November 27, 2014

To wear or not to wear (Blackshirts). That is the question (AUDIO)

NU receiver Kenny Bell (photo/Scott Bruhns, NU)

NU receiver Kenny Bell (photo/Scott Bruhns, NU)

Nebraska senior wide receiver Kenny Bell loves Husker nation, but as far as some of the negative talk, especially following the loss to Wisconsin, he’s shut it out.  He’s focusing in on his final game this Saturday at Memorial Stadium, when the Huskers host Minnesota.  Bell said he’s looking forward to playing this home game with his teammates, something he’ll always remember.

Plus, we’ll hear from Sean Callahan.  Some of the defense have left their Blackshirts hanging in their lockers.

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Petteway, Shields help Huskers to easy win over Central Arkansas

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Despite a slow start, Terran Petteway and Nebraska turned up their defensive pressure and hit more shots after halftime against road-weary Central Arkansas en route to their second win of the young season.

The pre-season All-Big Ten selection Petteway scored 23 points while Shavon Shields added 16 points and 11 rebounds as Nebraska moved to 2-0 with an 82-56 win on Tuesday night at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln. The Huskers led 43-34 at halftime after a foul-filled first half, but hit 64 percent of their shots in the second half to take control against the Bears, who fell to 0-3 with the loss.

“We were not all locked in at the same time tonight and had some real bone-head plays. But we locked in and had a great second half defensively,” head coach Tim Miles said. “I think that our six guys that we have from last year have improved. They have all gotten better.”

In addition to Petteway and Shields, Walter Pitchford, Tai Webster, Benny Parker, and David Rivers round out the six that Miles spoke of that once again rounded out most of Nebraska’s rotation and minutes against the Bears. Webster finished with 13 points and four steals, while Rivers was perfect from the floor and free throw line for a second straight game, making both of his field goal attempts and finishing 4-of-4 from the free throw line, good enough for eight points and five rebounds.

Miles had high praise for the reserve guard Parker once again, who finished with eight points and made his first three pointer in nearly two years of game play.

“It does seem like when Benny comes in, things pop in a hurry,” Miles said of the junior guard.

Nebraska was able to outrebound Central Arkansas 40-35 after being beaten on the glass by Northern Kentucky in their season opening 80-61 win on Sunday night.

“We’re awful on the glass and we need to get a lot better,” Miles said. “Saturday (against Rhode Island) is of great concern for me, but we’ll get better.

Shields, who led the Huskers with 11 rebounds, agreed with Miles’ assessment that the team’s rebounding needs to improve in a hurry.

“We were better than we were two nights ago, but we have a lot of tough competition coming up,” Shields said. “We have to get better at that.”

Petteway felt the team overcame another slow start and eventually settled into a groove on offense, after a choppy first half that saw the Huskers attempt 25 free throws in the opening 20 minutes after being put into the bonus situation with barely five minutes played.

“We were just trying to get to the rim as much as possible. Plus they were going on in on the screen, so that kind of opened up the lane for us. We were able to drive to the basket and get easy shots.”

The Bears were led by Jake Zuilhof, who finished with 12 points and 6 rebounds, while Albert Christensson scored 11 points and Jordan Howard pitched in 10 despite 2-of-11 shooting from the floor. Central Arkansas shot just 32.8% from the floor for the game and committed 18 turnovers in the loss.

Nebraska’s 82 point effort gives the Huskers back-to-back 80-point games for the first time in nearly a year, when they put up consecutive 80-point games against South Carolina State and Massachusetts last November.

The Huskers face a tougher test this Saturday when they play at Rhode Island. Tip off against the Rams is set for 6 p.m. on Saturday night in Kingston, RI.

First look at Minnesota…watch the Gophers tight end (AUDIO)

MLet’s take our first look at the Minnesota Golden Gophers and one of their big offensive weapons. It’s tight end Maxx Williams. He was named one of eight semifinalists for the John Mackey Award, presented annually to the nation’s top tight end. Williams, a redshirt sophomore, leads Minnesota in receptions (25), receiving yards (373), receiving touchdowns (seven) and receiving yards per game (41.4). He accounts for 27.7 percent of the Golden Gophers’ receiving yards, 63.6 percent of their receiving touchdowns and 17.9 percent of their overall touchdowns. Williams leads all Big Ten players listed as tight ends in receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and receiving yards per game.

In their 31-24 loss at home against Ohio State, Gopher quarterback Mitch Leidner completed only seven passes in 20 attempts. Three of those went to Williams for 47 yards including a 36 yard completion. They’re a run heavy team, but Williams is Leidner’s “go to” guy.

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Gordon’s record day buries Nebraska

Nebraska held Melvin Gordon mostly in check for one quarter. It was the other two quarters that did in the 16th-ranked Huskers as Gordon and the Badgers ran absolutely wild and into the NCAA record books.

Gordon’s 408 rushing yards eclipsed the previous NCAA record of 406 rushing yards by Texas Christian’s LaDanian Tomlinson as the Heisman trophy candidate scored four touchdowns to help 20th-ranked Wisconsin score a decisive 59-24 win over Nebraska in Madison. Two years after rushing for over 200 yards in Wisconsin’s Big Ten championship game victory over the Huskers in Indianapolis, Gordon was even more impressive as the Blackshirts had no answer. In the 2012 game, Wisconsin rushed for 539 yards, while the 2014 edition saw the Badgers roll up 581 yards rushing. It was a two quarter stretch that saw the Badgers take firm control of the Big Ten west division and send the Huskers searching for answers.

Nebraska scored first, with Drew Brown’s 32-yard field goal getting the Huskers a 3-0 lead after the Huskers recovered a Kenzel Doe fumble deep in Badger territory. Kenny Bell’s 12-yard touchdown catch extended the lead to 10-0 later in the first quarter, with a Wisconsin field goal cutting the deficit to seven at 10-3. Armstrong’s 5-yard touchdown run put Nebraska ahead 17-3 with 14:12 remaining in the second quarter, with the rest of the game an unstoppable Wisconsin avalanche led by Gordon.

Gordon and the Badgers responded in a big way, as the senior ran 62 yards for a touchdown on the following possession to cut the lead in half at 17-10. Gordon however, fumbled on the next Badgers possession and Nebraska recovered, but would turn it right back to Wisconsin on a Terrell Newby fumble and the rest was history as Corey Clement tied the game at 17-17 on a 17-yard touchdown run at the 7:21 mark. Joel Stave found tight end Sam Arneson for a 5-yard touchdown pass with 3:31 left before halftime and gave the Badgers a 24-17 lead which they never relinquished.

Coming out of halftime, Nebraska got the kickoff and was unable to score. The Blackshirts did stop the Badgers, but Ameer Abdullah’s fumble was recovered by Wisconsin at the Badgers 42-yard line on the next drive and Wisconsin never looked back as Gordon’s 1-yard touchdown run made it 31-17. Gordon would add a 6-yard score and a 26-yard rushing touchdown later in the quarter in addition to an 11-yard touchdown run by quarterback Tanner McEvoy to give the Badgers an insurmountable 52-17 lead after three quarters. The 26-yard run to close the quarter by Gordon gave him 408 rushing yards and the NCAA record before the final quarter began.

In mop up time in the fourth quarter, Dare Ogunbowale added an 8-yard touchdown run for Wisconsin and Newby scored on a 2-yard run to provide for the final points and the 59-24 score line. In a game that featured 806 yards of total offense, Gordon accounted for 408 of them and ended the game with 1,909 yards rushing in just 10 games this season. Despite forcing three Wisconsin fumbles in the first half, Nebraska would eventually commit as many turnovers as the Badgers, with both teams turning the ball over four times.

The health status of Abdullah heading into the game was a big question mark and initially it looked as if the senior running back was his old self. However as the game wore on, it appeared Abdullah had not fully healed from an MCL sprain suffered against Purdue and finished with 18 carries for 69 yards. Armstrong struggled in the passing game, completing 6-0f-18 passes for 62 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The sophomore quarterback added 20 carries for 17 yards, while Abdullah added a 26-yard reception to led the Huskers in receiving yardage. Bell’s 12-yard scoring strike moved him ahead of Johnny Rodgers on the all-time Nebraska receiving yardage list, but the senior added only a 2-yard reception later in the game to finish with two catches for 14 yards.

Stave finished 7-of-11 passing for 46 yards and one touchdown as the Badgers improved to 8-2 overall and 5-1 in the Big Ten with the victory. With two games to go, the Badgers are in the driver’s seat on the way to Indianapolis and a spot in the conference title game, facing only games at Iowa and at home against Minnesota. Defensive end Randy Gregory left the field on Gordon’s final touchdown run with an undisclosed injury and his status is unknown, although Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini did say after the game that Gregory should be “fine.”

Nebraska is also 8-2 overall but 4-2 in league play, facing games at home versus Minnesota and at Iowa to close the regular season. The Huskers will face a 7-3 Gophers squad that fell to Ohio State 31-24 in Minneapolis.


Huskers blow early lead, trail Badgers 24-17 at halftime

Despite three Wisconsin fumbles, the Badgers rallied behind Heisman trophy candidate Melvin Gordon to overcome a 17-3 deficit and lead 16th-ranked Nebraska 24-17 at halftime in Madison.

Nebraska jumped to an early 3-0 lead after a 32-yard field goal from Drew Brown in the first quarter after the first Wisconsin turnover, then extended the lead to 10-0 after Tommy Armstrong’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Bell. The 12-yard grab put Bell past Johnny Rodgers as Nebraska’s all-time leader in receiving yards with 2,490. Wisconsin answered with a 26-yard field goal from Rafael Gaglianone at the 6:10 mark of the quarter to get the Badgers on the board.

Armstrong increased Nebraska’s lead to 17-3 after his 5-yard touchdown run with 14:12 left in the second quarter. However, Gordon broke loose for a 62-yard touchdown run on the next Badgers drive to trim the Nebraska lead to 17-10 at the 12:21 mark. Following a Terrell Newby fumble near midfield, Corey Clement capped off another Wisconsin scoring drive with a 17-yard touchdown run five minutes later to tie the game at 17-17. Sam Arneson’s 5-yard touchdown grab on 3rd-and-goal gave Wisconsin the 24-17 lead it enjoys at halftime.

Gordon has been in another class, all by himself once again, with 16 carries for 238 yards. Ameer Abdullah, who appears to be fully healthy after an MCL sprain in his left knee two weeks ago in a win over Purdue, leads Nebraska with 12 carries for 61 yards. Armstrong’s only completion of the first half was the touchdown toss to Bell–the sophomore has struggled, completing only 1-of-10 passing attempts for 12 yards.

Nebraska is winning the turnover battle 3-1, but have been unable to mount a scoring drive of longer than 43 yards. The second quarter at Camp Randall proved problematic for the Huskers as it did three years ago in a 48-17 loss to the Badgers–Nebraska was outscored 20-7 in the second period of the 2011 game, and were outscored 21-7 in this year’s contest.

The Huskers will get the second half kickoff to begin the final 30 minutes of action.