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Tag:Rex Burkhead
Posted on: October 29, 2011 3:57 pm
Edited on: October 29, 2011 4:45 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Nebraska 24, Michigan State 3

Posted by Adam Jacobi

NEBRASKA WON. The Nebraska defense was stout in victory on Saturday, holding No. 11 Michigan State to just 187 yards and 12 first downs in an easy 24-3 victory at Memorial Stadium. Kirk Cousins was especially ineffective for MSU, going 11/27 for 86 yards and one interception. Meanwhile, Rex Burkhead was an absolute monster for the Huskers, with 35 carries for 130 yards and two scores, and a 27-yard touchdown reception on top of it.

WHY NEBRASKA WON: It would be wrong to take anything away from Nebraska's effort on Saturday, which was both exemplary and the best of the Huskers' season. Having said that, there was only one team that came ready to play in this game. Nebraska routinely converted 3rd and long on what was supposed to be the best defense in the Big Ten, and the toll of those physical drives on the MSU defense became readily evident down the stretch.

WHEN NEBRASKA WON: The game was still well within reach for MSU with the game at 17-3 midway through the third quarter. Rex Burkhead had just left the field with an injury and Nebraska faced a 3rd and 11 near midfield. Unfortunately, Taylor Martinez found Kenny Bell for a 20-yard first down, Burkhead came back in the game on the next snap, and Martinez found Burkhead out of the backfield for an easy 27-yard touchdown on the next play. That pushed the score to 24-3, where it would remain for the rest of the game, and MSU never threatened to score after that.

WHAT NEBRASKA WON: Nebraska's not only tied for the division lead now, it's got a tiebreaker lead on the Spartans. Road games at Michigan and PSU also loom for the Huskers, but still: this was a huge win. The Husker defense, which had long been a weak spot of this season's team (even before Jared Crick was lost for the year), was dominant against the Spartan offense. For once, Nebraska looked like it belonged in the Top 15, and it's got its biggest win of the season to show for it.

WHAT MICHIGAN STATE LOST: Gone for Michigan State is its perfect conference record, which is the biggie here; the Spartans are now in a four-team tie with one loss in the Legends Division (pending Iowa's game at Minnesota). But this is the second time that Michigan State has been utterly stifled on offense this season, which is shocking given the amount of talent at every portion of the MSU offense. The Spartans are still in decent shape in the division race, but their offensive production on road games has been disturbingly absent. That can't continue. 

THAT WAS CRAZY: Kirk Cousins threw an interception. Just one. It should have been more, but on 3rd and goal near the end of the first half, an errant Cousins throw found its way into the waiting arms of Nebraska DB Daimion Stafford, who was off to the races for what was about to be a 95-yard pick-six. Unfortunately, Stafford was so eager to take the interception to the house that he never secured possession, and he dropped the ball to the field for a harmless incompletion. MSU took the field goal instead to make the score 10-3. So yes, a 24-3 loss is bad enough, but this could have easily been a 31-0 win for Nebraska.

Posted on: October 26, 2011 12:27 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Michigan State at Nebraska

Posted by Adam Jacobi

MICHIGAN STATE WILL WIN IF: The rushing game starts living up to its preseason billing. Coming into the season, the general consensus was that Wisconsin had the best stable of running backs, but Michigan State with Edwin Baker, Le'Veon Bell, and Larry Caper was a close second. Well, we're halfway into the season, and guess who's dead last in the Big Ten in rushing offense? Indeed: Sparty, at a paltry 138 yards a pop. Nebraska's defensive line is still reeling from the loss of Jared Crick, but it's generally good enough to keep blockers off Lavonte David so the dynamic linebacker can make plays. The challenge to MSU's offensive line is clear: blow open holes and let the running backs do their thing.

NEBRASKA WILL WIN IF: It avoids 3rd and long. Taylor Martinez's passing numbers as a whole aren't horrible this season; he's 67th nationwide in passing efficiency, and his interception rate of 3.93% is downright palatable. Still, Martinez struggles mightily when the opponent knows he needs to throw; he's been chided by announcers for his entire career for his unique mix of poor mechanics and bad read progressions. Getting Nebraska to 3rd and long is much easier said than done, however, with both Martinez and Rex Burkhead so adept at moving the chains on the ground. 

X-FACTOR: As opposed to most of the Big Ten's top games of the season, this matchup between No. 9 MSU and No. 13 Nebraska won't exactly be under the lights; the two teams are kicking off at 11:00 a.m. local time. Usually, the early games are reserved for non-conference cupcakes and basement dwellers. Will the two teams be able to put forth their best 60 minutes with such an early kickoff? Or will it be a 17-point game one way or the other halfway through the second quarter with an announcer snarkily wondering whether the losing team left its effort on the bus?
Posted on: October 9, 2011 5:00 am
 

Big Ten Winners and Losers: Week 6



Posted by Adam Jacobi


A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.

WINNER: Nebraska's season

Ignore the fact that 4-2, all things considered, isn't a terrible record; for No. 14 Nebraska, dropping the Ohio State game would have been a backbreaker for a season that started with realistic Rose Bowl aspirations -- especially with OSU looking like an unusually easy victory coming into Saturday. Instead, the Buckeyes opened up a 27-6 lead and seemed to be putting the final nail in the coffin of Nebraska's reputation as a Big Ten contender before the Huskers pulled off their largest comeback in program history on the back of Rex Burkhead (pictured above, finding plenty of comfort in the middle of OSU's rush defense). Now the Huskers are 5-1, and more importantly, only have one loss on their Big Ten slate instead of starting out 0-2. This season still might not end up in the Rose Bowl -- in fact it probably won't -- but sheerly by dodging the bullet on Saturday, Nebraska was a big, big winner.

LOSER: Joe Bauserman, yet again

It's not entirely fair to pin Ohio State's collapse on Joe Bauserman; the backup QB came into the game in the second half cold, and Nebraska had already begun its fight back at that point. And yet, the score was 27-13 OSU when Bauserman came in for an injured Braxton Miller on a 3rd and 8, and the score was 34-27 Nebraska by the time Bauserman put the finishing touches on his 1-10, 17-yard, 1 INT magnum opus. In the last four weeks -- the only games in which OSU has faced BCS conference competition this season -- Bauserman's stats are a terrifying 12-40, 144 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. That's a 63.49 passer rating, which is reprehensible. Oh, and not only is Bauserman going to play for as long as Braxton Miller's hurt, he's also the quarterback Luke Fickell tabbed to start the season for the Buckeyes. Enjoy, OSU!

WINNER: Do-everything QBs in the Big Ten

Nathan Scheelhaase, Taylor Martinez, and Denard Robinson may all be vying for the Second Team All-Big Ten role behind Wisconsin dreamboat Russell Wilson, but all three QBs put on an absolute show on Saturday. Scheelhaase had 210 yards passing, 88 yards rushing, and 4 combined TDs for Illinois in a win at Indiana. Martinez had his best passing performance of the year against a tough Ohio State defense, going 16-22 for 192 yards passing and rushing for 102 more yards; he accounted for three of Nebraska's four TDs. Robinson's numbers were the gaudiest: 325 yards passing, 117 yards on 25 rushes, and four total TDs in Michigan's 42-24 win over Northwestern. Even Braxton Miller had 95 yards passing and 91 yards rushing before he was forced to leave the game. Conference play will sort out this hierarchy, but it's fantastic to see such a breadth of dynamic talent at QB.

LOSER: Timid 4th down playcallers

Indiana kicked a field goal on 4th and goal from the 3 with a 4-point deficit. Iowa punted from Penn State's 33-yard line down 6-3. Ohio State punted from Nebraska's 32-yard line with a late 27-20 lead. What do all these decisions have in common? They were all unnecessarily conservative, and they all backfired. Indiana immediately gave up a touchdown drive, Iowa's punt led to a 90-yard Penn State drive that mercifully ended in an end zone interception (but still wore down the Iowa defense), and Ohio State would never see its lead again after Nebraska responded with a touchdown drive. Yes, the field position is important, but the points battle is the real one that matters, and all three of these teams did themselves a disservice by not even attempting to maximize their opportunities.

WINNER: Penn State's defense

In a stat that will undoubtedly become a trivial relic by the end of the season, Iowa came into this week's game against Penn State with the Big Ten's most prolific passing attack, averaging 281 yards a game under QB James Vandenberg. Penn State bottled that attack up beautifully, limiting Vandenberg to 169 yards on 17/34 passing with two interceptions and a lost fumble on a sack. More importantly, the Nittany Lions allowed only a field goal in a 13-3 victory. delighting a partisan PSU crowd that was hungry for a Penn State win over the nemesis Hawkeyes.

LOSER: Rob Bolden Fan Club president Joe Paterno

There is truly no reason for Rob Bolden to be starting anymore, yet start he does, week in and week out. Bolden's passer efficiency is out of the NCAA's top 100; Matt McGloin's was 42nd nationwide coming into the game. McGloin was far better against Iowa, hitting pass after pass in tight windows while Bolden's best gains came on tipped balls -- his biggest completion ricocheted off of an unsuspecting referee's leg, for crying out loud. Nobody at Penn State outside of the coaching staff knows why Bolden plays so much, yet he does, and he's probably going to ride his 3/7, 31 yard performance to another starting week unless Joe Paterno puts an end to this farce of a quarterback battle and just gives the job to McGloin already.

WINNER: Ron Zook's mojo

Imagine, if you will: Team X is ranked and undefeated, and playing at outmatched-but-feisty Team Y. Team Y takes the opening kick to the house, then makes a stop and turns it into a field goal for a 10-0 lead. At this point, one would assume that if Team X had a good coach, he would have his charges weather this storm and not panic, and if Team X's coach was a raving lunatic, then this was an upset in the making. Well, Team X is obviously Illinois, Team Y is obviously Indiana, the Team X head coach is obviously Ron Zook, and his team responded admirably to the adversity by turning the game into a 41-20 rout. Illinois is now 6-0. It could be 9-0 heading into the Michigan game. Ron Zook is doing all this. This is the reality you must accept.

LOSER: Whoever had to watch Minnesota-Purdue

One Husker blogger tabbed this matchup "the game that fun forgot" on Saturday morning, and while that's not a fair assessment of a game that ends up featuing 62 points scored, it's not quite that far off from this game either. Now. Purdue is not good at football. Not even in a young and sneaky and what if they put it all together sense. Just not good. Purdue also opened up a 45-3 lead on Minnesota en route to a 45-17 win, and we're left to wonder just what level of football the Gophers actually belong in (hint: not FBS!). And yet, there were still only 589 total yards combined in this game; even the PSU-Iowa eye-clawer, by comparison, had 648 total yards from scrimmage. Purdue and Minnesota can't even put on a blowout correctly! Just a mess all the way through here, and there are probably plenty more such messes that await fans of both these teams this season.
Posted on: October 9, 2011 1:17 am
 

QUICK HITS: Nebraska 34, Ohio State 27

Posted by Adam Jacobi

NEBRASKA WON. In the biggest comeback in program history, No. 14 Nebraska stormed back from a 27-6 deficit to stun Ohio State, 34-27, in front of a packed Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. The man of the match for the Huskers was oft-maligned QB Taylor Martinez, who overcame a sluggish start to finish with 16/22 passing for 191 yards and two passing touchdowns. Martinez also shined in the ground game, sparking the rally with an 18-yard touchdown and finishing with 102 yards on 17 carries.

WHY NEBRASKA WON: In the second half, Nebraska gave Ohio State a heavy dose of Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead, and the Buckeye defense basically caved lated under that relentless rushing attack. Both Martinez and Burkhead finished over 100 yards rushing, and Nebraska outgained OSU 337 yards to 112 in the second half. It's nearly impossible to protect a lead by getting pummeled like that in yardage, and OSU just found that out the hard way this week.

WHEN NEBRASKA WON: In a one-possession game, the win's not secure until there are all zeroes on the clock (or at least the team's in victory formation), but there were really two key plays here that swung the game for Nebraska. The first big play was Lavonte David essentially stealing the ball from Braxton Miller's grasp deep in Buckeye territory when the game was 27-6 midway through the third quarter. Nebraska scored two plays later to get the game within 27-13, and the swing woke up a Husker crowd that had been silent for most of the game.

The second big play happened on Ohio State's next possession, as Miller appeared to twist his ankle while on a rollout. Miller would not return to the game, even after taping his ankle and trying to test it on the sideline, and Joe Bauserman was utterly horrific in relief. Bauerman finished the day 1-10 for 13 yards, and the one long pass he actually kept in the field of play (instead of throwing it into the seats, which happened several times) was intercepted. Nebraska would turn that pick around into the game-winning touchdown drive, and OSU never threatened again. 

WHAT NEBRASKA WON: This was an inestimably important victory; Nebraska had looked underwhelming all year long, and when it found itself down three scores to Ohio State, it was easy to wonder if perhaps this wasn't going to be the Huskers' year -- or if Taylor Martinez was even the best option at quarterback. Safe to say, all is well now in Lincoln, at least for the next week or so. At the very least, the season no longer threatens to spiral out of control, and now that the Huskers know they've got a comeback in them, they'll be even tougher for the rest of the Big Ten to handle for 60 minutes at a time.

WHAT OHIO STATE LOST: If Braxton Miller's ankle keeps him out for an extended amount of time, that's awful news for the Buckeyes; Miller was hands-down the better quarterback on Saturday, and Joe Bauserman looked as bad as he's ever been. More than that, though, Ohio State had an opportunity to get its Big Ten season back on track and even keep its division title hopes alive; with this loss pushing the Buckeyes to 0-2 in conference play, that's significantly less likely. There'll need to be some soul-searching on the defensive side of the ball too, as the Buckeye D wilted after Nebraska started to turn things around. That's wildly uncharacteristic for a defense in Columbus, and the OSU coaches will undoubtedly let their players know that. 

THAT WAS CRAZY: At the time of Braxton Miller's injury, Ohio State had run 41 plays: 33 rushes and eight passes. It had a 27-13 lead. So with Joe Bauserman coming in cold and a 14-point lead to protect, did OSU stick with a rushing game that was busy netting six yards a carry? No, of course not; Bauserman threw on 10 of his 18 snaps (and was sacked on an 11th), and his interception came on a 2nd and 6 after Carlos Hyde (who finished with 104 yards on only 13 carries) had gained 16 yards on his last two carries. What Bauserman was doing throwing a deep pass in that scenario is baffling.

Posted on: October 3, 2011 6:20 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 2:48 am
 

Big Ten poll reactions, Week 5

Posted by Adam Jacobi

This week's polls have been released. Here's how the Big Ten fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.

(AP/Coaches)

4/5. Wisconsin

Wisconsin
jumped back up in the ratings after that legalized manslaughter it put on Nebraska, although the Badgers are still going to need to hope a couple teams lose in front of them before they can start even thinking about a championship. This is about where Wisconsin should be, since they're on a top tier with LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma, Boise State, Stanford, and probably Oklahoma State. The level of quality drops down pretty substantially after those seven, and with the exception of Stanford, all seven have a marquee victory that helps differentiate them from the rest of the pack. It's a shame that none of this top tier is remaining on Wisconsin's schedule, but the Badgers will likely make do with the rest of the Big Ten slate this year.

12/11. Michigan 

Apparently, voters have just been waiting for a reason to hail, hail to Michigan, because this is a meteoric rise in the polls; Michigan was 10 spots lower in both polls two weeks ago, and those two weeks have seen victories against San Diego State and Minnesota. SDSU isn't bad, but that's a game that even a hypothetical 25th-ranked team ought to win at least 90% of the time -- and don't get me started on what a horror show the Gophers are this year. Two straight road contests against Northwestern and Michigan State loom for the Wolverines. If they win both, they'll deserve a ranking this high. If not, well, they won't be rated this high anymore so the problem'll just take care of itself in pretty short order.

14/15. Nebraska

Not nearly low enough. I had them at 16th and anticipated a 10-13 point loss at Wisconsin -- anything closer than that, and I was willing to move Nebraska up, anything worse and the Huskers go down. They're now 21st on my list. The defense is a mess in pass coverage, Taylor Martinez is probably regressing in terms of his football IQ, and there's really only so much Rex Burkhead (whom I have totally come around on this year) can do. At least Ohio State comes to Lincoln this week, though. There's nothing a struggling defense could use more than an opposing offense that can't throw, and boy howdy, OSU cannot throw. If Nebraska wants to act like it deserves its ranking for once, this week is a good time to do it.

19/16. Illinois

It seems like a terrifying proposition to depend on Ron Zook-led teams to produce week after week, which is what being ranked this high entails -- especially this early in the season. But here we are, with Illinois at 5-0 and riding a three-game streak of three-point victories against legitimate competition. Even more terrifying: with Week 7 opponent Ohio State looking outright toothless, Illinois could easily be 8-0 headed into a road date at Penn State on October 29. Illinois. 8-0. It could happen. Strange times we live in.

NR/20. Michigan State

There's a good reason why Michigan State is 20th in the coaches poll and unranked in the AP version: the coaches poll is a joke. Seriously, they barely watch any games, especially considering how quickly their ballots need to be turned around for tabulation. Why are we including their polls in the BCS system again?

Also receiving votes:

Michigan State (154 AP votes), Penn State (9 AP votes, 54 coaches votes), Iowa (5 coaches votes), Ohio State (1 coaches vote)

I don't usually editorialize on the "also receiving votes" portion, but I'd love to know who gave Ohio State a vote so we could demand his immediate ouster from the voting. Sincerely, someone who has actually watched Ohio State play this year.
Posted on: October 2, 2011 12:16 am
Edited on: October 2, 2011 12:14 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Wisconsin 48, Nebraska 17



Posted by Adam Jacobi

WISCONSIN WON. What looked like a clash of the titans quickly turned into a blowout, as No. 7 Wisconsin welcomed No. 8 Nebraska to the Big Ten with a 48-17 whipping. Russell Wilson was lethal leading the Wisconsin attack with 255 yards and two touchdowns on 14-20 passing, while adding six rushes for 32 yards and another score. Rex Burkhead was valiant in defeat for Nebraska, leading the Huskers in rushing with 18 carries for 96 yards and a score, but it was an exercise in futility since Wisconsin could do whatever it wanted on offense.

WHY WISCONSIN WON: It's simple why Wisconsin won: the Badgers have a great quarterback, and the Huskers plainly don't. Russell Wilson rejuvenated his Heisman campaign with a truly stellar showing today, while Taylor Martinez put together a 12-play stretch that wrecked Nebraska's chances at keeping this game competitive; in those 12 plays, Martinez threw three interceptions, and Wisconsin converted all three into sustained touchdown drives. Just like last year, when Wisconsin was on, it was unstoppable -- and it spent a whole lot of time being "on" tonight. And oh yes, Montee Ball's line tonight: 30 rushes, 151 yards, four touchdowns. The chains just about never stopped moving for the Badgers.

WHEN WISCONSIN WON: This actually looked like a balanced contest for most of the first half; Wisconsin was the first team to commit a turnover after Jared Abbrederis fumbled at the end of a punt return, and Nebraska held leads at 7-0 and 14-7. Taylor Martinez began throwing his interceptions at that point, though, and when Martinez threw his third pick of the evening early in the third quarter, Wisconsin responded with a 47-yard touchdown drive (capped by a Russell Wilson 10-yard score on a bootleg) that put the score at 34-14 and served notice that there would be no comeback.

WHAT WISCONSIN WON: Just about the only valid criticism of Wisconsin's season to this point had been the fact that the Badgers' schedule was pure cake, especially compared to the six teams ranked ahead of the Badgers at this point in the season. So while it's now obvious that Nebraska is simply not a great team, Wisconsin still has a Top 10 win on its resume now, and it's getting awfully hard to find anything wrong with this team anymore. The rushing, the passing, and the defense were all working, and as a whole Wisconsin looked like the kind of team that can run the table this year. Who's going to stop them if Nebraska can't even come close?

WHAT NEBRASKA LOST: This was a tough, tough way for Nebraska to begin its Big Ten Era; Wisconsin manhandled the Huskers in the trenches on both sides of the ball, and Taylor Martinez looked maddeningly inconsistent yet again. Now, Nebraska's had problems with its defensive intensity and passing game all season long, but up to this point, it had stayed undefeated, and let's face it: there are some things you can look past after a win that aren't so easily ignored with a 31-point loss on the books. Look for a lot of reevaluation in Lincoln as the team licks its wounds and prepares for Ohio State.

THAT WAS CRAZY: With Wisconsin leading 41-14 in the second half and generally having its way with the Nebraska defense, the Wisconsin student section couldn't resist the opportunity to mark the occasion. And lo, up went a "BIG TEN FOOT-BALL (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap)" chant that the rest of the stadium couldn't help but join. Now, Nebraska isn't going to absorb 31-point losses every week in this new conference, but it's also not going to have many weeks of easy victories from here on out, either.

Posted on: September 24, 2011 11:23 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 9 Nebraska 38, Wyoming 14

Posted by Adam Jacobi

NEBRASKA WON. Nebraska halfback Rex Burkhead and the rest of the Husker offense ran wild against a porous Wyoming D, and Big Red came away with a relatively stress-free 38-14 win in Laramie.

WHY NEBRASKA WON: There's no question that Nebraska is far and away more talented than Wyoming, and that was made evident early and often in this game. Wyoming's true freshman QB Brett Smith will probably be a productive player down the road, but his inexperience showed in this contest as Wyoming was forced to punt on its first five possessions. Considering Nebraska was missing All-American DT Jared Crick to injury, the effort and production were commendable up front for the Husker defense. Meanwhile, on offense, Nebraska rushed for 333 yards and four of its five touchdowns on 49 carries.

WHEN NEBRASKA WON: Midway through the third quarter with Nebraska up 24-7 when Ameer Abdullah fumbled on a 3rd down reception near midfield. Wyoming took advantage and drove into Nebraska's red zone, but a 32-yard field goal that could have made it a 2-possession game was missed, and Nebraska uncorked an 80-yard touchdown drive in response. 31-7, ballgame. 

WHAT NEBRASKA WON: The message to the rest of the Big Ten is clear: Nebraska's here to rush the ball with authority, and the Huskers did exactly that on Saturday with 6.8 yards per carry and a 7-13 3rd down conversion rate. And yet, this was still a 14-7 game at halftime, making Nebraska 4-for-4 on slow starts this year. That's concerning as the team heads into Big Ten play against competition that isn't going to allow the Huskers to get away with taking a couple quarters off very often.

WHAT WYOMING LOST: Thinking about playing a heavy favorite in terms of "losing" things is a little counterintuitive, as really, Wyoming had nothing to lose except for health. Being that the Cowboys stayed pretty much injury-free on Saturday, this is a rather productive loss to take. Wyoming players shouldn't be happy or anything, but this isn't going to wreck the Cowboys' season by any stretch. They hosted a big-time program and gave it 60 minutes of solid effort. Not bad.

THAT WAS CRAZY: In the fourth quarter, on a 3rd and 6 at Nebraska's 10-yard line, Brett Smith threw a fade route to wideout Josh Doctson, who stretched to make the catch on the sideline in the end zone. The play was ruled incomplete, and the call stood on the field.

That's what officially happened.

What actually happened is Doctson made an absolutely spectacular catch that should have been ruled a touchdown -- and headlined every highlight reel of the weekend. Doctson barely dragged his feet while making the diving, over-the-shoulder catch, but the officials didn't see enough to overturn the incomplete ruling, and that's a shame. It's also a moot point, because Smith threw an easy touchdown to Robert Herron on the very next snap, but Doctson was robbed here.

Posted on: September 17, 2011 8:01 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Nebraska 51, Washington 38

Posted by Adam Jacobi

NEBRASKA WON: The 11th ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers turned on the jets on offense early and often against Washington, and the end result was a 51-38 victory in front of its home crowd. QB Taylor Martinez hooked up with Kenny Bell on a 50-yard completion (seen at right) on the game's first play from scrimmage, then found Tyler Legate on the next play for a 3-yard touchdown, 34 seconds into the game.

WHY NEBRASKA WON: Washington partisans would loudly proclaim "BECAUSE OF THE REFEREES" to answer that question, and they might have a point (more on this later). The truth is, though, Nebraska won because it was able to grind out over 300 yards on the ground in 55 carries, gaining positive yardage on 52 of those 55 attempts and keeping the sticks moving at ease.

WHEN NEBRASKA WON: It looked like the game was safely in hand when Nebraska opened up the fourth quarter scoring with a 6-yard score by Aaron Green, but it wasn't until a Washington onside kick attempt failed and Nebraska responded with a five-run, 57-yard touchdown drive to make it 51-31 that the game was safely in hand for the Cornhuskers. 

WHAT NEBRASKA WON: For Cornhusker fans, this script of struggling with an opponent for most of the first half -- if not longer -- must be getting tiresome, and this is the third straight week where the Huskers have not lived up to their lofty ranking. Still, wins are wins, and wins over teams with the cachet of Washington and Fresno State are likely more helpful for the Huskers' development through the season than if they'd just taken a stroll through Cupcake Alley for all three games thus far (next week's opponent is, um, Wyoming, but that game's at least on the road).

WHAT WASHINGTON LOST: Washington fans will rue the litany of penalties that plagued its special teams efforts, and that inarguably altered the course of today's game. All in all, Washington was called for three kick catch interference penalties -- two on punts -- and Nebraska took advantage of short fields on the three resultant possessions for a total of 17 points. In fact, Washington could have led at the half, as the Huskies punted late in the first half, then recovered the loose ball when the punt glanced off the returner's leg. Improbably, the referees called a phantom interference on the play, and Nebraska used the rest of the half to put together a drive for a field goal. The Huskers would not relinquish the lead.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Not all of Washington's special teams woes came via the penalty. After Rex Burkhead scored on a one-yard dive early in the third quarter, Washington KR Bishop Sankey muffed the return on what should have been a simple touchback, and Sankey and fellow returner Kevin Smith bungled the recovery until Nebraska came up with the ball at the 1. Next snap: Rex Burkhead, one-yard dive, touchdown -- his second in nine seconds. 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com