Not sure if you've heard, but Nebraska comes to town this Saturday to
kick the crap out of play the Gophers. Big Red will converge upon the Twin Cities and, unlike Iowa fans, we might actually like having them here. With the Huskers at least a 25.5 point favorite, it might not be much of a game, but it's still an event with Nebraska on campus.
So what should we expect? What do we need to know about the Huskers? Glad you asked...because we asked the boys over at the SB Nation Nebraska blog Corn Nation. Here's some questions and their answers...
So welcome to the Big Ten. How do you like the new digs (well other than the ridiculous division names)?
Ricky: I like ‘em. Like ‘em a lot. Save for getting our ass handed to us in Madison, it’s been fun. There’s just something about seeing B1G teams coming through the opposing tunnel at Lincoln that fires me up.
Mike: Everything’s all shiny and new, so we like the place. Plus, it’s been impossible to ignore the train wreck we left behind, so the B1G looks absolutely heavenly in comparison. (Question: What’s ridiculous about "East" and "West"? Oh, sorry... I guess you are using the names the marketing department set up...)
Jon: I went to Madison to that football game and it was hilarious to see Husker fans’ reactions to the Wisconsin student section. Here we were under the impression everyone would be bringing books to the games and studying between plays.
It’s great to be here. When it was announced, I would have thought there would be more animosity than there is... which, it turns out, is none. I’m all for us staying here the rest of my life.
You lost badly to Wisconsin- so will everyone else. How do you like your chances to win the, um, "West" division and get a rematch with Sconnie in the B1G title game?
Jon: I feel a lot better about our chances after watching the Michigan - Michigan State game. Michigan couldn’t complete a pass to save their lives (honestly, I’ll take Taylor Martinez over Denard Robinson any day of the week), while Michigan State had more problems scoring than I would have thought against a Michigan defense that’s had its own share of problems. Our side of the conference is going to beat itself up, so, yeah, I still like our chances.
Ricky: I’m 90% with Jon on this one save for our defense. There’s a reason Blackshirts haven’t been handed out yet. Honestly, I’ll make judgement on it after this Saturday. If we can shut down yet another mobile QB with a young d-line, stop the run, I’ll feel better about our chances. The secondary is coming around and Dennard is almost at full strength.
Mike: I still like our chances, though Michigan State looks a lot stronger than I thought they would be. It’ll come down to whether the Pelini brothers can figure out the defense. I saw sparks in the second half, though that could have been Bauserman backfiring. We’ll know in a couple of weeks.
We all know Taylor Martinez can run with the football and run the option with the best of them. But what about as a passer? When forced to throw he was awful against Wisconsin and had little success through 2 and a half quarters against Ohio State...then everything worked. So is he improving as a passer and do you trust him to win a big game this year with his arm?
Jon: I didn’t understand what our offensive coordinator Tim Beck was doing against Wisconsin in trying to turn Martinez into a constant passer (at one point I think he called 13 straight passes). Martinez is still learning how to be consistent all-around, and one of those things is in making the little things work, which is what he did so well against Ohio State. Do I trust him to win a big game with his arm? Yes, actually, I do, given that we have two receivers that can just run under the ball if he throws the bomb.
Mike: Martinez is still learning to be a quarterback, and he really started to get the hang of "hey, I don’t have to win the game on this play" against Ohio State. It’s just a maturation process young quarterbacks have to go through.
Ricky: I also think it’s Beck putting Martinez in the right position to pass. 3rd and Long is not his strong suit, but if they utilize Burkhead and the play-action, Martinez is much more effective. I’d like to think that Beck realized #3 can’t chuck it down the field all day after that debacle in Madison.
Jared Crick was one of the best defensive players in college football, so how will the Blackshirts be without him? And what are your thoughts on why the D hasn’t been as dominant as expected?
Jon: Crick got injured on the last play of the Washington game, and I don’t think he was the same player he’d been earlier in his career. Honestly, I don’t expect a huge amount of drop-off. Bo Pelini’s defense is dependent upon the corners being able to play man-to-man well, and that hasn’t happened this season - one of the main reasons that the defense has struggled. Expect that to get better as the players progress, and as Pelini figures out the right combination in the secondary.
Mike: What Jon said..but I’d expand that out to the entire secondary. The safeties haven’t played all that well either.
Ricky: This will sound odd, but if there was any All-American to lose on our defense, it was Crick. The staff has done a good job making sure that position was deep. I have a hunch that Terrence Moore is going to be a name you hear a LOT in the 2nd half of the season.
Besides T-Magic and LB Lavonte David, any other big names Gopher fans should watch for on the Nebraska squad?
Mike: Nebraska’s receivers, for one. Freshmen Jamal Turner is as elusive as you can find in the open field, and Kenny Bell can flat out run...and catch the ball. Tight end Kyler Reed is a mismatch waiting to happen. When you punt, keep an eye out for Ameer Abdullah on the return. We now know why Abdullah beat out Turner for punt return duty. Rex Burkhead won’t break off a 70 yard run, but will consistently turn 5-10 yard gains into 10-15 yard gains. And keep an eye on defensive end Cameron Meredith as well.
Ricky: Don’t fall asleep on Tyler Legate (FB). He’s a great blocker and, if you’re not paying attention, he’ll rumble down the field a la the Washington game.
Jon: Uh.... does it strike you as odd that neither Mike nor Ricky mentioned mostly offensive players? The defense is supposed to be the strength of the team! Given that - defensive back Daimion Stafford. He’s a hard hitter, good tackler (second behind David) and this is his first year with the team.
Thoughts on playing Minnesota? In the last decade we’ve almost become an afterthought to our two biggest rivals in Iowa and Wisconsin, so we won’t blame you if you feel the same way. Not that we’re self-conscious about it or anything.
Jon: Minnesota has been my home for over 20 years now, so I’m excited about seeing more Husker games here, whether it’s football or any of the other sports.
Mike: Minnesota has the potential to be a good away-game road trip for Husker fans. More to do than in Iowa City (no duh), and a shorter drive than Madison or Chicago. And while you are suffering through your post-Cosgrove phase, tickets should be plentiful.
Ricky: I’ve been a Minnesota fan since the Herschel Walker years. Wait, oh it’s THAT Minnesota team? Well then.....
I’m an Iowa grad, so I’m accustomed to the apathy that hits when Minnesota comes to town. I really hope Kill can turn that team around. First, hope he gets healthy and THEN I hope he turns the team around.
The Cluster**** that is and will always be the Big 12: Oklahoma kicks out commish Dan Beebe, and instead of ripping Oklahoma or Texas, he says Nebraska didn’t want to agree to give up their TV rights to the conference? I mean, really? NOW he’s going to take shots at the Huskers? I don’t even have a question, I just thought it was amazing- amazingly idiotic, which about sums up Beebe. Egads.
Jon: Last year Nebraska was made out to be some great evil and it was disappointing the way the rest of the conference went along with it. Now Texas A&M is gone, and it looks pretty certain that Missouri will be leaving as well. You’d have thought that after 100 years that our old conference mates would have had more respect, and that Dan Beebe might have shown some class, but I guess that goes to show what a complete ass the man is. I guess in the end it made it a helluva lot easier to leave - and that’s not such a bad thing. It united Nebraska fans in a way that couldn’t have happened otherwise. Maybe we owe Beebe some thanks.
Mike: Dan Beebe was such a tool, it’s hard to take him seriously. Truth be told, the BIg XII was/is/and will continue to be run out of Austin. That’s good news, in a way, for the Baylors and Iowa States, who have no where else to turn. Texas isn’t going anywhere, and so there always will be some sort of Big XII in existence.
Ricky: If you look closely, you’ll still see the tire tracks that we roached when we left the conference. A lot of people are coming down on Missouri saying the SEC is a bad fit, they’ll get killed in the conference, etc. Can you blame them for leaving, though? Granted, the Missouri governor is hiking up his skirt to anyone and everyone, but if you’re in the Big 12 and you’re NOT called Texas or Oklahoma, you’re looking for stability and the EJECT button.
Finally, does Minnesota even stay within three TD’s of the Huskers?
Mike: Perhaps. Nebraska’s been inconsistent, so if the Huskers turn the ball over, and Minnesota plays like they did against USC to open the season, anything could happen. Nebraska found a way to lose to Iowa State (and their backup quarterback) in 2009 with 8 turnovers, so you never know.
Ricky: Yes. NU plays to its opponent and has yet to put their foot on anyone’s throat.
Jon: No. I fully expect Nebraska to come out and take care of business right away. Minnesota has nasty problems with injuries, and the defense still has a Cosgrovian hangover to overcome. I expect something in the 42-17 range.