Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Worst Husker Opponent Ever?

Not sure what was uglier. The game
or Pocatello reporter Matt Gittins'
pants. At least he matched the tie
with his shoelaces.
I didn't expect much when Nebraska announced in February that Idaho State was going to fill the last remaining open date on the Huskers 2012 season. But I didn't realize just how bad Idaho State was until I sat down to review Idaho State in detail in the summer.  Sure, 1-AA teams usually aren't very good, though there are a few exceptions.  Craig Bohl has put together a pretty salty squad at North Dakota State, and Northern Iowa is pretty good too.  And nobody (especially the Weasels who wear Maize and Blue) will ever forget Appalachian State.  Idaho State isn't one of those teams.

Idaho State isn't even a not very good 1-AA team.

Idaho State is a really bad 1-AA team.  They won two games last season, one of which was a 44-7 victory over Western State College.  You probably haven't heard about Western State College.  They aren't Division 1-A or even 1-AA.  They're Division 2.  And not a very good division 2 team either.  How bad?

Two weeks after losing to Idaho State, Western State College was blown out by Nebraska-Kearney 55-14.  A bigger margin of victory.

Translation:  Idaho State is probably a Division 2 calibre opponent.

So what did we learn about Nebraska today?  Not much.  There was such an extreme difference in talent on the field this afternoon, it's impossible to determine how well Nebraska may - or may not - have played.  Rex Burkhead looked like he was limping on his first carry, then proceeded to outrun every Bengal on a 61 yard touchdown run two carries later.  Rex Burkhead doesn't have breakaway speed with a healthy knee, but even with a bum knee, he's faster than anybody on the Idaho State defense.

Idaho State's defense is woefully undersized as well, with their biggest player weighing at 263 pounds.  Nobody else on the two-deep even tops 250 pounds.  Yet the Nebraska offensive line couldn't create any holes up the middle.  That has to be alarming.  Sure, there were plenty of running lanes outside, but inside...not so much.

Did the Husker defense find their mojo today?  Not really; Idaho State's offense is the ideal foe for a Pelini defensive scheme.  No credible running threat from either the running backs or the quarterback; the Bengals just want to sit back and fling the ball around the field all day.  That frees up the Nebraska defensive line to go eat quarterbacks, and eat they did:  seven sacks and fifteen tackles for loss.  Again, they should have dominated the Idaho State offensive line, who's heaviest player, freshman left tackle Colin Prestesater, tops out at 285 pounds.

The best thing about the day is that nobody seemed to get hurt.  That's it.  It was such a mismatch that the most memorable part of the day was the Wave.  The wave was cool 30 years ago; it's passe now. But with the score already 35-0 in the second quarter, the bored students started the wave.  Big whoop.  But then they tried something different.  The slow motion wave.  The hurry up speed wave.  The reverse wave, followed in quick succession by the double wave going both directions.

I disdain the wave.  But today, the wave was more interesting than the game itself...and that pretty much sums up the day.  Enough joking about this one.  There's a Big Ten conference just waiting to be seized. Michigan has proven that it can be beaten, or maybe more accurately, can beat itself.  Michigan State's offense is dreadful.  Ohio State is improved, but isn't invincible. Wisconsin looks to be in disarray and now may have lost Heisman runner-up Montee Ball to another head injury.  A second concussion in two months makes Ball's status for next weekends Ugly Uniform game extremely questionable.

But before you get too hyped about Nebraska's chances, Nebraska's schedule took a beating today.  UCLA lost to Oregon State 27-20, while Western Kentucky blew out Southern Miss 42-17.  So Nebraska is probably one of several teams who have a chance to come out of the dumpster fire that is B1G football on top.

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