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#1 johnnyhusker82

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 06:13 PM

Shatel: One more bit of business? Beat Texas
By Tom Shatel
WORLD-HERALD COLUMNIST

Let's be absolutely honest here. It's time to mess with Texas.

In fact, while we're laying down the hyperbole, let's call Saturday's last dance between Nebraska and Texas what it is: the most personal home game for the Huskers since Oklahoma in 1978.

You could roll out phrases like “most important game'' or “most meaningful'' since Jim Pillen fell on Billy Sims' fumble. But the 1994 Colorado game featured No. 3 NU vs. No. 2 Colorado. Tom Osborne's first national title was still on the line and Bill McCartney was still Bela Lugosi to most Husker fans. That was pretty meaningful way back when.

Texas? It's important, meaningful and most of all incredibly personal for one simple reason.

Lose to the Longhorns again, and Nebraska will be packing demons on the way to the Big Ten.

Forget the current, blossoming circumstances for the moment. On Thursday night in Manhattan, Kan., Nebraska re-introduced itself as a national title contender. And all of the Heisman pundits and national talking heads know who Taylor Martinez is now. It's been a while since the Huskers have been this alive on the radar.

Ordinarily those things would take precedent over past grudges, but not this time. Not this week.

This one's not about last year's Big 12 title game. Or one second. You can't change what happened. You won't get revenge with a victory. Texas has the trophy and is not giving it up.

This isn't about the Big 12 and Big Ten. If Nebraska wins, it doesn't validate the move east. If the Huskers lose, it doesn't mean they should stay. Nebraska made the right move for itself. So did Texas.

Those are side issues, big-picture stuff that doesn't get settled with shoulder pads. Nebraska already told Texas what it could do with its ultimatum. It stared down the Horns in the board room. Doing it inside the white lines has always been trickier.

This isn't about a last word, either. Not really. Husker fans need to be mindful of that. Some K-Staters put this cosmic significance on Thursday's game, as if victory would be a statement of superiority that would last into infinity. Nah. A K-State win would not have changed the Huskers' view of the Big Ten or K-State or of themselves, for that matter.

Same is true this week. Texas doesn't care about Nebraska. Texas doesn't care if the Huskers are in the Big 12 or the Big East. Texas has never, ever thought about Nebraska, not before the Big 12 and not now. Texans are amused by Husker fans' angst and obsession over them. They don't understand it. They take delight in taunting and teasing NU. Mostly because Nebraskans care so much. Texas cares about money, power and winning. And Texas. Texas cares a lot about being Texas.

So the Big Red can't change that on Saturday. They can't thumb their nose at a league they never truly liked. That might come into play if NU plays for the league title. But this week is about something bigger. Something very personal.

Nebraska just needs to finally beat these guys.

It's been 11 years. Eleven. Where were you in December 1999? Charlie McBride was getting the best of Major Applewhite. Frank Solich won his Big 12 title, and NU's second — and last. Eric Crouch ran wild and it was 22-6 in the Alamodome. And everyone thought it was the beginning of a beautiful, bloody relationship.

But that was it. Texas is 8-1 against Nebraska in the Big 12, including five straight after that 1999 loss. Nobody in Lincolnland would have ever guessed that. But nobody saw a turbulent decade coming. While NU bumbled and stumbled the last 10 years, Mack Brown's program exploded.

They were two ships passing in the night. Even then, the average margin of victory in eight Texas wins over NU has been 6.3 points. Only the 2003 game in Austin (31-7) got out of hand.

And that's what really eats at Nebraskans. Not the arrogance or the power or the fact that Oklahoma turned away from Nebraska and toward Texas. The core of it all is that the Huskers just can't beat Texas. You could stomach some attitude if you beat them once in a while. You hear it from other corners of the Big 12: That's why Nebraska's leaving. Can't beat Texas.

If there's a regret to the timing of the move, that might be it. Nebraska is finally up on its feet and ready to take Texas. We saw it last December. We rarely saw these two on equal footing in the Big 12. If Nebraska was staying, this “rivalry'' would be strapped to a rocket. But it's not. And it won't. And that's why this one is a must-win for the soul.

NU needs to know it can do it.

This is somewhat similar to the 1970s. Osborne lost his first five games to Oklahoma. Back then, NU had beaten the Sooners in meaningful games of the century. But Osborne hadn't. And even though fans thought this young coach might work one day, he couldn't beat OU. And it was driving everyone nuts.

Finally, in perhaps the most brutally physical game in Memorial Stadium history, Osborne, Rick Berns, John Ruud and Pillen drew a line in the turf and got it done in 1978.

This game has that feel. It's the feel of urgency, broken bones and determination. It's time again. Or else it's going to be a long drive to Iowa City.
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#2 johnnyhusker82

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 06:15 PM

At long last, it's time to start talking Texas

By Mitch Sherman
WORLD-HERALD BUREAU

* * *

LINCOLN — Even Nebraska's enigmatic freshman quarterback understands the significance of what's next for the Huskers.

Ever since the Big 12 championship game last December — a 13-12 Texas win over NU — Taylor Martinez said the whole state of Nebraska has looked forward to Saturday. And if Martinez, the insulated and often seemingly oblivious first-year starter, is talking about it, it must be big.


NEBRASKA GAMES VS. TEXAS
Since formation of the Big 12 in 1996
• 1996: Texas 37, Nebraska 27 (Big 12 championship)
• 1998: Texas 20, Nebraska 16
• 1999: Texas 24, Nebraska 20
• 1999: Nebraska 22, Texas 6 (Big 12 championship)
• 2002: Texas 27, Nebraska 24
• 2003: Texas 31, Nebraska 7
• 2006: Texas 22, Nebraska 20
• 2007: Texas 28, Nebraska 25
• 2009: Texas 13, Nebraska 12 (Big 12 championship)
“I'm really excited for the game,” Martinez said. “It's going to be fun.”

The young QB is right about one thing: People around Nebraska have anticipated this visit to Memorial Stadium from Texas with as much fervor as any game in recent NU history. And the Longhorns' two straight losses, while diminishing some of the national appeal, have not tempered their excitement.

NU players used that most recent loss as motivation to fuel offseason workouts. They wore wristbands as a reminder of the one second that remained when Hunter Lawrence kicked a 46-yard field goal to beat Nebraska in Arlington, Texas, denying it a first Big 12 title since 1999.

In many ways, the past 10 months at Nebraska have been spent pointing to Saturday, the opening five games just speed bumps until the Horns come knocking.

Well, it's here. And finally, NU players and coaches can give it their full attention. Many others began planning months ago — like the Nebraska athletic department, which devised a marketing campaign, Red Out Around the World, that pointed to Saturday.

“We couldn't focus on that game when we had all those other games before it,” I-back Rex Burkhead said. “It was tough, when that's all everyone wants to talk about.”

Coach Bo Pelini has shunned talk of Texas since July. But that changes this week, now that his team has made it this far unblemished at 5-0 after a 48-13 win Thursday over Kansas State.

“That was our goal,” Pelini said. “Our goal was always to win them all. We know that's a heck of a football team that's coming into Lincoln. It just shows we've taken care of business up to this point, but we've got to keep getting better.”


Contact the writer:

402-444-1031, mitch.sherman@owh.com
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#3 johnnyhusker82

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 06:17 PM

Disappointment dogs Huskers in Horns' series

By Dirk Chatelain
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER
Finally, Texas at Nebraska. How will it turn out? Read on, brave Husker fan, and learn what NU must do to keep this story from ever being written.

* * *

From the Omaha World-Herald, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010:

Bo Pelini walked briskly toward Memorial Stadium's north tunnel, saying nothing to no one, looking nowhere but the turf before him.

Behind him, a herd of Texans gathered at the stadium's southwest corner. They threw up their horns, waited for the band to begin and belted out their traditional battle cry: “The Eyes of Texas.”

When they finished, Texas players loitered on the turf. This was likely the final meeting between Texas and Nebraska for a long, long time, and they wanted to relish their upset win.

“We knew they had a special season going. We knew how bad they wanted to beat us. They couldn't do it,” a Longhorn said. “They'll have to live with that for the rest of their lives.”

Not far away, Pelini's team tried to put its emotion into words.

“We've been thinking about this day forever,” one Husker said. “This is why we worked so hard in the offseason. To come out and fail to execute like that ... I think we wanted to win too bad.”

* * *

Flash Forward

Can Texas do it again?

Husker fanatics may lose sleep this week considering the possibility. Their team, on paper, is better in just about every phase.

Advertising
TEXAS AT NEBRASKA
• When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday
• Where: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln
• TV: ABC
• Radio: 1110 AM KFAB

NEBRASKA GAMES VS. TEXAS
Since formation of the Big 12 in 1996
• 1996: Texas 37, Nebraska 27 (Big 12 championship)
• 1998: Texas 20, Nebraska 16
• 1999: Texas 24, Nebraska 20
• 1999: Nebraska 22, Texas 6 (Big 12 championship)
• 2002: Texas 27, Nebraska 24
• 2003: Texas 31, Nebraska 7
• 2006: Texas 22, Nebraska 20
• 2007: Texas 28, Nebraska 25
• 2009: Texas 13, Nebraska 12 (Big 12 championship)
Since the tug-of-war in Dallas in December, Nebraska hasn't lost — 6-0. It's a trendy choice for national champion.

Texas is 3-3. Loser of two straight. Unranked for the first time in 10 years.

But this is Texas. And the Longhorns have beaten Nebraska plenty when Nebraska had the better team. Four times since 1996 the Huskers had a higher ranking and lost.

Nebraska is 1-8 overall since the Big 12 formed, and each loss seems a new form of psychological trauma.

In the form of a bold fourth-down conversion to upend a national title shot ('96). Or an 85-yard touchdown drive to ruin a 47-game home winning streak ('98). Or a goal-line fumble, leading to Nebraska's only loss of the year ('99).

Or a last-second interception after a furious rally in Lincoln (2002). Or a last-minute fumble after a furious rally in Lincoln (2006). Or a defensive collapse after racing to a 17-3 lead ('07).

The latest kick in the gut: pushing the undefeated Horns to the limit at the Big 12 championship game, only to see officials restore one second to the game clock. Texas kicked a field goal at the gun and extended Nebraska's drought without a conference championship to 10 years.

Forget the details. Forget the score. A loss this time would be worst of all.

The nightmare

Sometimes the congregation meets at Memorial Stadium on Saturdays out of habit. Social routine — like raising a hand above the steering wheel when you see a familiar car.

This time was different.

In living rooms and office complexes, on street corners and phone calls, they vowed to see Nebraska-Texas if it cost them a week's salary. And they showed up acting like lottery winners — boisterous from the moment they entered the gates.

The tunnel walk was a rush. The first hit intense. And Memorial Stadium turned into an 8-year-old's birthday party when Taylor Martinez dashed 50 yards on the opening drive for a touchdown. 7-0.

But the Horns rallied. Made a few plays offensively. Took advantage of a fumble deep in Husker territory. Texas slowed Martinez on the zone read, and he struggled to hit receivers.

In the end, the decisive blow was a touchdown on special teams.

A new way to lose to Texas.

Pressure shifts

Bo Pelini restored Nebraska under extremely high expectations. We're talking about a program with the highest winning percentage in the country since 1960.

But there's a hint of irony. Pelini's team not once has faced the expectation to beat an elite program.

Nebraska wasn't supposed to beat Oklahoma or Virginia Tech either of the past two years. And it wasn't supposed to beat Texas in Dallas.

Look closer and you'll see that, since 2008, Nebraska played its best football when it wasn't supposed to. When it didn't feel the burden of expectation.

In 2008, Virginia Tech and Missouri humbled the Huskers at home. A week later, with the walls closing in, they went to Texas Tech and nearly shocked a top-10 team.

A month later, Oklahoma embarrassed NU. Nebraska came home and got a gut-check win over Kansas.

In 2009, miserable back-to-back home losses to Texas Tech and Iowa State turned the world upside down. Then Nebraska won five straight.

When no one thought it could beat Texas, it almost did. And when we questioned its ability to respond to the disappointment in Dallas, it drubbed Arizona.

Maybe there's a reason. Pelini, as competitive as any coach in the business, has never shied away from confrontation. His teams — that typically play better on the road — thrive in adverse situations. The Huskers feed off a strong sense of external doubt.

This week, Nebraska will not have that weapon in its arsenal. NU is an overwhelming favorite to beat Texas. The tables have turned. Will Nebraska feel the pressure?

All week, Husker players will hear and absorb praise from family, friends and fans. Can't wait to see what you do to Texas, they'll say.

Players will walk onto the field Saturday not with the task of toppling big, bad Texas in enemy territory, but with 85,000 — and millions more on TV — in their back pocket, waiting for them to expose, exploit and punish lowly, limping Texas.

They won't want to win. They'll have to win.

And yet, despite all the good vibes, rosy predictions and tea leaves suggesting this is the week Nebraska gets its revenge, you have to wonder about the orange ghosts. Does doubt dwell somewhere in the back of these Huskers' minds?

Head games

So the psychological challenge exceeds the football challenge.

Bo Pelini has to convince his players they're the better team — but ultimately still disrespected. The Huskers have to feed off the overwhelming support — but not be burdened by it. Tap into the emotion and immensity of the moment — but not be paralyzed by it.

If it works, Taylor Martinez makes Texas look slow and the Blackshirts make Garrett Gilbert look immature and Oct. 16, 2010, becomes a banner day in Husker football history — the day the boys in red sent Texas back to its Big 12 pasture, tail between its hoofs.

The reward for winning is great. The penalty for losing is greater.

Contact the writer:

649-1461, dirk.chatelain@owh.com
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#4 johnnyhusker82

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 06:18 PM

Steven M. Sipple: Secondary brings a measure of comfort

In college football guru Phil Steele's 2010 preseason magazine, he ranked Texas' secondary as the nation's finest, with Nebraska at No. 2.

Wonder if Steele is reconsidering.

He probably should.

"They have a bunch of good ballplayers over there," Husker secondary coach Marvin Sanders says of the Longhorns. "I would never take anything away from them. But I love the group I have. I'd take the group I have back there any day."

Statistically, Nebraska's secondary is playing better this season than it did a year ago, which is saying something, considering the Huskers last season finished 18th nationally in pass defense, allowing only 178.9 yards per game.

Nebraska (5-0) is allowing 128.0 passing yards this year. What's more, the Husker secondary has 11 interceptions, compared with four through five games last season.

Texas (3-2) is surrendering only 150.2 passing yards, but has only two picks by defensive backs and generally has fallen short of expectations on both sides of the ball.

With Ndamukong Suh gone to the NFL, much of Nebraska's team-wide confidence now emanates from its superior secondary play, though make no mistake, it's a well-balanced defense.

It all starts on the perimeter with cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Alfonzo Dennard and hybrid Eric Hagg.

"When you can commit those guys one-on-one on receivers, you can add your safeties in the run defense a little more," Sanders says. "And when you have guys like (safeties) Rickey Thenarse and P.J. Smith -- guys who can stop the run -- it gives you a lot of versatility."

Nebraska senior defensive back DeJon Gomes was versatility personified in Thursday's 48-13 triumph at Kansas State. He sneaked up and played linebacker when the run-oriented Wildcats went to a two-back, no-tight end, three-receiver set. He played superbly, recording 12 tackles and forcing a fumble.

Indeed, the entire Nebraska secondary's versatility was on display. Sanders asked his guys to be more mindful about helping stop the run. They played a key supporting role in holding 6-foot-2, 230-pound tailback Daniel Thomas to 63 yards on 22 carries.

"I think all our kids were sick of hearing they couldn't stop the run," Sanders says.

Nobody ever questions Nebraska's pass defense. I think it's clear we're watching the Huskers' best secondary since at least 2003, when NU led the nation in pass-efficiency defense. It says here Sanders' current crew is stronger across the board than the 2003 bunch, which was led by twins Josh Bullocks and Daniel Bullocks at safety and Fabian Washington, Pat Ricketts and Lornell McPherson at corner.

In terms of overall talent and skill, I'd even rank this Nebraska secondary ahead of those on any of the Huskers' 1990s national championship squads. Yes, that good.

The 1981 and 1973 Nebraska teams led the nation in pass defense. That 1981 secondary was led by safety Jeff Krejci, monster back Sammy Sims and corners Ric Lindquist and Rodney Lewis. The 1973 backfield leaned hard on safety Bob Thornton and cornerbacks Zaven Yaralian and Randy Borg.

It's difficult for me to say how the 2010 Nebraska secondary stacks up against those past great ones, as well as others over the years. I didn't watch the 1981 and 1973 secondaries quite as intently as I watched Miss Mary Ann and her Magic Mirror on "Romper Room" (I was 7 years old in 1973).

That said, I watch this year's Nebraska secondary knowing I may never cover another as strong overall at NU.

As for cornerbacks, Nebraska obviously has had its share of talent over the years. But has NU ever had a pair as physically gifted as Amukamara and Dennard?

"As a coordinator, they give you a lot of comfort," Nebraska's Carl Pelini said. "You can sleep at night, knowing we're going to use our safeties to defend the run some."

Nebraska's comfort becomes Texas' headache, as if the Longhorns didn't have enough of them already.

Reach Steven M. Sipple at ssipple@journalstar.com or 402-473-7440.
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#5 Boxcar Willie

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 06:32 PM

Losing to Texas would be indefensible.

We must beat Texas or the season is a failure.

How will this team handle prosperity?

Win the fucking game!


"We don't point the finger around here we point the thumb." Bo Pelini responds after another sluggish offensive performance. Not sure which game since our offense is always fucking awful.

"I think we can be real stout against the run, and I think our secondary is going to be really good. I mean, there's potential for us to have our best defense we've had here." Carl Pelini assesses the 2011 defense during spring ball.

"We play to win Championships. If you don't win a Championship it isn't a successful season." Bo's comments during fall camp 2011.

We didn't win a championship but it isn't always about winning championships." Bo Pelini responds after finishing the season 9-3 and a third place finish in the Legends Division.

"We played sloppy." Bo Pelini responds following 2009 TT, 2009 ISU, 2010 SDS, 2010 A&M, 2010 Holiday Bowl, 2011 CHATT, 2011 Fresno ST, 2011 Wisconsin, 2011 Northwestern, and Michigan 2011.

#6 fieron

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 07:53 PM

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#7 LouisvilleHusker

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 08:25 PM

I want hate.

I want vitriol.

I want kill Texas, eat their children, bite their fucking ears off. (Sorry, channeled Tyson there for a second)

This game is bigger than Miami 1994 and OU 78 combined.

We are going to stomp a motherfucking mudhole in Texas' ass.

I hope we hang 50 on those arrogant, slacker, hippie cocksuckers.
"Unconditional fucking surrender. It ain't over in Falluja until a bunch a Marines are standing on top of a pile of rubble looking down at any survivors, telling them, 'You shut the fuck up and do what I say. If you behave, maybe in a hundred years we'll give you a casino'".-Sgt Antonio Espera-Generation Kill

#8 johnnyhusker82

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 08:26 PM

Nebraska Football: A Texas-Sized Test on the Horizon
By Kraig Lundberg (Contributor) on October 10, 2010 672

Don't kid yourself Nebraska fans. The Texas Longhorns are dangerous.

I'll go so far as to say they are even more dangerous now than if they were undefeated and ranked fourth, as many thought they would be.

After a heartbreaking loss to the Oklahoma Sooners in the annual Red River Rivalry, following that unspeakable upset by the mediocre UCLA Bruins, the Texas Longhorns are suddenly gasping for air.

For the first time in an NCAA record 162 consecutive weeks, Texas is unranked, and the Longhorns are suddenly playing for their season.

Enter the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

On October 16th, Texas has an opportunity to salvage its season against a team that it has historically owned. The Longhorns are 9-4 against the Huskers, including 7-1 in the Mack Brown era. The 'Horns have won five games in a row against Nebraska since dropping the Big 12 Championship to the Huskers in 1999, a game in which the Huskers got revenge against a regular season loss to Texas just weeks before.

That's correct. Mack Brown has beaten Nebraska every single season he has played them.

As much success as Texas has had against Nebraska, however, many of those wins were very close and could have easily gone the other way. Since Mack Brown's first season as head coach of the Longhorns, six of their seven wins against the Huskers were by four points or less.

Undefeated Nebraska will again try to get revenge against Texas, this time for a heartbreaking, but fair, one-point loss to the Longhorns in the 2009 Big 12 Championship game. Will they be able to finally turn the corner against the Longhorns? Even if they are able to, it won't be easy.

The last time Nebraska played an unranked Texas team, the Huskers were ranked seventh and ended up being upset 20-16. Eerie.

The outcome could be very similar this year.

Nebraska's offense has exploded with the sensational Taylor Martinez at quarterback, but Texas has by far the best defense Nebraska will have faced all year, and has a lot more speed and athleticism than Kansas State. The Longhorn defense will be the most complex puzzle Martinez will have to solve yet. Led by Sam Acho, Keeston Randall, Eddie Jones, and Keenan Robinson, the Longhorns have a nasty run defense that will have to be loosened up with some big pass completions.

If only that were easy.

The defense's strength is the secondary, led by Curtis Brown, Chykie Brown, Aaron Williams, and Blake Gideon. Nebraska will have to figure out how to complete key passes against one of the best secondaries in the nation, otherwise the run offense will go stale and we may see the game snowball on the young Martinez.


Garrett Gilbert
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images The biggest danger for the Nebraska offense is turnovers. They have been very bad about fumbling this year, and if they cannot hold onto the ball, Texas' points could come from the defense. An aggressive Texas secondary, comparable to Nebraska's, could also give Martinez fits.

Texas' offense is another story.

The running game, which was heavily emphasized in the offseason after the departure of do-it-all quarterback Colt McCoy, has been very disappointing for the Longhorns. After watching the Blackshirts shut down the talented Daniel Thomas, it's hard to see the Longhorns running the ball successfully against them.

Speedster D.J. Monroe, who is averaging almost 12 yards per carry and had a 60-yard touchdown against Oklahoma, might cause some problems for the Huskers, but I see the speed of the Husker defense, with Lavonte David, Eric Martin, Dejon Gomes, and Eric Hagg, offsetting Texas' most explosive weapon.

The Longhorns' passing offense, led by sophomore quarterback Garrett Gilbert, has been somewhat effective. Gilbert has completed 63.3 percent of his passes for over 1,100 yards, and has spread the ball around well, with five players already over 14 catches. Unfortunately for Texas, they will be facing arguably the best secondary in the nation.


Nebraska's secondary has been spectacular this season, picking off 11 passes in the first five games, including a combined seven against two top NFL prospects, Jake Locker and Nathan Enderle.


Bob Levey/Getty Images Dating back to Nebraska's five interception performance against OU quarterback Landry Jones in 2009, the secondary has developed a reputation for making quarterbacks look silly. The Huskers held Locker to four-of-20 passing, and they picked off Enderle five times, returning two, back-to-back, for touchdowns.

Garrett Gilbert, who has thrown five interceptions to four touchdowns this year, might have a tough day against the opportunistic Huskers.



As I said earlier, I think Nebraska is in more danger against Texas than if Texas had been undefeated up to this point, because now the underrated Longhorns have little to lose and a lot to gain. Nebraska, on the other hand, has a whole lot to lose. Top-ranked Alabama's loss to South Carolina opened a door for Nebraska to the National Championship.

If the Huskers can go undefeated and beat OU in the Big 12 Championship game, the Huskers would likely be issued into the BCS Championship against, presumably, Ohio State or Oregon. (Sorry Boise State fans, but an undefeated Nebraska against Big 12 competition would get the nod over an undefeated Boise against WAC competition if it comes down to that.)


But to do that, the Huskers will have to get by their toughest test to date. The Longhorns will come out with their hair on fire, and Nebraska better be ready.


Jamie Squire/Getty Images After last season's Thursday-night Big 12 opening win, the Huskers were in a sickeningly similar situation. The Huskers had defeated Missouri on the road with a furious fourth-quarter comeback and were receiving a lot of hype as a result. The next game was a home game against unranked Texas Tech, a game many pegged as a trap game.

The Huskers played their worst game of the year and lost to the Red Raiders 31-10.

The game against the Longhorns is a trap game if I've ever seen one. Nebraska will have to play their best football to beat Texas. They will have to play with a consistency that we have not yet seen in the Bo Pelini era. I think, because of the match up problems the Blackshirts will pose to the Texas offense, Nebraska wins an emotional game 20-10 that will be closer than that score indicates. But I also thought Nebraska would beat the Red Raiders about this time last season.

Nebraska's last Big 12 season hinges on the Texas-sized test looming on October 16th.

No pressure, Huskers, just beat Texas.

Easy, right?




Food For Thought

•Oklahoma State found an offensive rhythm in the second half against Louisiana Lafayette and took down the Ragin' Cajuns 54-28 after trailing 21-17 at the half. The Cowboys have an explosive offense, but their defense needs some work. They seem to show up in big games, so they will also pose a stiff test for Nebraska.
•Baylor fell just short against Texas Tech, 45-38. I see the Bears, behind star quarterback Robert Griffin, making a bowl game this year.
•Georgia ended a four game skid, smoking Tennessee 41-14. Star Bulldogs receiver A.J. Green is amazing and will be a top 10 NFL draft pick.
•As I suspected, Denard Robinson finally looked human against the first good defense he has faced all year, and Michigan's suspect defense could not keep up with Michigan State as the Spartans ran away with a 34-17 win. Will Taylor Martinez have a similar fate against Texas?
•And the Tide has finally been rolled! The South Carolina Gamecocks knocked off top-ranked Alabama 35-21. People who picked 'Bama to win a second consecutive championship don't understand how difficult it is to win that many games in a row. The last team to do it was Nebraska in 1994 and 1995.
•The Arizona Wildcats' dreams of a Pac-10 title were dashed with a 29-27 loss to the pesky Oregon State Beavers.
•Texas A&M took 11th ranked Arkansas to the wire in a 24-17 loss. Ryan Mallett is overrated, but A&M will provide another stiff test for the Huskers.
•LSU knocked off the Florida Gators 33-29 in a game of underachievers. Alabama will still win the SEC.
•The Miami Hurricanes have been exposed. The Florida State Seminoles walked all over the 'Canes 45-17. The overrated Jacory Harris hit just 40 percent of his passes and threw a pick.
•Stanford barely survived a near let-down after an emotional loss to Oregon, beating USC 37-35.
•The Washington Huskies played a good Arizona State team to the end, losing 24-14. ASU is a team that gave Oregon a scare. Nebraska's win in Seattle is looking better and better.


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#9 Coloradosker

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Posted 10 October 2010 - 08:37 PM

Sorry but I'm just not buying the Texas defense just yet. I saw a picture by picture breakdown of someof their plays against OU. Their linebackers and secondary are repeatedly out of position and against an offense like ours, that means TD. When you're just a step or two out of position and getting burned by KEVIN FUCKING PRINCE, what do you think tmart is going to do to you? OU had very little success throwing the ball against their secondary and I imagine we will have our struggles as well. But OU ran on them the same as UCLA and OU has that same shitty Oline from last season. Makes me think we will have some success in the rushing game against them. If they key on TMart, Helu or Burkhead will burn them. If we can put up 21 points, we win, and the way their offense turns over the ball, we should have some gift-wrapped field position. They flat out cannot run the ball and Gabbert is going to be baited into a couple of picks. Bet on it.
There are offensive geniuses up and down the block, some real and some like Dan Hawkins, who either can't find a quarterback or doesn't recognize one.

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#10 johnnyhusker82

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Posted 11 October 2010 - 06:27 PM

Yes, Steve Pederson, you can run and win at Nebraska

By Richard Cirminiello

South Carolina was dominant. Michigan State is weaving a special season. Florida State is building a bridge to the glory days. And yet, in terms of the national championship race, Nebraska is the one program that seemed to make the loudest statement of Week 6.

Yeah, yeah, Kansas State was on the opposite side of the field last Thursday night, but the opponent really wasn’t the issue. Big Red has begun to impose its will on the other team, regardless of who it may be. If the game was in Austin or Norman, you get the feeling that the Huskers would still be swarm tackling and running the ball as if the Big 8 was still in vogue. Nebraska is dismantling the competition in systematic fashion. Give a ton of credit on offense to coordinator Shawn Watson, who has deftly adapted to his personnel, crafting a power system that accentuates the attributes of QB Taylor Martinez and RB Roy Helu. The Huskers are averaging 337 yards a game and a mind-blowing 7.7 yards a carry. Who needs to pass with those kinds of numbers? The defense has been stout under the guidance of Carl Pelini, holding opponents to 12 points a game. The line is getting penetration, the secondary is among the best in the country, and LB Lavonte David is evolving into an All-American in his first year out of Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College. Through five games, what’s not to like about this school?

To the detractors guffawing about the schedule, sure, it hasn’t been too thorny, but it’s not as if the Huskers have been pressed by the likes of Washington or Kansas State. They won each of those games by five touchdowns. Going forward, who won’t they be heavily favored to beat? Texas and Missouri are in Lincoln. Oklahoma State and Texas A&M won’t have nearly enough defensive talent to keep this juggernaut from racking up a ton of yards on the ground.

As always, there were plenty of impressive moments throughout the past weekend. None, though, moved me more than what’s taking place under Bo Pelini at Nebraska. The Huskers are beginning to roll, picking up a head of steam as the season unfolds. More than Ohio State and more than Oregon, I’m beginning to feel that this might be the most complete, championship-ready program in America, especially now that ‘Bama has vacated the poll position.
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#11 johnnyhusker82

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Posted 11 October 2010 - 06:29 PM

NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Cruelest Series
Commentary: To write the final chapter of the Texas book - make the plays and be the aggressor
by Samuel McKewon

October 10, 2010


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ESPN.com

Nebraska and Texas face off for perhaps the final time in many years. The Huskers need to be aggressive.
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What stings about the Nebraska-Texas series since the inception of the Big 12 – UT leads in 8-1 – is that, with startling regularity, the games boiled down to a play or two.



The ones the Longhorns made. The ones the Huskers didn’t. That Texas – deemed a flash-and-glam bunch by any number of NU fans - mustered up some resolve or toughness that Nebraska couldn’t quite grasp.



That’s why it’s cruel, these nine games. Aside from the 2009 Big 12 Championship – when the more talented Longhorns puckered severely under NU pressure, but survived – UT hasn’t relied on luck to beat the Huskers, but pluck. Some NU fans spin it 12 different ways, but that’s the meat of it.



James Brown rolled left into the teeth of a ferocious Blackshirt defense to float a perfect pass on fourth down and clinch the win in 1996.



In 1998, Major Applewhite returned from a concussion to lead one of the greatest drives – no kidding – in the history of Memorial Stadium, a 14-play, 85-yard march, with four third-down conversions, amidst a vicious Husker crowd with a 47-game home winning streak on the line.



It was Applewhite again in 1999, overcoming a 13-3 halftime deficit with a nearly perfect second half against one of the best secondaries in Husker history. Nathan Vasher intercepted a pass on the UT goal line in 2002. Aaron Ross forced a key Terrence Nunn fumble in 2006. Jamaal Charles blazed for more than 200 fourth-quarter yards in 2007.



The common thread that emerges from those nine games isn’t fate. It’s playmaking. Not platitudes, but players. And as Nebraska loads up for a final stab at the Horns’ heart – if NU wins here, forget about UT playing the Huskers again in Dallas – it would be wise to revisit those themes, and write a worthy final chapter.



A crucial key: Aggression. Not letting Texas “settle in” to its gameplan. Attack early, often and with ill intent. The Longhorns lack the offensive talent to punch back against NU’s superior defense.



Curiously, it wasn’t Bo Pelini who initially set this tone with Texas. It was the uber-goat, Kevin Cosgrove, with his “what the hell, let’s blitz every down” approach at Austin in 2007. Nebraska’s defense limped into that UT game whipped, humiliated, finished. Cosgrove and Bill Callahan were already packing suitcases. But NU had some resolve, and Cos, almost to prove a point, drew up the kind of plan that’s all kinds of unsound. You wants us to stop the run? Here you go.



And if Callahan had ever – and I mean ever – been a decent fourth-quarter coach, the strategy would have worked. NU took a 17-9 lead into the final 15 minutes, even creating a turnover that left the Huskers with terrific field position in UT territory. We won’t revisit Callahan’s playcalling on that particular three-play sequence, other than to say that, for me, it nailed his coffin closed. Charles busted one giant run, then another, as Nebraska’s defense, and Cos ran out of gas.



But it was watching that rather pitiable Husker team knock Texas back on its heels, if only for a half that proved what Bo Pelini is so good at perfecting: The way to an opponent’s heart is through harassing its quarterback.



He applied those lessons in the 2009 Big 12 title game. Far from sitting back in a zone that afforded too much respect for UT’s skill players, Pelini challenged his secondary to match up and dare Colt McCoy to thread the needle. That confidence, aggression, was refreshing and effective. NU’s offense couldn’t reciprocate, of course, for reasons driven into the earth in every small-town café and message board.



But it was the attitude – that Nebraska, after years of close losses, had to knock out the champ – that should set the tone for this week. NU should desire to ambush the Longhorns. Even if the Huskers are in plain sight.
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#12 johnnyhusker82

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Posted 11 October 2010 - 06:37 PM

Husker O-line on the rise heading to toughest challenge
StoryBy BRIAN CHRISTOPHERSON / Lincoln Journal Star | Posted: Sunday, October 10, 2010 11:45 pm

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Nebraska's Rex Burkhead gets a huge block from teammate Ricky Henry (74) against Washington on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2010. (LJS file) .
..So much for safety in the secondary. This was a vision of horror for those defensive backs donning purple jerseys.

Keith Williams and Ricky Henry and their combined 615 pounds were charging right ... at ... them.

Uh-oh.

Williams picked out cornerback Thomas Ferguson to push around. Nebraska's senior left guard was 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage when he took Ferguson out of the play.

Then there was the contact-craving Henry. Along with running back Roy Helu, he targeted Emmanuel Lamur. Henry put his helmet into the K-State safety's chest. Another Wildcat eliminated.

Now there was at least a 4-yard gap between the blocks of Williams and Henry, and Taylor Martinez was about to show off how fast he could run.

Uh-oh.

This is how quarterback draws become 80-yard touchdowns and how a redshirt freshman becomes one of the most buzzed about players in college football.

There is no Martinez highlight show without some serious grunt work by those who never get their names in the headlines.

Williams, Henry, Mike Caputo, Jeremiah Sirles, D.J. Jones - all of them owned their blocks on Martinez's longest of many long runs.

"It's about the swagger we have in the offensive line," Williams said after the 48-13 win over Kansas State. "We don't take (crap) from nobody."

But they do take their share of big plays.

On Nebraska's very next offensive play after Martinez's 80-yard run, Helu broke off the right side for a career-long 68-yard touchdown.

Easy as could be. Helu ran between Henry and Jones, who manhandled their guys on the play.

"I think we put some hats on some people and it just kind of broke the game open there," said offensive line coach Barney Cotton.

It was a thundering response by a Husker line that had taken its share of criticism after a lethargic performance against South Dakota State

"We stunk it up. We knew we did," said offensive coordinator Shawn Watson of that SDSU game. "We left a lot of yards and explosive runs on the field. It was really insulting. Because the standard is a lot higher."

But there was a bright side to it. A stink bomb like that made it easy for Cotton to get his line's attention heading into Big 12 play.

During the bye week, as the top units squared off against each other, Cotton saw the intensity building in his troops.

"If you can't get ready for the Big 12 season, something's wrong," he said.

What followed was the kind of statistical domination against the Wildcats that is worth sticking on mother's fridge.

It wasn't just that Nebraska had 451 rushing yards and 587 total yards against K-State. It was that the Huskers produced all that in just 52 plays. Nebraska averaged an incredible 10.7 yards per rush.

Temper that performance if you wish. Kansas State, like the Washington team Nebraska piled up 383 rushing yards against, plays poor run defense. KSU came into the game ranking 102nd nationally against the run.

The competition hasn't been the stiffest, but the numbers are impressive nonetheless.

No team in the country is averaging more yards per carry than Nebraska - 7.7 yards per rush. And the average of 337 rushing yards a game is second nationally behind only Air Force.

It's amazing what better health can do.

"You have to remember last year we didn't have (Brent) Qvale, didn't have Sirles, didn't have (Cole) Pensick," Watson said, noting some of their injuries. "All the kids that go to practice every day and make D.J. Jones better, that make Keith Williams better, that make Caputo better, all that competition, we didn't have it last year.

"That's why all the criticism, that's why I got mad, because no one really understood what we were going through. And that depth creates competition. So if you're a starter you better come to work because you've got a good one behind you."

Now comes the toughest test for this O-line. Texas may have two losses, but the Longhorns have plenty for defensive talent.

Different faces this time, of course, but it was Texas that held Nebraska to just 67 rushing yards and five first downs in the Big 12 Championship last year.

Exactly how far have the Huskers progressed on the offensive line since then? Saturday will tell plenty.

It doesn't hurt to be blocking for a quarterback capable of turning a small crease into a game-changing play.

Yes, playmakers like Martinez can inspire an offensive line, too.

"We're fortunate," Cotton said. "It's not just Taylor, but it's also Roy and Rex (Burkhead) and anyone else that carries the ball for us. They all can put their foot in the ground and go."

This is true. But just remember the old song's lyrics. You can't get by without a little help from your friends. And even better if those are 300-pound friends with chips on their shoulders.

Reach Brian Christopherson at bchristopherson@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439.
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#13 johnnyhusker82

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Posted 11 October 2010 - 06:39 PM

Texas hoping for a change of luck
StoryBY CURT McKEEVER / Lincoln Journal Star | Posted: Sunday, October 10, 2010 11:30 pm

Usually this time of year, Texas draws on its four- and five-star talent to make the difference in the stretch. And that may very well be the case again this year.

But following back-to-back losses to UCLA and Oklahoma, results that dropped the Longhorns out of the Top 25 for the first time since 2000, they'll have no problem counting on some karma as they prepare for Saturday's game at No. 5 Nebraska.

Not only is Texas coach Mack Brown 7-1 against the Huskers, he's 12-0 in the first game that follows Oklahoma. Five of those 12 wins have come against ranked teams, too.

"If we play hard enough, we'll be fine," Brown said following Texas' 28-20 loss to Oklahoma a week ago Saturday.

The Longhorns went into their most recent contest having been thoroughly beaten at home by the Bruins 34-12. In that game, UCLA came up with five turnovers to sour Brown's mood.

"It's very disappointing - the whole thing. It's hard to point out what's worse when it's all bad," he said afterward. "Some kids played well. As a team we played very poorly top to bottom.

"... I'm disappointed and shocked."

Anyone wearing the burnt orange would have been. Remember, this is a program that played for the national championship last season.

"This is The University of Texas and expectations are always high," wide receiver Marquise Goodwin said. "We just have to fill those expectations and get the little things corrected. This one loss is not going to bring us down."

One could now debate that contention.

Against the Sooners, Texas committed two more turnovers (getting none in return) and converted just five of 16 third-down plays.

Meanwhile, its No. 2-ranked defense gave up two long touchdown drives in the first quarter. Three times in the game, third-down penalties after an apparent stop let the Sooners extend drives that all ended in TDs.

In addition, an offside call wiped out a fumble recovery deep in Oklahoma territory.

No wonder the Longhorns are hoping for some better luck.

"I don't say mistakes and penalties - I say we took a loss," Texas defensive end Eddie Jones said when asked about the rash of errors. "We've taken two losses back-to-back and we have to go back out to work and try to figure out a way to win."

Reach Curt McKeever at 402-473-7441 or cmckeever@journalstar.com.
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Posted 11 October 2010 - 06:41 PM

Football team faces Big 12 animosity on first road test
By Dan Hoppen


Published: Sunday, October 10, 2010

Updated: Sunday, October 10, 2010 22:10

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Huskers throttle Wildcats 48-13 as Martinez returns “T-Magic”
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Final conference matchup fueled by Kansas State hatred
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Nebraska secondary coach Marvin Sanders was excited as he pulled out his Blackberry following the Cornhuskers' 48-13 win over Kansas State Thursday night.

"If you guys can, I want you to mention this," he told the group of reporters huddled around him.

The video he showed was taken from Nebraska's team bus as it rolled through Beatrice on its way to Manhattan, Kan. Fans had poured out from all corners of the town of about 12,000 and clapped for the bus as it drove past.

"The whole town came out and wished us good luck," Sanders said. "The whole middle school had signs that said ‘Go Huskers, we love you.' It was just tremendous."

As special as that moment was for the players and coaches, they didn't get nearly as warm a reception once they reached their destination.

The Kansas State faithful didn't take long to voice their displeasure as Nebraska took the field for the last time as a member of the Big 12 Thursday night. That isn't to say the two schools were overly friendly before the Huskers' defection, but the venom seemed to have an extra bite this time.

Numerous signs referencing NU's divorce with the Big 12 taunted both players and schools officials, the most obvious one reading "TREA$ON" in large red letters.

The Husker marching band was booed at halftime and KSU's mascot, Willie the Wildcat, laid out a Herbie Husker imitator before the game.

Nebraska had the last laugh, however, as it left Bill Snyder Family Stadium with a blowout win, but the Huskers expect to face that kind of crowd reaction at every road game for the rest of the season.

"The fans were saying some pretty harsh things when we got here, so we had to shut them up," receiver Niles Paul said. "We just are going to finish with a bang, win the Big 12 North and the Big 12 Conference, and then leave."

"We have a target on our back," said safety P.J. Smith. "They're trying to get us. Everybody's after us. We've got to leave a big impact."

The games carry obvious motivation for the Huskers, who'd prefer to have their final Big 12 season end in a conference title. But there is an equal emotional push for NU's remaining opponents, who all would like to get in one last parting shot as the Huskers head out the door.

"We are going to play all of these teams in the Big 12 for one last time in the near future," coach Bo Pelini said. "So there is probably motivation there on both sides."

One of the most important stops in the Big 12 Farewell Tour comes this Saturday, as the Huskers face Texas for what may be the last time for quite a while. Nebraska coaches and players are still stinging from the last-second loss to the Longhorns last season that cost them a Big 12 title and a BCS bowl appearance.

And the Huskers are eager to prove fans, like the one who held up a sign that read "We'd leave the Big 12 too if we couldn't beat Texas," wrong.

"I can't even think of a word for it," cornerback Prince Amukamara said when asked how bad the Huskers want a piece of Texas. "I think our team is excited and anxious to play them again, and we've got to get to work this next week."

That game is just one of the many hurdles remaining on the schedule, and it's at home. But the Huskers still have three remaining Big 12 road games in which the animosity will likely be as bad or worse than in Manhattan. Road trips to Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Texas A&'M still loom.

If NU comes out of the regular season unscathed, they will face the Big 12 South champion on Dec. 4 at Cowboys Stadium in Texas, a place where the level of Husker hatred is perhaps at its highest.

But on Thursday night, the Huskers weren't thinking that far ahead. They insist that if they take the season one game at a time, they can reach that ultimate goal.

"We feel that way about every game in the Big 12," Smith said. "It is our last time, so we have to put a stamp on everything."

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#15 johnnyhusker82

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Posted 11 October 2010 - 06:45 PM

Getting to know Texas

LAST TIME OUT

Oklahoma did everything it could to keep Texas in the Red River Rivalry two weeks ago, but the Longhorns ultimately couldn’t capitalize and leave Dallas with a win.

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The Sooners took a 28-10 lead early in the fourth quarter, seemingly sealing a victory with a 20-yard run by DeMarco Murray.

Texas never gave up, despite a frustrating day filled with costly penalties and bad breaks.

The Longhorns pulled within eight points with less than two minutes left. They just missed a chance to go for the tie when OU quarterback Landry Jones’ fumble bounced out of bounds before the UT defenders could maintain possession. Aaron Williams muffed the ensuing Sooner punt.

The 28-20 loss was just Texas’ second in six years in its annual matchup with Oklahoma. After dropping a game to UCLA the week before, the Longhorns fell out of the AP poll for the first time in 10 years. They’re now in danger of losing three straight for the first time since 1999.

Texas players can’t really blame anyone but themselves for the loss to OU. They kept alive three of the Sooners’ four scoring drives with third-down penalties. One fumble recovery was wiped away by a penalty, too.

Sophomore quarterback Garrett Gilbert was 27 for 41 for a career-high 266 passing yards. James Kirkendoll caught eight of Gilbert’s throws.

RUNNERS SPUTTERING

Texas’ new-look running attack hasn’t had the impact the Longhorns sought.

More under-center, downhill-style runs. Fewer shotgun-oriented calls. That was supposed to be the way Texas would fix some ground-game deficiencies, transforming the offense into a more balanced unit.

The philosophical shift hasn’t worked.

Sophomore D.J. Monroe, junior Cody Johnson and junior Fozzy Whittaker are all operating out of the backfield, but the identity crisis hasn’t helped the young backs find consistent holes. The Longhorns average 129.8 yards rushing yards per game, the third-lowest total in the conference.

It could be quite possible that the Texas coaches ditch their plans and revert to a spread-like approach Saturday.

UNDAUNTING DEFENSE

Texas’ defense is filled with star power, but the unit hasn’t exactly lived up to lofty expectations.

It’s true there is no Big 12 team that gives up fewer than 254.2 yards per game (UT’s average through five games this year).

But the Longhorns’ defense has struggled during the past two games, allowing UCLA to run all over the field one week and failing to keep Oklahoma from delivering a back-breaking touchdown early in the fourth quarter last week.

And Texas has forced just seven turnovers. Kansas is the only Big 12 team with fewer.

Conference writers included five Longhorns on the preseason All-Big 12 team: defensive end Sam Acho, linebacker Keenan Robinson, cornerback Aaron Williams, cornerback Curtis Brown and safety Blake Gideon. But at least during the past two weeks, those guys haven’t been able to make enough plays to carry Texas to a win.

COACHES UNDER FIRE

When you win at least 10 games nine straight seasons, your fans don’t tend to have much patience for losing.

After two straight disappointing efforts, the passionate Longhorn followers are already starting to turn on 13-year offensive coordinator Greg Davis. The desired firing of Davis seems to be an increasingly popular discussion topic lately on the various Texas-based message boards and blogs.

Head coach Mack Brown, now in his 13th year, doesn’t seem to be receiving much support, either. Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp already has been announced as Brown’s eventual successor. But many UT fans worry that Georgia and LSU might consider Muschamp as a coaching candidate if their seasons don’t end more positively than they’ve started.

So maybe even more than ever, the pressure’s on the Texas staff to perform.

— Jon Nyatawa
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#16 johnnyhusker82

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Posted 11 October 2010 - 06:46 PM

Shatel: One more bit of business? Beat Texas
By Tom Shatel
WORLD-HERALD COLUMNIST

Let's be absolutely honest here. It's time to mess with Texas.

In fact, while we're laying down the hyperbole, let's call Saturday's last dance between Nebraska and Texas what it is: the most personal home game for the Huskers since Oklahoma in 1978.

You could roll out phrases like “most important game'' or “most meaningful'' since Jim Pillen fell on Billy Sims' fumble. But the 1994 Colorado game featured No. 3 NU vs. No. 2 Colorado. Tom Osborne's first national title was still on the line and Bill McCartney was still Bela Lugosi to most Husker fans. That was pretty meaningful way back when.

Texas? It's important, meaningful and most of all incredibly personal for one simple reason.

Lose to the Longhorns again, and Nebraska will be packing demons on the way to the Big Ten.

Forget the current, blossoming circumstances for the moment. On Thursday night in Manhattan, Kan., Nebraska re-introduced itself as a national title contender. And all of the Heisman pundits and national talking heads know who Taylor Martinez is now. It's been a while since the Huskers have been this alive on the radar.

Ordinarily those things would take precedent over past grudges, but not this time. Not this week.

This one's not about last year's Big 12 title game. Or one second. You can't change what happened. You won't get revenge with a victory. Texas has the trophy and is not giving it up.

This isn't about the Big 12 and Big Ten. If Nebraska wins, it doesn't validate the move east. If the Huskers lose, it doesn't mean they should stay. Nebraska made the right move for itself. So did Texas.

Those are side issues, big-picture stuff that doesn't get settled with shoulder pads. Nebraska already told Texas what it could do with its ultimatum. It stared down the Horns in the board room. Doing it inside the white lines has always been trickier.

This isn't about a last word, either. Not really. Husker fans need to be mindful of that. Some K-Staters put this cosmic significance on Thursday's game, as if victory would be a statement of superiority that would last into infinity. Nah. A K-State win would not have changed the Huskers' view of the Big Ten or K-State or of themselves, for that matter.

Same is true this week. Texas doesn't care about Nebraska. Texas doesn't care if the Huskers are in the Big 12 or the Big East. Texas has never, ever thought about Nebraska, not before the Big 12 and not now. Texans are amused by Husker fans' angst and obsession over them. They don't understand it. They take delight in taunting and teasing NU. Mostly because Nebraskans care so much. Texas cares about money, power and winning. And Texas. Texas cares a lot about being Texas.

So the Big Red can't change that on Saturday. They can't thumb their nose at a league they never truly liked. That might come into play if NU plays for the league title. But this week is about something bigger. Something very personal.

Nebraska just needs to finally beat these guys.

It's been 11 years. Eleven. Where were you in December 1999? Charlie McBride was getting the best of Major Applewhite. Frank Solich won his Big 12 title, and NU's second — and last. Eric Crouch ran wild and it was 22-6 in the Alamodome. And everyone thought it was the beginning of a beautiful, bloody relationship.

But that was it. Texas is 8-1 against Nebraska in the Big 12, including five straight after that 1999 loss. Nobody in Lincolnland would have ever guessed that. But nobody saw a turbulent decade coming. While NU bumbled and stumbled the last 10 years, Mack Brown's program exploded.

They were two ships passing in the night. Even then, the average margin of victory in eight Texas wins over NU has been 6.3 points. Only the 2003 game in Austin (31-7) got out of hand.

And that's what really eats at Nebraskans. Not the arrogance or the power or the fact that Oklahoma turned away from Nebraska and toward Texas. The core of it all is that the Huskers just can't beat Texas. You could stomach some attitude if you beat them once in a while. You hear it from other corners of the Big 12: That's why Nebraska's leaving. Can't beat Texas.

If there's a regret to the timing of the move, that might be it. Nebraska is finally up on its feet and ready to take Texas. We saw it last December. We rarely saw these two on equal footing in the Big 12. If Nebraska was staying, this “rivalry'' would be strapped to a rocket. But it's not. And it won't. And that's why this one is a must-win for the soul.

NU needs to know it can do it.

This is somewhat similar to the 1970s. Osborne lost his first five games to Oklahoma. Back then, NU had beaten the Sooners in meaningful games of the century. But Osborne hadn't. And even though fans thought this young coach might work one day, he couldn't beat OU. And it was driving everyone nuts.

Finally, in perhaps the most brutally physical game in Memorial Stadium history, Osborne, Rick Berns, John Ruud and Pillen drew a line in the turf and got it done in 1978.

This game has that feel. It's the feel of urgency, broken bones and determination. It's time again. Or else it's going to be a long drive to Iowa City.


Contact the writer:

444-1025, tom.shatel@owh.com
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#17 johnnyhusker82

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Posted 11 October 2010 - 06:51 PM

QBs can carry Nebraska, OSU

By Jimmy Burch

jburch@ star-telegram.com

Among first-year starting quarterbacks in the Big 12, they represent opposite ends of the age spectrum.

Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden, who shares the NCAA lead in touchdown passes (18), will celebrate his 27th birthday Thursday. Nebraska's Taylor Martinez, a redshirt freshman who leads the nation in rushing touchdowns (12), made his first college start as a teenager before turning 20 on Sept. 15.

They do their jobs in radically different ways, but share a unique bottom line: Neither has been defeated as a starting quarterback in college -- the only current starters in the Big 12 who can make that claim.

Both will receive season-defining tests Saturday to see if they can extend their 5-0 career records as starters.

Weeden, a former pitcher in the New York Yankees' farm system, is the oldest player on any Big 12 roster in 2010. He will lead No. 20 OSU (5-0, 1-0 Big 12) into Lubbock to face Texas Tech (3-2, 1-2). The Cowboys are 0-6 in Lubbock as Big 12 members.

Martinez will be matched up Saturday against the league's only starting quarterback younger than himself: Texas' Garrett Gilbert, 19. Martinez will be asked to do something no Nebraska quarterback has done in the Big 12 era: lead the fifth-ranked Cornhuskers (5-0, 1-0) to a regular-season victory over the Longhorns (3-2, 1-1).

Nebraska is 0-6 in regular-season meetings with the Longhorns as Big 12 members, including 0-3 at home. Mix in a 1-1 record in Big 12 Championship Games and the Huskers are 1-7 against Texas since the league was formed heading into a Saturday showdown in Lincoln, Neb. That could mark the Huskers' final opportunity to knock off Texas before Nebraska joins the Big Ten next season.

Suffice it to say, both of the Big 12's undefeated newcomers at quarterback will be battling negative trends in series history Saturday. But both have shown abilities that suggest they might be the guy who can flip this year's matchup in their team's favor.

Weeden, who ranks fourth nationally in passing yards (322 per game), will face a Tech defense that is 114th nationally in pass defense (279.6 yards per game). Weeden threw for five touchdowns in Friday's 54-28 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette, including three in a second-half rally from a 21-17 halftime deficit.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy cited Weeden, a junior, as one of his "veteran guys" who showed "great leadership" while helping OSU rally to win its first road game this season. Although the challenge will be tougher in Lubbock, Gundy said Weeden -- who has 18 touchdown passes and six interceptions -- has the intangibles to help the Cowboys thrive in another hostile environment.

"There's an advantage in being older. We all know that we're different at 26 than we are at 18," Gundy said. "In order to handle the pressures of being a quarterback and playing at this level, maturity is an advantage. Brandon... has done a nice job. I'm excited about watching him develop and seeing what direction he can take our football team."

Likewise, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini is curious to see how far Martinez, who won the starting job in fall drills, can carry the Cornhuskers. A dual threat, Martinez leads the nation in yards per carry (10.8) and is the leading rusher (737 yards) on a Nebraska team that ranks second nationally in rushing offense, at 337.6 yards per game and 7.8 yards per carry.

Nebraska will face a Texas defense that has surrendered a 100-yard rushing performance by an opposing player in consecutive losses to UCLA (34-12) and Oklahoma (28-20). Martinez got way more than that in Thursday's 48-13 rout of Kansas State, rolling for 242 yards and four TDs.

After the victory, Nebraska tailback Roy Helu, Jr. -- who ground out 110 yards against the Wildcats -- said Martinez has been very proficient in making reads at the line of scrimmage, which has been "the key" to taking the Huskers' option attack to an elite level. Pelini said Martinez, who joins Baylor's Robert Griffin on the short list of candidates as the Big 12's fastest quarterback, "creates some problems for defenses" because of his unique blend of skills.

An overlooked problem is his right arm. Martinez, a 60.9 percent passer, is not included among the NCAA's passing efficiency statistics because he has not attempted the minimum of 15 passes per game to qualify. But he's thrown for 660 yards and three touchdowns, including a 79-yard scoring strike to Kyler Reed against K-State.

With five starts, Weeden said he is "kind of settled in" to the pace of Big 12 football and the game has "kind of slowed down" for him in recent weeks. The same clearly is true for Martinez.

Don't be surprised if either of these fresh faces on the Big 12 landscape finds himself with a 6-0 record as a college starter by Saturday night.

Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760


Read more: http://www.star-tele...l#ixzz126LNRMYI
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#18 RedHell

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 09:25 AM

To Huskers, Texas just next team on schedule




By BRIAN ROSENTHAL / Lincoln Journal Star | Posted: Monday, October 11, 2010 11:45 pm




Nebraska players talked Monday about facing a hungry team this weekend, not necessarily a desperate one.

Yes, sir, the Huskers say they expect a top-notch effort from their struggling underdog foe.

And the fact there's no ranking next to the opponent's name?

"We're not looking at them no different," Nebraska senior defensive end Pierre Allen said, "just because they're not in the Top 25."

Said senior wide receiver Niles Paul: "I think we're going to get their best shot."

Best shot?

Wait a second.

Did somebody change the schedule? Isn't this Texas week? Aren't we supposed to be talking about Texas -- TEXAS! -- for cryin' out loud?

Ten months ago, people were questioning whether Nebraska could even hang with mighty, unbeaten, BCS Championship Game-bound Texas.

Now, the Longhorns aren't ranked, Nebraska is the team challenging for a national championship, and point spreads as large as 10 points make you wonder whether Bevo should just stay home Saturday.

Sheesh. Talk about reversed roles.

"I wouldn't say they are reversed," Allen said. "I mean, they were No. (5) coming into the season, and they're still that same team. Just because they lost two games, they're still the same team that was ranked No. (5) at the beginning."

Plus, this is Texas, the team that's seemingly snatched a rabbit's foot from Barry Switzer's bag of Sooner Magic.

James Brown's fourth-and-1 pass completion for 66 yards.

Correll Buckhalter's fourth-quarter fumble at the Texas 1-yard line.

Nathan Vasher's interception in the end zone.

Aaron Ross' helmet poking the ball loose from Terrence Nunn.

That $#@(&! one second.

Nebraska has played Texas nine times in the Big 12 era. The Huskers have lost eight. Six of those losses have come by four points or fewer, including all three meetings in Lincoln, and last year's 13-12 heartbreaker in the Big 12 title game.

Now, the Huskers think they have the magic -- T-Magic, as in freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez. He's the biggest -- and fastest -- reason the nature of this much-anticipated game has changed.

"He's a guy that scares you to death," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "Every time he touches the ball he has a chance to score, and he has got amazing composure for a freshman."

Combine that with the Longhorns' struggles -- they rank 82nd nationally in rushing offense, 71st in total offense and 80th in scoring offense -- along with a defense that's allowed a combined 62 points in two straight losses ...

"We're a struggling team right now that's trying to get back on track that hasn't played consistently well," said Brown, who's never lost three straight regular-season games at Texas.

"Right now, they've got a huge advantage over us because they're playing so much better than last year and we're not."

Nebraska sophomore safety P.J. Smith said the Huskers have "more pieces to the puzzle to get everything done," particularly on offense, where Martinez has turned a pedestrian unit into a quick-striking outfit.

As for Texas?

"Just take it as another game. It's Texas," Smith said. "They beat us last year, and we were upset about that, but let's just go out and get it done. That's the bottom line.

"Everybody else is hyping it up. We're not worrying about that.”


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#19 johnnyhusker82

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 08:21 PM

Shatel: Crouch says faster D’s will test T-Mart
By Tom Shatel
WORLD-HERALD COLUMNIST

Let’s set up a meeting. Memorial Stadium. Buell Stadium in Millard. Maybe shut down a block or two of O Street. Sell tickets.

Who’s faster, Eric Crouch or Taylor Martinez? Crouch says it’s time to find out.

“I don’t know, I think I better get back in training, so we can get a race going,’’ Crouch said. “Get it over with so people can finally find out.’’

Crouch was joking — I think — as he drove back Monday from a job in Sioux Falls, S.D. The 2001 Heisman Trophy winner has four jobs now: He sells medical equipment to hospitals in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota; he still has a playground equipment company in Omaha that his wife runs; and he just started gigs as a college football analyst for Sirius/XM (with Eddie George) radio and the Versus cable channel.

In his spare time, he answers questions about Martinez (“I get asked 25 times a day”), the redshirt freshman quarterback at NU whose speed has drawn quick comparison to Crouch. Crouch was more than happy to answer a few more on Monday.

On Martinez’s running style: “He looks fast. Real fast. After seeing him play against Kansas State and South Dakota State and a half against Washington, I was impressed.

“I’m a little jealous that he’s not getting touched very much. He’s been walking (into the end zone) in clean. I don’t know that that will continue very much longer. I think you can expect him to play defenses with more speed and defenses that start scheming to stop him with that speed. That’s when his true colors will come out. It’s just great to have an exciting player at quarterback in an offense fans are used to. That’s not to say that Joe Ganz and Zac Taylor weren’t exciting, too. But this is an offense that Nebraska fans equate with success.’’

On Crouch-Martinez comparisons: “He’s kind of a dictating type of runner, and I was, too. I didn’t let the defense force me to make a decision. I always made my own decision. You have to make that decision in a split second. He makes the decision, and he doesn’t tippy-toe around. He goes full speed.

“I was a little lower as a runner. I got hit a lot, and I learned to keep myself lower. He’ll learn that, too, after awhile. He doesn’t fool around. He gets to top speed faster than any quarterback I’ve seen.

“I want to see if he can make someone miss in the open field. So far he hasn’t had to do that. He’s just been running free. I want to see when there’s a guy, or two guys, in front of him in the open field and he’s got to make something happen.’’

On the zone read: “The majority of my career, I was under center, reading the three- and five-techniques and then usually getting hit by those guys. It’s smart to play him back there (shotgun). He can use his vision and keep the linebackers guessing. I love his patience. My senior year, they ran some quarterback counter traps and quarterback power plays for me because defenses took away the outside. I wonder if defenses start doing that to him if they will have to go to some of that.’’

So who’s faster?

“I’m 31,’’ Crouch said. “I’m not even sure he’s 20 yet. He’s faster. I think he’s definitely faster than me.’’

• Yes, we’re all interested to see Martinez this week against a defense with “real speed.’’ Except The Kid faces a defense with real speed regularly in practice and routinely runs away from the competition.

• There will be some eyeballs on the “greatest fans in college football’’ or “classiest fans’’ this Saturday. I don’t like those monikers. They aren’t fair. For one thing, it makes Nebraska fans look like they’re bragging, even though the classy tag came from coaches like Bobby Bowden and Mack Brown.

Steve Pederson put the “greatest fans’’ label above the stadium entrance. Again, not fair. Husker fans are fans, period. They are classier and more knowledgeable and more passionate than some, if not most. But they have their bad apple moments, too, like everyone. This “greatest fans’’ idea is fine as a standard you try to live up to, but NU fans should not be held to it. They’re not perfect. Having said that, I do expect them to applaud the visitors on Saturday even if the visitors make them unhappy.

• The Memorial Stadium expansion plan is just right. The number 90,000 is a nice round figure. Nebraska doesn’t need to be at 100,000. Yes, the state is up to almost 1.8 million. But Nebraska will never be confused with Pennsylvania, Michigan or Ohio in terms of available fannies to fill seats. NU will be the only 90,000-seater in the Big Ten, below the Big Three but still ahead of everyone else. Perfect. Keep demand high. Going to 100,000 seats would be like moving into the mansion on the golf course with 10 bathrooms and a four-car garage when you have three kids and two cars. Don’t live bigger than your means.

• Did Bo Pelini try to run it up on Kansas State? Who knows? So what if he did? It was Pelini’s job to stop Bill Snyder in 2003 and vice versa last week. This is also Bo’s first time near the top of the BCS as a head coach. Style points are a fact of college football life. Especially with Boise State and TCU ahead of you.

• I’m guessing that the Big Ten office and network execs are having a different reaction than Big Ten coaches to what Nebraska is doing.

• K.C. Chiefs fans have to feel good about what they saw on Sunday, even in defeat at Indy. Now if they can get Charlie Weis to have Matt Cassel hand off more to Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs will win 10 games and the AFC West.

• Can’t wait to see 6-foot-9, 270-pound Greg Echenique in person at Creighton hoop madness on Friday night. Looks like Dana Altman left Greg McDermott a nice housewarming present.

• Quick, Tom Osborne. Sign Bo Pelini to a long extension. Watching LSU coach Les Miles’ slapstick every week, it won’t be long before Tiger fans start thinking about Bo. LSU’s Mad Hatter is one wild and crazy coach.

• There’s been speculation about Texas changing back to a passing scheme for Nebraska. The guess here is that offensive coordinator Greg Davis will try to mix run and pass as well as he can. K-State couldn’t offer a pass threat to keep NU honest; Washington ran it but didn’t stay with it. Meanwhile, UT doesn’t have a rusher in the top 10 in the Big 12, and receiver James Kirkendoll ranks 10th in receiving yards per game at 57.6. And all that great skill position talent rushing into Austin every February.

• Had a very proud father moment on Sunday, when 8-year-old Sarah and I watched a Three Stooges marathon together — her first exposure to the Stooges. Emotional moment for dad. Classic moment when Moe, as a census worker, goes to the front door and says, “Married? Or happy?’’

• Whatever happened to Urban Meyer?


Contact the writer:

444-1025, tom.shatel@owh.com
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