Nebraska scored 35 points in the first quarter to put Idaho State away early and was able to spend the rest of the game giving playing time to bench players and putting on an exhibition for the Children of the Corn.
As a competitive game, there wasn’t much to the contest against the Bengals. But there were things to learn about Nebraska that came out of the game. So let’s take a look at the winners and losers coming out of the Idaho State game.
Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead made his return after leaving the season opener against Southern Miss with a knee injury. The plan was to have Burkhead’s carries limited to allow him to ease back into game shape. Burkhead ended the game with only eight carries for 119 yards and two touchdowns. Welcome back, Rex.
It’s also worth noting that many analysts (including one particularly smart and handsome one) have observed that Burkhead is a solid and talented back, but lacks breakaway speed. Burkhead’s first two touchdowns have been for 57 yards and 61 yards. Shows what those dopes know.
Kenny Bell has had a strong start to 2012, with 11 receptions for 273 yards and four touchdowns. But against Idaho State, Bell got into the rushing category as well. On a jet sweep, Bell got the corner against the Bengals defense and outran the defense for a 68-yard touchdown.
OK, so technically it was a pass, but only because the one-foot pitch to Bell on the jet sweep was forward instead of backwards, But ultimately, the play showed (as it did against Minnesota last year) that Bell’s speed and elusiveness is a huge weapon for Nebraska.
Towards the end of the game against UCLA, Eric Martin showed the ability to apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks from the edge. Martin was able to continue that development against Arkansas State and came full bloom against Idaho State. Martin logged 2.5 sacks and five tackles for loss against the Bengals and appears to be Nebraska’s best weapon to deploy against opposing quarterbacks.
Mike Marrow entered the season looking to claim the starting fullback role and add a different dimension to Nebraska’s offense. But Marrow has struggled throughout the season, not blocking well and not being successful carrying the ball. That trend continued for Marrow and ended up splitting carries evenly between C.J. Zimmerer and Andy Janovich.
Nebraska fans have been tantalized by Jamal Turner’s speed and playmaking ability since his arrival in Lincoln last year. But Turner has struggled to force his way on the field and demand playing time. Against a team like Idaho State, Turner had an opportunity to make such a claim.
Unfortunately, Turner was unable to deliver against the Bengals. He only had one catch for six yards and two kick returns for 27 yards. The potential is still clearly there for Turner, but even after Idaho State, it remains just potential for Turner.
I really don’t want to be too hard on Idaho State, as the Bengals came in to Lincoln and tried their best to compete. But it was abundantly clear from very early in the game that Idaho State was completely mismatched by Nebraska.
With just under three minutes left in the first quarter, Nebraska was ahead 35-0. At that point, the game becomes a glorified scrimmage with Nebraska focusing as much on not running up the score as preparing for conference play.
Yes, Idaho State got a nice payday. Yes, Nebraska got an easy win and a chance to give its reserves some playing time. But this was a game that no one wanted to see, and college football as a whole would be better if such games were no longer played.
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