The game had all the makings to be a trap game, or a sandwich game, or whatever other analogy about overlooking a team you can think of. Seven plays into the game Nebraska was up 7-0 and had ZERO passing yards. You could feel the entire state's worries about Tim Beck's inconsistent play calling get buried deeper into our psyche. Deep down I thought, "Wouldn't it be cool if the Huskers ran for 600 yards tonight, and had zero passing yards?" This offense is turning out to be one of the best in over a decade.
The university did a great job of keeping everyone somewhat interested by unveiling the "Adidas Red Rising" uniforms. The uniforms looked decent off the field, but on the field was a different story. The lighting in the stadium reflecting off of the numbers made them look like they were put together with duct tape and impossible to read. I don't usually join the complaints of the older crowd, but this time I'm on their side. Maybe it's time to rethink this "alternate uniform" thing? Seriously, the last time Adidas made something that was popular, Ice Cube was a gangster rapper who was not yet making Disney films, and Run DMC was rocking the all black track suits. Now the company is so bad someone actually thought this was a good idea.
The Illinois matchup was a sandwich game, and you can't have a sandwich without some meat. So, let's get to the meat of the game, STATS.
If you've been reading my game recaps regularly, you're going to think I'm beating a dead horse here (And if you haven't been reading them, what gives? My game recaps are the only Husker game recaps on the internet fueled by Jaegermeister, guaranteed!). Ameer Abdullah is the best running back in the country, he's one of the best offensive players in the country and after Saturday night, he leads the country in rushing yards (and he didn't even play the whole game, cough cough Gurly cough cough). He ran the ball 22 times Saturday night for 208 yards, his second game in a row going over 200. He also had 3 touchdowns. Some might say, "Thats a damn fine game." Ummm no, that was all done basically in 1 half of football. Ameer only had 2 carries in the second half. That's just friggin ridiculous. I haven't had this much fun watching a player play football since Eric Crouch was gashing defenses. Oh, and guess what? Ameer broke more records, climbing higher in the books during this game. Ameer decided that Nebraska records were lame, and is now starting to race up the books in the B1G. After Saturday, Ameer's all purpose career total is 5,974 yards. That leaves Abdullah 26 yards shy of becoming the 7th PLAYER IN BIG TEN HISTORY with 6,000 career all purpose yards. Before the year is over the narrative on Ameer Abdullah could shift from, "Best offensive player in Nebraska history", to "One of the best offensive players in the Big Ten's history" (Go ahead and start building the statue please!).
Tommy Armstrong didn't have the best game. He threw a head scratcher of an interception that the next drive Illinois quarter back, Reilly O'Toole (he drinks Guinness for sure) sang the song, "Anything you can do, I can do better," and threw an even worse INT in the endzone to the Huskers Daniel Davie. Tommy didn't look great, but the key stat here is, Tommy is now 12-1 as a starting quarterback at Nebraska. HE IS 41-4 SINCE HIS JUNIOR YEAR IN HIGH SCHOOL! He wins at football. Numbers don't always mean everything, but wins and losses do.
- The offense really is looking unstoppable right now. The first time since joining the B1G, they had over 600 yards total offense against a B1G team, finishing with 624. The offense is ranked 2nd in rushing offense in the country, and 8th in total offense in the country. They've also scored touchdowns on 4 of their first possessions this year.
- The defense is kinda sneaky good right now. They allowed another first possession touchdown, but only gave up 14 points total. They also snagged 3 picks, 2 by Daniel Davie and 1 by Nathan Gerry. Nathan Gerry returned his INT 54 yards all the way down to the Illinois 4 yard line. On the return, Randy Gregory ruined another guys football career by unloading a block on him that his parents felt. The guy he hit is ok, but I'm sure he's second guessing playing football right now. He probably had a lot of text messages of support from his friends after the game that sounded like this, "Hey buddy saw your game, remember how good you were at building model airplanes when we were little? Maybe you could just do that instead of get mercilessly blind sided on the football field from now on? Your parents are really worried, we just want you to be safe is all... P.S. Your dad wants to know if you can get Randy Gregory to sign your caved in helmet? You know how he's a big Ebay guy."
- The Blackshirts gave up 211 yards and 14 points in the first half. After that it was shutdown city. They gave up just 128 yards of offense in the second half and zero points. Randy Gregory had 7 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3 quarter back hurries, and 1 block that would make the defensive guy from the movie "The Program" cringe.
The Good: Everything about this game was good. The thing that pops out to me though, is that the offensive identity seems to finally be here under Bo Pelini. It seems that every year, it is hard to tell what Nebraska is offensively. For the second game in a row, Nebraska played smash mouth football, and I absolutely love it. Saturday night the Huskers ran 91 offensive plays, 70 of those were run plays. They are averaging 355 yards rushing per game right. That's pretty good for 2nd best in the country (behind Navy). They also had 35 first downs, which puts them at 136 first downs through 5 games, 3rd in the country. It seems the coaching staff has finally realized what us fans have been clamoring about the since the Callahan days (I know, I shouldn't have said the C word). If you have a great running game, your damn near unstoppable.
The Bad: I did my fair share of nitpicking last week about the defense. They only gave up 14 points this week which was a big improvement from the 31 points last week (yes, I know, Illinois offense is not Miami's). But, eventually they will have to put together a complete game. The Blackshirts have given up an opening drive touchdown in 4 of the first 5 games. That's going to end up costing them. They need a better opening. Before games, I suggest they watch the greatest opening ever...in which Tony Soprano should be able to help them out.
I'm just glad that snooze fest of a game is over with. Yeah, I'll say it, I was watching that game thinking about next Saturday and Michigan State the whole time! I'm glad the players weren't, but I think most of us fans were. Now it's time to go to Sparty's house, and HOPEFULLY put Nebraska's name back on the map. Let's face it, next week is when we all find out if Nebraska is for real or not. It's going to be the longest week ever waiting for the game to start. As of right now, Nebraska is the only undefeated team in the B1G. Nebraska will tout the 8th ranked offense in the country and go up against Sparty's 11th ranked defense. In the coming week you'll hear a lot about Bo's teams getting demolished in big games like this. For me, I feel like there is something different about this Husker team. Maybe something special?
Written by: Cole Duncan
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