  9. 2011 Oct 05

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Zero Towlerance - Badger Burgers

    3,926 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Husker Locker's own Brian Towle steps up to the plate to give his thoughts on the world of Huskerdom and address questions asked by you, Husker Nation.

    This week, Brian reviews the Wisconsin game, takes us through the necessities of Taylor Martinez, Rex Burkhead, Jamal Turner and others during the Ohio State tilt before finally initiating a burger battle between two of America's most popular chains.

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.



    Follow Brian on Twitter: @btbowling
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    Tags: wisconsin, ohio state, tim beck, rex burkhead, taylor martinez, jamal turner

  10. 2011 Oct 01

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Wisconsin Game Day Thoughts

    2,973 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Every week, the Husker Locker staff will be presented both questions addressing various aspects of that week's game.

    This week:

    What does Nebraska have to do both offensively and defensively to win this game?

    Brian: Offensively, stay in time. Tim Beck needs to spread the ball efficently and get ALL his playmakers the ball. Jamal, Kenny, Quincy, Ameer, Braylon, Aaron Green, Kyler... you get the picture. It can’t be the Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead show. If that is the case, we are going to be disappointed.

    Defensively, it’s a matter of what you think Wisconsin can do worse, run or throw the ball. To me, take away the run and make Wilson beat you in the air. We have talented corners, but we need help with pressure and throws that are not when Wilson wants to put it up.

    Erin: Offensively, play like they did against Washington. Wyoming really wasn't that bad offensively, either. If Taylor can stay confident and the offense can make good use of the receivers, as well as Rex, they won't have a problem putting up points on a questionable Wisconsin defense.

    Defensively, Nebraska needs to find its swagger. These guys are talented, but they're missing that spark. If the defense can play tough, it'll be key. This game will be decided upon by defense.

    Brandon: Offensively, they need to keep Russell Wilson off of the field. Long, sustained drives with the occasional big play would serve the Huskers well. If Nebraska can gain large chunks of yardage creating very manageable third down situations and pop off the occasional 15-20 yard gain or long bomb, that’d be ideal.

    They need to attack a defensive line and linebacker corps that are the biggest two largest chinks in the Badgers’ armor. In the end, Nebraska's best defense may be the offense in this game. Keep Wilson off the field entirely.

    Defensively, they need to sell out to stop the run. With Wilson’s ability to run and two bruising backs, it’s hard to think that Wisconsin isn’t going to try to gash Nebraska’s interior defensive line which hasn’t had much luck stopping the run cold.

    Watch for Dennard to be all over Nick Toon when possible, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Badgers try to work him opposite Alfonzo. Whoever is opposite Dennard needs to have the game of his life.

    Do you think Nebraska’s special teams units are being overlooked this week?

    Brian: YES! Ameer is still No. 1 in the FBS in kickoff returns, and there are several reports that the Badgers are going to have issues kicking deep on kickoffs. Making Wisconsin go 70-80 yards every series will end up being a good thing. Bo’s defenses give up yards, not points. Brett Maher needs to have another big game to keep us within striking distance.

    Erin: Possibly, but I don't think so. Abdullah needs to just play a little smarter. The kid is so fast and wants to play lights out, but he just needs to hold onto the ball. I'm not worried about our special teams otherwise.

    Brandon: No. As a matter of fact, I think Wisconsin knows that this unit needs to be addressed. They’ve got a kicker who has difficulty keeping kickoffs in the field of play and if Ameer gets a hole, he can take it to the house on anyone. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Wisconsin try an onside kick or two if not straight up kicking the ball out of bounds should Nebraska have success early.

    Who do you think will be the Huskers' surprise impact player this week?

    Brian: Saturday will be Jamal Turner’s coming out party to America. If he gets 10+ touches through the game, I like our chances. And I think that will happen.

    Erin: I have two: Brandon Kinnie - I just have a gut feeling he's going to step up huge this game.

    The entire defense - I think they're ready to how what they've got. A game full of big hits is in the cards.

    Brandon: I’m not sure how much of a surprise this is considered, but I’ll say Jamal Turner specifically because of how little he’s been used. This is the game that you throw the kitchen sink (a.k.a. Turner) at a team like Wisconsin. He’s shown he can do amazing things. Look for him at two or three different positions.

    You’re at ESPN Gameday in Madison. What does your sign say?

    Brian: “ERIN SORENSEN OF HUSKERLOCKER.COM LOVES POUTINE”

    Erin: Seeing as I will be there, you'll have to watch and see. Or at the very least, check HuskerLocker.com for pictures later.

    Brandon: Everyone: Superman Plays for Nebraska

    Follow the panel on Twitter:

    Brandon: @HuskerLocker
    Brian: @btbowling
    Erin: @helloerinmarie

    Tags: predictions, wisconsin

  11. 2011 Sep 30

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: NU vs. Wisky - Why the Term "Big Game" Was Invented

    759 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Nebraska and Wisconsin fans have their emotions in high gear for Saturday’s football game.

    It will be the Cornhuskers’ first as a member of the Big Ten and it will make a statement about who’s who in the conference.

    The emotions of the respective faithful, however, might fall into separate categories.

    For Cheese heads: “Let us prey.”

    For Corn heads: “Let us pray.”

    Read more here: Click for article

    Tags: wisconsin, badgers

  12. 2011 Sep 30

    The OFFICIAL Husker Locker Podcast 9/30: Crashing the Big Ten

    4,986 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Subscribe to the podcast

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    On the docket:

    A podcast featuring ONLY questions asked by you, the Husker Locker fan base:

    - What strategy is best for Nebraska: Holding back on offense or giving the opposition something to think about?
    - What will be the determining factor will be for a Nebraska win
    - Negativity surrounding the Wisconsin-Nebraska game

    Have a topic or question that you'd like to hear discussed? Send us an e-mail or a message to any of us on Twitter.

    Follow the roundtable on Twitter:

    Brandon: @HuskerLocker
    Brian: @btbowling
    Brett: @BigRedinTejas
    Erin: @helloerinmarie
    Greg: @thehooch36

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    Tags: wisconsin, big ten, tim beck, podcast, podcasts

  13. 2011 Sep 30

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Mucho Hooch-o - Preemptive Badger Bash

    2,267 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    The sixth edition of Mucho Hooch-o, an audio blog by Husker Locker's own Greg "Hooch" Mehochko, features a regular cornucopia of content.

    Hooch breaks down the extremely elevated Wyoming game, discusses the Peso defense, special teams, uniforms for the contest at Wisconsin, the defense's superhero and, of course, the Incredible Edible of the Week.

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.



    Follow Greg a.k.a. Hooch on Twitter: @thehooch36
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    Tags: cameron meredith, jared crick, alfonzo dennard, peso, wyoming, wisconsin

  14. 2011 Sep 29

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Fear and Rushing in Madison

    7,367 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brett Baker

    "No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear." - Edmund Burke

    Fear. Scanning the Nebraska football message boards this week, posters are wallowing in it. This seems strange since the team, their team, is undefeated, ranked in the top ten and led by a man that an entire state lobbied for not once, but twice. Yet fear has taken hold of Husker Nation in advance of Nebraska's first ever conference game as a member of the Big Ten, but why?

    To explore this question, I reached out to a handful of friends, die hard Husker fans all, to take their figurative temperature about Saturday's contest against Wisconsin. Perhaps not surprisingly, most of them admitted to having some concerns.

    "The last couple of nights, my usual 3 AM bout of 'what are you doing with your life?' sleeplessness has been preempted by nightmares set inside Camp Randall." says Todd Munson.

    His dread appears to be strictly a nocturnal affair. "By the time the sun starts to come up, my confidence begins to rise and when I finally stumble out of bed, I walk with a bit of swagger knowing that it's one day closer to the day the Badgers have to play Nebraska."

    This seems to be the norm with the men in my very unscientific survey. "(Last) Saturday, I was pretty much on the boat with the idea the game in Madison could be ugly. Then the week started. For some inexplicable reason, over the past couple of days, I have developed hope." Rory Zutavern says.

    One interviewee who asked to remain anonymous had a similar reaction. "After Wyoming, I was at first like, “Wow! We are not going to be ready,” but after I really thought about it, I think we are going to be ready."

    The ladies, on the other hand, have yet to get on board the hope float. "Nervous as hell, my friend. We're on shaky ground." Mikeena Thompson offers. Her concerns were echoed by Tricia Van Diest. "I'm cautiously optimistic. I haven't given up all hope, as it seems others have, but my prediction is a loss for my beloved Huskers."



    "Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering." - Yoda, The Phantom Menace

    The little green Jedi master was onto something. Remember what it was like to be a Husker fan in the 1990's? Every weekend was a name your score affair for the Big Red. They feared no team and the fan base adopted the same swagger.

    Then Tom Osborne retired. This clearly affected the psyche of most fans. He left for Washington D.C. and took that aura of invincibility with him. What confidence remained after Frank Solich's tenure was completely destroyed by the coach who shall not be named.

    This is where Yoda's words of wisdom come into play. While “fear” may not be the right word to describe fans’ feelings about the coach who shall not be named, it does speak to how they felt about what was happening to their storied program. Naturally, when their suspicions were proven over time, this fear did turn to anger.

    I won't belabor the point but there was plenty of hate and suffering in our great state in the fall of 2007. Since that time, the Huskers’ fortunes have changed. They are back among the nation’s best. They have regained much of what was lost, but even with all of the recent success, there is doubt. After all, 2007 wasn't that long ago. What's most evident this week isn't a fear of Wisconsin, but the fear of not measuring up, the fear of losing what has been gained and what is at stake.

    "While this game isn't necessarily on par with a championship game, it definitely has tones to be a historic game. First Big Ten game ever. First time at Camp Randall." says Aaron Palmer. Those things matter because fans recognize the significance. They also recognize what could happen to the team's reputation if the opportunity isn't seized.



    "Fear is the enemy of logic." - Frank Sinatra

    Ultimately, much of the worry may be overblown. "A lot of the dread heading into Madison has been media and message board driven. The players definitely aren't intimidated," says Munson. It's a thought shared by Stephen Brindley. "Pretty much everyone doubts the Huskers chances. I think that the Blackshirts will have a huge statement this weekend and shut down Russell Wilson."

    They aren't the only ones that are dismissive of the doom and gloom types. "In the Pelinis I trust! When you think Nebraska should have no shot, Bo and Carl dial up a defensive game plan that keeps the game close. If they do that again, I truly believe we have a shot in Badger land." says Steve Spriester.

    Maybe the worry and woe garner our attention because they are fairly out of place in the Big Red Nation. When pressed, most fans, like Derek Hernandez, can see a way to victory. "I think (Brett) Maher and our special teams will be the difference and we win a wild one 33-30. Then we'll have this conversation again two months later."

    Two months later?

    Oh yeah, the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis. Suddenly I'm worried again.

    Follow Brett on Twitter: @BigRedinTejas
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    Tags: bo pelini, carl pelini, wisconsin, frank solich, tom osborne, russell wilson, brett maher

  15. 2011 Sep 26

    What You Need to Know About the Wisconsin Badgers

    2,912 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    To ensure that Husker fans know the necessities of all upcoming opponents, every week Husker Locker will be previewing Nebraska’s upcoming foe. This week: The Wisconsin Badgers

    Wisconsin Basics:

    Conference: Big Ten
    Stadium: Camp Randall Stadium (Capacity: 80.321)
    Head Coach: Brett Bielema (53-16 at Wisconsin)
    2010 Season: 11-2 (Lost to TCU in Rose Bowl)
    Last Week: Defeated South Dakota 59-10

    Did Barry Alvarez Go Straight into Coaching College Football?

    Actually, Alvarez spent coached at Lincoln Northeast High School from 1971-1973 and at Lexington High School from 1974-1975. He would then cross the Missouri River to coach at Mason High School in Iowa from 1976-1978 before taking the linebackers coaching job at Iowa.

    Is Wisconsin’s Student Section Really One of the Best in College Football?

    Plenty of people seem to think so. While Nebraska students have been implementing a new tradition following the end of the third quarter, Badger students show an intense amount of energy as House of Pain’s “Jump Around” blares through the stadium before each home game’s final stanza. They get into the game, they’ll stay there and are one of the loudest bunches in the entire stadium.

    Did You Know?

    The badger was selected as Wisconsin’s mascot in 1889 whose name (Buckingham U. Badger, though he goes by Bucky) was selected via a 1949 contest. A live badger was used briefly in 2003, but a raccoon was eventually brought in for substitution as badgers aren’t too friendly.

    Like Nebraska, Wisconsin began playing football in 1890. Their first game was a 106-0 pasting of University of Wisconsin–Whitewater which remains the school’s most one-sided victory.

    They Badgers play two trophy games: One with Iowa for the Heartland Trophy and another with Minnesota for Paul Bunyan’s Axe which has a six foot long handle.

    Wisconsin Players to Watch

    QB Russell Wilson (Last week: 19-25 passing for 345 yards and three TDs)

    RB Montee Ball (Last Week: 15 rushes for 88 yards (5.87 YPC) and two TDs)

    RB James White (Last Week: 9 rushes for 95 yards (10.6 YPC) and one TD)

    WR Nick Toon (Last Week: 7 catches for 155 yards and two TDs)

    LB Chris Borland (Last Week: 8 tackles (4 solo), 2 TFL, 1 INT, 1 QBH)

    LB Mike Taylor (Last Week: 10 tackles (2 solo), 1 TFL)

    DB Aaron Henry (Last Week: 5 tackles (1 solo))

    Interact with Wisconsin fans at: BadgerNation.com

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: wisconsin, russell wilson, montee ball, james white, nick toon, chris borland, mike taylor, aaron henry, barry alvarez

  16. 2011 Sep 26

    Husker Heartbeat 9/26: Burkhead Feelings On Pain, NU's Place in the Big Ten and Painful Wisky Memories

    4,569 views

    By HuskerLocker

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

    - Senior running back Rex Burkhead doesn't have time for pain

    - Nebraska feels right at home in the Big Ten

    - The Huskers have a painful Madison memory from 1974

    - The good, bad and other of the Huskers' win over Wyoming

    - The Wildcat formation makes its triumphant return

    - Nebraska needs to make a big jump to knock off Wisconsin

    - Lady Huskers knock off Ohio State improving to 2-0 in Big Ten play

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: rex burkhead, wisconsin, wildcat, ohio state

  17. 2011 Sep 16

    THE OFFICIAL Husker Locker Podcast 9/16: Collaring The Huskies

    1,818 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Subscribe to the podcast

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.



    On the docket:

    A podcast featuring ONLY questions asked by you, the Husker Locker fan base.

    - Secondary coaching (Marvin Sanders vs. Corey Raymond)
    - Wisconsin and Nebraska in the Top 10
    - How the BCS title game could play out between Oklahoma, the SEC and the Big Ten
    - Brandon Kinnie
    - Washington predictions

    Have a topic or question that you'd like to hear discussed? Send us an e-mail or a message to any of us on Twitter.

    Follow the roundtable on Twitter:

    Brandon: @HuskerLocker
    Brian: @btbowling
    Brett: @BigRedinTejas
    Erin: @helloerinmarie
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    Tags: marvin sanders, corey raymond, wisconsin, bcs, sec, oklahoma, big ten, brandon minnie, podcast, podcasts

  18. 2011 Aug 31

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week One

    1,765 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brian Towle

    The 2011 college football season is finally upon us. The first week brings some great storylines with it. High aspirations of teams such as Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida State and Stanford will give way to inevitable separation of wheat from chaff. Without further adieu, let’s take a look at some notable games this week. All times listed are in CST.

    UNLV at #11 Wisconsin (7 PM Thursday, ESPN)

    The Russell Wilson Show finally takes center stage with a nationally-televised debut at Camp Randall. Wilson, a transfer from NC State, has a one-year deal with Wisconsin, bringing a fairly accurate arm and quick feet to the Badgers offense. On the UNLV sideline, second year coach Bobby Hauck has a very young Rebels team that simply won’t be ready for prime time in Madison.

    The interest of this game lies in how Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema gets Wilson involved in an offense that revolves heavily around ball control. Don’t expect to see fireworks from the Badgers. Pay close attention to how Wilson is used, though. This will give Husker fans a potential peek at how their October meeting with Wisky might play out.

    #14 TCU at Baylor (7 PM Friday, ESPN)

    This game should, and probably will be, much closer than it would’ve been last year. While Gary Patterson brings his fabled defense led by senior linebacker Tank Carder into Waco, gone is All-Everything quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver Jeremy Kerley. The reins of the Horned Frogs’ offense have been handed to sophomore Casey Pachall, a very athletic player in his own right.

    Pachall has been fighting shoulder issues coming into this game, and there are whispers that he’s not completely healed. Baylor has Robert Griffin III under center yet again. While Griffin still has senior wide receiver Kendall Wright to go to, Baylor lost its leading rusher from 2010 in running back Jay Finley.

    Defensively, Baylor was atrocious last year giving up almost 31 points per game. This contest will be a great measuring stick for Griffin as a stout TCU defense will be very difficult to score against. If this game was in Fort Worth or at a neutral site, there’s no way Baylor would stand a chance.

    However, with the game in Waco and a very rare sellout crowd expected, the Bears’ chances improve. A Baylor win with a solid performance by Griffin would solidify his claim as a legitimate Heisman candidate.

    Appalachian State at #13 Virginia Tech (11:30 AM Saturday, Gameplan/ESPN3.com)

    Not to put the Michigan jinx on Frank Beamer, but the Hokies start off the season with a new quarterback and a large chip on their shoulder thanks to a blowout loss to Stanford in last January’s Orange Bowl. Sophomore Logan Thomas has stepped in at quarterback replacing a talented but often-criticized Tyrod Taylor.

    The Hokies have four returning starters on their offensive line, and reports indicate that junior running back David Wilson will help to ease the loss of Ryan Williams. The defense’s front seven is now healthy, something that plagued defensive coordinator Bud Foster last year. The Mountaineers, led by Jerry Moore, will be their typical scrappy selves, especially in both teams’ first game of the season. Look for the Hokies to do well regardless.

    Minnesota at #25 USC (2:30 PM Saturday, ABC regional/ESPN3.com)

    The second year of the Lane Kiffin/Matt Barkley experiment begins at the Coliseum starting with a tilt against the Minnesota Golden Gophers and new head coach Jerry Kill. Last year, Kiffin and the Trojans seemed to have severe issues giving all games equal focus. Hopefully Barkley will have matured as he will be constantly evaluated heavily by NFL scouts.

    The Gophers, on the other hand, are beginning the Kill regime by playing in one of the nation’s more intimidating environments. Quarterback Marquis Grey, a converted wide receiver, will get his first start in front of about 92,000 fans on a likely hot day in Los Angeles. Minnesota should score occasionally as the Trojan defense isn’t going to be great, but Southern Cal should roll.

    If the Gophers get blown out of the water, it will be interesting to see how Kill is treated by the media and fans over the next few weeks.

    #3 Oregon vs. #4 LSU @ Cowboys Stadium (7 PM Saturday, ABC national)

    The most intriguing game of the day takes place in Arlington, Texas where a high-octane Oregon offense will go up against the craziness that is Les Miles and the LSU Tigers. LSU won’t have speedster wide receiver Russell Shepard, and once-expected starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson’s status with the team is in limbo.

    Quarterback Jarrett Lee will take over an offense that was being guided by former offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe before his recent battle with cancer was made public and he stepped down. Lee has matured under some intense pressure during his time at Baton Rouge, but doesn’t have the trust of the Tiger faithful quite yet.

    Oregon returns an offense based on keeping their opponents tired by running plays at a very quick pace. The duo of quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James led the nation in points per game last year and look to do the same this season. The more points scored in this game, the more likely it will be to Oregon’s benefit.

    LSU knows the tempo of the offense that Chip Kelly runs, but there is a difference between practicing it and actually attempting to defend the real thing. The Tigers can win this game if they are more physical than Oregon. As we all know, Les Miles has a horse shoe attached to his body, but all the luck in the world can’t help you when key players keep getting arrested. Oregon wins, but it’ll be close.

    #5 Boise State vs. #19 Georgia @ The Georgia Dome (7 PM Saturday, ESPN)

    The final game on our slate is the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic featuring Kellen Moore and Bronco Nation going deep into Dixie to take on the Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia head coach Mark Richt appears to be preparing for a make-or-break season in Athens. With his underachieving teams and the rise of Georgia Tech, Richt needs a win against Boise to start off a season that can bring the Bulldogs back to the Georgia Dome for the SEC title game.

    Sophomore quarterback Aaron Murray returns to lead the Bulldogs after a solid freshman season that saw him throw 24 touchdowns versus nine interceptions with a 61 percent completion rate. The problems for the Bulldogs start on the defensive side of the ball. Allowing 22 points a game isn’t a killer in most conferences, but we’re talking about the SEC.

    When you face the nation’s best quarterback in Kellen Moore, you’d better be able to score. Boise State’s record will continue to be questioned even as they move to the Mountain West Conference in an attempt to raise their credibility, albeit slightly. Critics seem to forget that Moore and Boise won a slugfest in Washington DC last year taking down eventual ACC champion Virginia Tech.

    What others forget is that not only was the offense impressive (No. 2 in the FBS), but the defense was stellar, too (No. 2 in scoring defense). The biggest factor for Georgia is that there is no A.J. Green for Murray to throw to. The Broncos don’t scare easily, and Kellen Moore will show the nation why he should be the front runner for the Heisman Trophy.

    Of course, along with great teams, there are the struggling ones. Let’s examine some of the coaches on the hottest seats in the country.

    Paul Wulff, Washington State (first game, vs. Idaho State) - The Cougars could actually begin the season 3-0. However, a loss to ISU will cause vultures to immediately begin circling in Pullman.

    Mike Locksley, New Mexico (first game vs. Colorado State) – Locksley seems lucky to still have a job and amazingly has a new contract. In theory, he’s in a win-win position as losing to CSU won’t hurt much and a win can only be seen as immediate progress.

    Greg Schiano, Rutgers (first game vs. North Carolina Central) – Schiano, who has gotten a raw deal in Jersey as of late, would be lauded anywhere else. Unfortunately, losing as often recently hasn’t helped his stock. 2011 could be better for him especially with a doormat to begin the year.

    Turner Gill, Kansas (first game vs. McNeese State) – How far have you fallen, Jayhawk Football? Hopefully, the beginning of a good season starts here, but that’s far from a guarantee.

    Houston Nutt, Mississippi (first game vs. BYU) – The quarterback-killer that is Houston Nutt will face a team that is far better than the Jacksonville State team that Ole Miss lost to in last year’s opener in BYU. In true Reverend Nutt style, if they do lose, expect a 25-minute tangent on how that 36th player he wanted to sign two years ago couldn’t make it to camp.

    Follow Brian on Twitter: @btbowling
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    Tags: college football, unlv, wisconsin, tcu, baylor, appalachian state, virginia tech, minnesota, southern california, oregon, lsu, boise state, georgia

  19. 2011 Aug 22

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Is The Husker Offensive Line Pulling Its Weight?

    6,149 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    One of the hottest topics of the offseason, next to Taylor Martinez’s health and how many records Jamal Turner will break, has been Tim Beck’s offense. Some speculate there will be a return to a power run/option game, while others point to Beck’s 2007 passing extravaganza during his stint as a member of the Kansas Jayhawks’ coaching staff. His hand appears to have been tipped by examining unorthodox tea leaves: The weight of Nebraska’s offensive linemen.

    According to Huskers.com, the 2010 Cornhusker earth-movers averaged slightly less than 306 pounds per lineman. Thanks to these behemoths, Nebraska was 84 yards away from having three players rush for over 1,000 yards. This fall, the Huskers have dropped to an average of 292 pounds per lineman.

    Sure, it could simply be strength and conditioning coach James Dobson continuing to excel at his job, but let’s examine this trend a bit deeper. The two teams best suited for comparison to the key elements of Beck’s offensive personnel are fellow Big Ten member Wisconsin and, in an interesting twist, Nevada of the Western Athletic Conference.




    During Bret Bielema’s tenure, the foundation of Wisconsin’s offensive production has been a power running game. Wisky’s 2010 offensive line averaged over 318 pounds per player according to the school’s official web site. That particular squad was a mere four yards shy of having three running backs eclipse the 1,000-yard mark last season.

    Thanks to their pound-the-rock mentality, the Badgers tallied 3,194 yards rushing (5.5 YPC) and 48 touchdowns on the ground with quarterback Scott Tolzein actually subtracting 30 yards from the net result.

    Nevada has a tendency to run primarily out of the Pistol formation, which was developed by current head coach Chris Ault. The system moves the quarterback from the standard seven-yard shotgun distance behind the center to four. This allows him time to read defenses and properly react as if he were still in the shotgun formation.

    Last year, current San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Keapernick thrived in this environment due to a Nevada’s combination of option, a power run game, and an efficient passing attack. He would go on to rush for 1,206 yards (7.0 YPC) while running back Vai Taua racked up 1,610 yards (5.7 YPC). The Wolfpack’s ground game was able to churn out 4,091 yards (6.1 YPC) and an impressive 52 touchdowns.


    Nevada was actually able to out-perform Wisconsin and, while their numbers were largely earned against weaker opponents, their offensive line shows why they were so successful. The 2010 Wolfpack linemen averaged 291 pounds according to CNNSI.com; a difference of 27 pounds per lineman from the Badgers. This isn’t coincidence, nor is it simply a case of Wisconsin getting better talent. It's by design.

    Ault’s concept requires linemen to not only be able to truck downfield, but also to be able to move across the field laterally to accommodate various option plays. This demands not only reliable depth, but more importantly, linemen with serious stamina. The weight of Nebraska's offensive line looks to be at an ideal point to mesh the ideas of Wisconsin’s punishing power attack and Nevada’s multi-pronged assault.

    The X-factor for Nebraska is how efficient Taylor Martinez or any other quarterback can be with the passing game. In 2010, Wisconsin had three players with 300-plus yards receiving, three with touchdowns or more and one with five. Nevada had five players pass the 300-yard mark and four with three or more including two with five. The common thread: Effective passing games to compliment the run.

    If Martinez is in sync with his wide receivers, Nebraska can unveil an offense that has enough speed, misdirection and power to keep opponents guessing all year long.

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    Tags: tim beck, taylor martinez, wisconsin, nevada

  20. 2011 Aug 17

    Husker Heartbeat 8/17: NU Linked to Miami?, Cassidy Shining Bright and Madison Braces for Impact

    6,568 views

    By HuskerLocker

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

    - Former Nebraska defensive end Benard Thomas implicated in Miami scandal

    - Safety Austin Cassidy embraces both his starting spot and his leadership role

    - Madison, Wisconsin is bracing for a Big Red invasion

    - Kicking contenders Brett Maher and Mauro Bondi are slugging it out in the battle to take over for Alex Henery

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
    Like us on Facebook: Official Husker Locker Page

    Tags: miami hurricanes, austin cassidy, wisconsin

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