If you can keep a secret, this image was actually taken in Iowa.
- Chattanooga, 40-7 (W)
- Fresno State, 42-29 (W)
- Washington, 51-38 (W)
- @ Wyoming, 38-14 (W)
- @ No. 7 Wisconsin, 17-48 (L)
- Ohio State, 34-27 (W)
- @ Minnesota, 41-14 (W)
- No. 11 Michigan State, 24-3 (W)
- Northwestern, 25-38 (L)
- @ No. 12 Penn State, 17-14 (W)
- @ No. 18 Michigan, 17-45 (L)
- Iowa, 20-7 (W)
- No. 9 South Carolina, 13-30 (L) Citrus Bowl
Record: 9-4 overall, 5-3 B1G, 3rd place Bo Division
|Rush:||217.2 ypg, 15th||158.5 ypg, 64th|
|Pass:||162.7 ypg, 104th||192.2 ypg, 19th|
|Total:||379.9 ypg, 66th||350.7 ypg, 37th|
|Scoring:||29.2 ppg, 49th||23.4 ppg, 42nd|
|T/O Margin:||-1, 67th|
Recap: Today I learned where the state of Nebraska is on a map. It’s … :
When the B1I1G Ten anschlussed Nebraska, some were surprised that a school like Missouri didn’t even get more than a courtesy consideration. Guns, Germs, and Steel provides some great arguments for why it’s more natural for civilization to spread latitudinally (east-west) than longitudinally (north-south). I expect the B1G’s newest member to be Wyoming in several years unless Notre Dame finally gets culture-flipped* before that.
(more after the jump)
Prior to the 2011 season Nebraska was in an interesting place. They spent the 2010 season losing for the Nth time to a Texas team that wasn’t even bowl eligible, playing ugly games (and losing) against Texas A&M and Oklahoma, before finally dropping their bowl game in a rematch against a Jake Locker-led Washington. It would have been the worst Big 12 farewell tour ever if the Aggies hadn’t decided to follow suit this past season.
I suppose folks down there don’t take kindly to deserters.
Despite the immensely disappointing season, many had the Huskers pegged as B1G favorites last summer; at the very least, most expected them to show up in Indianapolis to play either Wisconsin or … yeah, just Wisconsin.
It was a fair assessment. The Huskers defense returned a lot of talent in All-American DT Jared Crick, All-American LB Lavonte David, and All-Big 12 CB Alfonzo Dennard. On offense superfast chicken-winged QB Taylor Martinez was back, and though they lost RB Roy Helu, Jr., Rex Burkhead was just 50 yards shy of the 1,000 yard mark in 2010, so they seemed to be okay there. Really, offensive line and receiver seemed to be the only iffy positions by virtue of inexperience. The rest of the team was solid if not stellar.
I studied him during warmups and finally figured out what he does: he jerks his head back on the wind-up. If you want to simulate it yourself, just pretend there's a stiff string connecting the ball and your head during the throw.
If you watched Nebraska play through their nonconference schedule, you could tell there was something off about them. They played well enough to win comfortably, but there wasn’t much of a sense that they were completely outclassing their opponents as they were expected to, particularly on defense. Then they hit their B1G schedule.
The night they played Wisconsin I dragged my friends around Ann Arbor looking for a bar that wasn’t completely crowded so we (I) could watch the game. By the time we finally found one (Heidelberg, but we had to wait for the baseball people to leave). Wisconsin was up two touchdowns and Martinez was getting sacked on every down, so then I had to apologize for making such a fuss for an uncompetitive game.
It was surprising how fragile the Huskers were mentally. Once they lost the lead the game might as well have ended for them, especially on offense. And it’s not like the Badgers had a worldbeating shutdown defense -- in fact, their defense would be liable for each of their late game chokes, as would soon be exposed.
Nebraska got over the loss to Wisconsin the next weekend in a close win over Ohio State, but that’s with one huge, huge caveat: if Buckeyes QB Braxton Miller hadn’t gotten injured in the third quarter of the game, forcing Ohio State to Bauserbomb the game away, the Huskers would have lost. Luckily for them, the stars aligned and allowed the Huskers to mount the comeback victory. It was a costly game for them, however -- Crick suffered a torn pectoral muscle and would be lost for the rest of the year.
The only real highlight of the second half of Nebraska’s season was their manhandling of Michigan State. This, of course, was followed by the lowlight of losing to Northwestern a week after. The Huskers ended the regular season on a positive note, beating Iowa at home and allowing Burkhead to set the program record for carries in a game (38), before getting demolished by South Carolina in the Capitol One Bowl.
Nebraska’s defense will likely experience a further dip in 2012 as they adjust to a new coordinator while most of their defensive stars depart for the NFL. Offense should remain status quo since both Martinez and Burkhead return while the line and receivers can’t get much more mediocre than their 2011 showing. Nebraska has done well recruiting over the last several years, ranking in the lower end of Rivals’ top 25, so they’ll at least remain in the discussion for the division title year in and year out.
*Civilization IV reference.
Best win: Michigan State.
Worst loss: Northwestern.
When Michigan played them we thought they were as frightening as: No idea actually, and my fear of the unknowing was worth a fear level of 7.
But now we know they are as frightening as: Somewhat of a 6. The biggest reason for the drop is weakness in the trenches on both sides of the ball. They remind me a lot of Virginia Tech, actually -- lots of great skill players limited by mediocre linemen.
What the win meant for Michigan (in bullet form, with visual aids):
- Mike Martin forced a pitch on a speed option.
- Odoms got behind two defenders and made a diving catch into the back of the end zone.
- Michigan successfully executed a fake field goal because Penn State did it to them in 1995.
- Toussaint went for 138 yards.
- Rex Burkhead went for 36 yards. Total. Really.
- Rex Burkhead tried to block Mike Martin, which was a poor choice.
- Michigan forced two fumbles on special teams.
- Hoke and Mattison were unimpressed by a quadruple option.
And it totally felt as awesome as: