September 21, 2014

Nebraska stays unbeaten with 41-31 win over Miami

When in doubt, give the ball to Ameer Abdullah.

That was the philosophy for 22nd-ranked Nebraska on Saturday night, as the senior Heisman trophy candidate carried 35 times for 229  yards and two touchdowns in addition to a receiving touchdown to help the Huskers dispatch Miami 41-31 at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. The win moves the  Huskers to 4-0 on the season, marking the third time under Bo Pelini that Nebraska has finished the non-conference portion of their season unscathed. Another stellar performance from Abdullah didn’t surprise Pelini at all.

“Number eight showed just how special he is tonight. He ran like a man possessed,” Pelini said.

Nebraska tries to keep Miami out of the end zone in the final moments of the Huskers' 41-31 victory

Nebraska tries to keep Miami out of the end zone in the final moments of the Huskers’ 41-31 victory

Abdullah also ran like a man who’ll go down as one of the all-time Husker greats. With his 229 yards rushing, Abdullah moved into third place among the all-time Nebraska rushing yardage leaders with 3,602 yards, passing Roy Helu Jr. and Eric Crouch. Next up is Ahman Green with 3,880 yards and then Mike Rozier, who tops the list with 4,780 yards. Abdullah also became the all-time leader in all-purpose yards at Nebraska with 5,762, passing the great Johnny Rodgers with a total of 313 on the night.

“We just trust physicality all week,” Abdullah said. “We come off physical every play. Hit ‘em in the mouth, hit ‘em in the mouth…I feel like we had the upper hand on those guys.”

After the Huskers took a 17-14 lead into halftime, Nebraska began the second half with an 11-play, 75 yard drive that was capped off by Abdullah’s 6-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 24-14. Miami would answer however, as the Hurricanes got a 9-yard touchdown pass from Brad Kaaya to Malcolm Lewis. After Tommy Armstrong was intercepted by Miami’s Tracy Howard, the Hurricanes were on the move.

Running back Ameer Abdullah leaves the field after Nebraska's 41-31 win over Miami. Abdullah had 35 carries for 229 yards and three total touchdowns

Running back Ameer Abdullah leaves the field after Nebraska’s 41-31 win over Miami. Abdullah had 35 carries for 229 yards and three total touchdowns

Running back Duke Johnson appeared to have inched forward for a first down just inside Nebraska territory with just over two minutes to play in the third quarter. But momentum shifted big time toward Nebraska as Trevor Roach stripped the ball free from Johnson, Josh Mitchell recovered and scooted 57 yards for a momentum-swinging score that the Hurricanes never recovered from. Miami head coach Al Golden certainly thought his team had everything going in its favor before Johnson’s fumble.

“I felt that we were really moving the ball well there, obviously that was a tough one,” Golden said. “Thought we had a chance to go up by four, if not tie it. Instead, we ended up going down by 10.”

“We just had too many turnovers to overcome on the road against a good team.”

Johnson’s fumble overshadowed what was a decent night from the senior, who had 18 carries for 93 yards and a touchdown, in addition to five catches for 84 yards.

“I needed to get in the end zone, but I need to protect the ball when I’m going down. That was my bad,” Johnson said.

“That play changed the game in a big way.”

The fumble, coupled with two interceptions from Kaaya led to 14 Nebraska points. Linebacker David Santos got the ball rolling for the Huskers with an interception in the first quarter with the Hurricanes threatening to retake the lead.

“We talked about making more turnovers. It was a big plan this week,” Santos said. “We really hadn’t had any earlier this season so our objective was to go out, make the play and make the turnovers.”

“That forced fumble couldn’t have come at a better time. It was all a big momentum swing for us.”

The game got a bit chippy, especially in the second half, after Nebraska had extended its lead after Mitchell’s fumble return. There were numerous personal fouls called on both teams, but two in particular hurt Miami after Joshua Kalu intercepted a Kaaya pass in the fourth quarter. Miami was called for two personal foul penalties after the play had finished, giving the Huskers 30 free yards that Nebraska didn’t let go to waste, with Abdullah scoring on a 10-yard touchdown run to put the game on ice with 4:13 to play.

Pelini had his thoughts about the increased hostilities in the second half, but wouldn’t elaborate much.

“I thought it got a little out of control. I thought it could have been managed better,” Pelini said. “At the end of the day, there’s going to be some of that. Two teams playing hard and going after each other.”

Nebraska controlled the line of scrimmage, rushing for 343 yards as a team while allowing only 76 yards by Miami. Although Kaaya finished 28-of-42 for 359 yards and three touchdowns, the two interceptions turned out to be game changers for a defense that had only forced one turnover this season entering Saturday’s game.

Armstrong was efficient for the most part, completing 9-of-13 attempts for 113 yards and two touchdowns, although he did have an interception and one lost fumble. Overall, Armstrong liked how the offense attacked Miami’s defense, which was ranked 8th nationally before Saturday’s game.

“We just ran our offense,” Armstrong said. We go into every week the same way. We run offense based on whatever they give us.”

The win keeps Nebraska unbeaten at 4-0 for the third time since Bo Pelini took over as head coach in 2008. Next up for the Huskers is another night game against Illinois next week in Lincoln, kicking off at 8 p.m. on Saturday. Abdullah says their season is just beginning.

“We’re actually 0-0 right now because it’s a new schedule every time we play a game. We have a long journey ahead of us,” Abdullah noted.

“We can enjoy it tonight, but tomorrow we take the film with a grain of salt and get back to it.”

Nebraska ready to rekindle an old football rivalry tonight

The Nebraska football team is ready for their Saturday night showdown with the Miami Hurricanes. Head Coach Bo Pelini said the team had a good week of preparation.

“I think our guys are recovered from the weekend—from the travel and all that,” Pelini said. “I think we have had good tempo, and I think we have had a good week of preparation. We need to finish it up tomorrow and get ready to go.”

The Huskers are a little thing at wide receiver. Burtch will miss the remainder of the season due to a knee injury. Burtch, a Elmwood-Murdock product, recorded 12 receptions for 147 yards last season, including three touchdowns. The offense will have to rely on guys like sophomore walk-on Lane Hovey of Adel, Iowa to step in and fill some of the void.

Defensively, John Papuchis will have a hard time trying to stop the many skill players Miami brings.

“They have a lot of weapons at every skilled position, they have guys that can take it to the house every time they touch the ball,” Papuchis said. “They are good upfront, so it is going to be a challenge, it is the best offense we have played this season.”

Miami will start a true freshman at quarterback. Brad Kaaya.  He’s a native of West Hills, Calif., and a graduate of Chaminade High, where he was a teammate of current Husker sophomore running back Terrell Newby.

“They are athletic enough at every skill position that if you miss a tackle it could turn into a touchdown,” Papuchis said. “They have great speed at wideout, so I am concerned with balls being thrown over our head, but our guys are aware of it and we have to tackle well to limit explosive plays.”

First things you didn’t know about Miami:

1 Miami’s defense is now ranked eighth-best nationally, allowing 259.7 yards per game.
2 Miami is one of seven teams in the nation so far to have at least five different players recover a fumble.
3 Duke Johnson surpassed Willis McGahee for eighth all-time in program history with his 90 rushing yards against A-State
4 Phillip Dorsett has caught two TD passes in consecutive weeks, and has already tied his career high with four in 2014.
5 Miami is tops in the ACC and No. 6 nationally in net punting, with 45.3 yards per kick.

Kickoff between the two national powers will be nationally televised on ESPN2 at 7pm (CT).

Nebraska kicker injured in a motorcycle accident

Mauro Bondi.  Photo: Scott Bruhn/NU Media Relations

Mauro Bondi. Photo: Scott Bruhn/NU Media Relations

21-year old Mauro Bondi, a kicker for the Nebraska football team, suffered a broken collarbone after he crashed his motorcycle Thursday night in Lincoln.

Lincoln police report that around 6:30 p.m., Bondi was traveling west on Alvo Road when he couldn’t handle a turn.  Bondi’s motorcycle hit a curb and then went off the road.  A person in another vehicle stopped and took Bondi back to his apartment.  He later went to the hospital and was treated for his injury.

Bondi was wearing a helmet and alcohol was not involved.  Bondi was cited for negligent driving and riding without a motorcycle license.

Bondi is a junior from Boca Raton, FL.  Nebraska plays Miami on Saturday.





Huskers ready for an electric atmosphere when they host Miami (AUDIO)

The Huskers will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 1994 National Championship Team prior to Saturday night’s game against Miami, which is fitting. Players like sophomore defensive tackle Vincent Valentine is expected the stadium to be jumpin’.  Meanwhile sophomore offensive lineman Alex Lewis knows the historical meaning behind playing this game.

Other game notes:

NU long snapper Paul Kelly will not suit up for Nebraska. Kelly came to Lincoln a week into the season to provide another able hand at the position after the injury to Gabe Miller. Kelly, a senior, came to Nebraska after previously snapping at Miami. The two teams reached an agreement.

The Huskers took another injury hit to wide receiver Sam Burtch.  He’s out for the season with a torn ACL.  NU is also without Brandon Reilly, who will be out this week with a hamstring injury and Nebraska lost senior Jamal Turner to a torn Achilles tendon in Week 2.

If NU wants to rattle Miami’s freshman QB, they need to take away his run game (AUDIO)

Miami will start a true freshman at quarterback Brad Kaaya and so far the reviews on him have all been positive. Husker defensive coordinator John Papuchis talks about how the kid doesn’t get rattled.  However, 92,000 fans in Memorial Stadium on Saturday may change that. Defensive end Randy Gregory thinks so.

The Canes averaging 247 passing yards per game and has benefitted from Miami’s junior running back Duke Johnson.  Johnson is averaging 6.7-yards-per-carry and if Nebraska has to deal with short yardage situations, it will pose a problem.  That’s how Nebraska can rattle the freshman quarterback…take away his run game.  Put Kaaya in 2nd and 8, 3rd and 7 situations and see how he handles the pass rush and loud crowd.