Nebraska and Iowa were rivals before the horrendously named "Heroes Game" ever took place.
Iowa, to a foaming-at-the-mouth Husker fan like myself, is a knockoff. A bootlegged version of our great state. They're the Dr. Pepper 10 to Nebraska's Diet Dr. Pepper: tastes kind of the same, but there's just something missing. Plus they're fatter. (*Author's note: See? I couldn't resist. I literally could not resist.)
Regardless, the Huskers' solid win against the Hawkeyes last Saturday won't change much in the way the two sides view each other. However, there were several things to take away from the Huskers' Ndamukong Suh-ing of the overmatched Hawkeyes:
Burkhead Goes Beastmode
From the opening stages of the game, it became abundantly clear that the Huskers were going to give the ball to P-90Rex early, often and a few thousand more times for emphasis. In a game where the Huskers lulled their opponents to sleep, they imposed their will on the O-line and Burkhead looked back to his usual, bruising self.
After a 0-0 opening quarter, the Huskers called Burkhead's number more times than a drunk, jaded ex-girlfriend who just found out her old boo is out with a real "skank." They leaned on him more than Long John Silver after playing too much grog-pong and hitting a patch of rough seas. You get the point.
Play after play, P-90Rex went to work. He churned out 160 yards and watched as his Paul-Bunyan-style legend grew another three times before our very eyes.
He ended the game with 37...er...38 carries. Officially? He toted the rock a staggering 38 times, a new Husker record. Unofficially? He was handed the ball on the final play of the game by Taylor Martinez so he could take the final knee. Still, P-90Rex was a man among Iowan boys on Saturday, and his effort and grit must be commended.
In a Reverse Southpark: Kenny Does the Killing
Kenny Bell, much maligned for his drops and his costly fumble in the Michigan game, came back in a big way. He led all receivers with five catches for 93 yards, including a few phenomenal catches that showed Husker fans what the redshirt freshman is truly capable of. (*Author's note: Kenny also shattered the post-1970's record of MPA [mentions-per-afro])
His chemistry with Martinez has seemed to pick up as the season has progressed, and it leaves me hoping that two things will happen next season:
First, that Kenny's afro will continue to defy science and human anatomy, and will continue to expand at a pace and amount equal to that of the known universe, and second, that he will continue to develop his game and will come back next year faster, better versed in the offense and perhaps with a slightly bulked-up frame to help him stay away from injuries.
A lot to hope for, to be sure, but he has shown flashes that make him an extremely exciting prospect further down the road.
The Fonz Kicks Iowa Nation in Their McNutts
Alfonzo Dennard has had a great second half of the season. The Senior started off a little slow—due perhaps in part to a lingering leg injury that kept him out of a few games early in the year—but he has picked up steam as the season has progressed.
It culminated last Friday, with The Fonz blanketing the Big Ten Receiver of the Year, Marvin McNutt.
McNutt, known for his abilities as a wide receiver as well as for having a name that sounds like an ill-advised merger between McDonald's and Planters, was completely shut down by Dennard. You could say that Dennard was draped over McNutt like a leather jacket or that he kickstarted the Blackshirts like slamming his hand on the jukebox.
(*Author's note: I apologize. I literally know nothing about Happy Days other than that it may have had something to do with those things. I do, however, firmly believe that anytime he makes a pick in the NFL he should lean back, hold out two thumbs up and shout, "Heyyyyyyyyyy!")
Seniors Hit The Road
Playing in their final game at Memorial Stadium was a bevy of talent that will sorely be missed.
Gone is Jared Crick-in-a-box, The Fonz and LaVonte "Who Else" David (*Author's note: I began simply turning and saying, "Who Else" to the people watching the games with us every time David would swoop in, blow our collective minds with an amazing play and save our asses on defense).
Gone is Marcel Jones, Brandon Kinnie and Yoshi Hardrick. On offense, we return a good portion of talent and skill players.
If you're a religious person, I'd start praying in advance. If you're not? I'd convert to a religion and start praying in advance. You following me?
We lose three All-Americans from a defense that is average. Without (who else?) LaVonte David getting 48 tackles per game this year, we might have lost two more games on the season. He's not a talent that you replace easily.
Will Compton has begun to develop into the player that we thought he had the potential to be, but David's shoes are big enough to make even Bozo the Clown nervous about filling them. Coach 'em up, Pelini Bros. Coach 'em up. Seriously, I'm begging you.
The Huskers didn't make the Big Twenve championship game this year, but we will still get a chance to head to a bowl game. This Saturday, while pretending like I give a damn about Michigan State vs. Wisconsin, I'll be washing down the bitter taste of not even getting a shot at a Big Twenve title. With beer.