SWOT Analysis: Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Colorado Buffaloes
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To many in Husker Nation, the past week was a low point in this still-young Pelini era.
It's not so much that Nebraska lost to Texas A&M but how they lost. It seemed like the wheels were coming off the wagon with injuries, penalties and coaching outbursts.
And those damnable rumors.
What would happen with a short week to prepare for a resurgent Colorado team? Three weeks ago, the Buffaloes were left for dead with their head coach fired.
Now they rolled into Lincoln one win away from bowl eligibility with the ability to knock their self-designated rival out of the conference championship game.
Well, instead of the wheels coming off, the wagons were actually circled. And buffalo meat was served around the campfire tonight.
The Huskers blew out the Buffaloes old-school style, 45-17. It's been awhile since we've seen some names on the field that we've never seen before.
It was great to have seniors like Zac Lee getting some playing time in their final home game. The reception Lee received from the home crowd was truly heartwarming.
But my personal favorite was Joe Broekemeier, the senior walk-on from Aurora, Neb. Up until today, his stats line for receptions and yards were zero and zero. But he came through on Senior Day with three key receptions for 34 yards, second only to starter Brandon Kinnie.
So, let the overall record show 49-18-2, in favor of the Huskers. Hardly a rivalry at all.
Now, on to the SWOT:
Buffalo Kill Cody
Last week I said Cody Green was Nebraska's best bet at quarterback due to his running strength, pinpoint passing and game management skills. Yep. That's what I wrote. No need to go back and check.
Where in the hell has this Cody Green been?! Strong in the pocket, making the correct reads, running through defenders...his play made me a believer again.
And he instilled some confidence in a Husker nation, should Taylor Martinez still not be available for the Big 12 Championship Game.
Granted, Watson did a better job of calling a game that suited the sophomore's skills with more snaps under center and power sets. His numbers were modest but efficient, going 10-for-13 for 80 yards, but with two touchdowns.
He added another touchdown on the ground. The biggest number: zero. The turnover-prone QB had none for the game.
All in all, a very good performance by the back-up quarterback. And, yes, I must eat my words from last week.
T-Rex Rules, Again
A big reason for Green's success lies with Rex Burkhead's ability to run the offense as well as any of Nebraska's quarterbacks. The sophomore running back could very well be this offense's MVP.
Just as in the Iowa State game, Burkhead ran the Wildcat formation with precision. Unlike the Iowa State game, Burkhead completed two passes out of the formation, both of them going for touchdowns.
Oh, and he also ran for over 100 yards. And the kid simply will not fumble. His runs between the tackles are things of beauty. Rex is old-school Nebraska and will make a great running back in the Big Ten.
Once again the Husker secondary feasted off of an opposing quarterback. Colorado's Cody Hawkins had played admirably in the two victories since his father, Dan, was fired as head coach.
But Nebraska held the senior signal-caller to 10-of-26 for only 163 yards. He did complete two easy long throws for touchdowns, which made things mildly interesting in the second half.
But his two picks were Buffalo killers. Seniors Eric Hagg and Dejon Gomes got a pick apiece, with Hagg returning his inside the 10-yard line, setting up a touchdown for the offense.
Senior cornerback Prince Amukamara almost had his first INT of the season as well.
Gomes also took another ball stripped by Alfonzo Dennard off of the Buffs' Scotty McKnight down inside the 5-yard line to give Nebraska's offense another very short field to cover.
Thrice as Nice
Simple and impressive stat: Nebraska was 11-for-17 on third down. That's amazing. And they did it through the air and on the ground. This also contributed mightily to the 19-minute advantage Nebraska had in time of possession.
Both third-down conversion and time of possession stats can be attributed to the offensive line's best performance of the year.
No one is going to confuse the Buffalo defense for the Steel Curtain, but the offensive line simply overpowered their counterparts, especially in the fourth quarter, when they picked up four or five yards at will.
I was deeply concerned about what appeared to be a complete lack of passion from the Husker coaches on the sidelines. How does head coach Bo Pelini expect his team to play hard if he doesn't fight for his players?
What? Too soon?
Stop me if you've heard this one before: Nebraska commits too many penalties.
If you want to compare it to last week then, sure, this was a clean game.
But the Huskers still committed eight penalties for nearly 80 yards. But at least they kept it to below double digits. Way to go, guys!
Who would you rather play in the Big 12 Championship Game?
R & R
This short week was particularly tough on Nebraska, which is ailing late in the season. Now the hurting Huskers, namely Taylor Martinez and a somewhat gimpy Roy Helu, can get some rest with nine days until their next game.
And Niles Paul? It's a damn shame to have the senior out for, potentially, the rest of his career at Nebraska. Sure, the electric wide receiver/return man can be exceptional or exceptionally exasperating. I admittedly had mixed emotions about his absence. But there is no doubt he gives his all for the team.
Let's hope the Huskers have his services in the bowl game.
Hey, we had a Dontrayevous Robinson sighting! Several, in fact.
The 6'1", 230-pound back put the Buffs away in the fourth quarter with several bruising runs up the middle for four or five yards a pop.
It was great to see the little-used back get some quality time and provide Burkhead and Helu with some much-needed rest in preparation for the big game next week.
Plus, it would be great to see him getting more clock-eating time in the conference championship game as well.
History Never Repeats
I do not like another matchup with Oklahoma State, which is one victory away from making that happen. Nebraska won in Stillwater due to an other-worldly passing performance from Taylor Martinez, something he hasn't come close to repeating since his injury in the Missouri game.
Besides, what red-blooded Cornhusker fan doesn't want to face old nemesis Oklahoma in the last Big 12 matchup between the two rivals? It's Bedlam on Saturday, and I'm a Sooner fan for a day.
So Nebraska completes its final conference trip beating all of their old Big Eight foes and losing to the two Texas teams, much like it's been for what seems like eons.
But the big prize remains intact. And beating Oklahoma for the final conference championship would taste better than the Buffalo steak the team enjoyed tonight.
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