It’s Friday! That means Ten Big stories in 10 little bites. I’m still on a Springsteen high following two shows in four nights, but it’s the last Friday Chatter before Thanksgiving, so we must press on.
Today we hit Lavonte David and Tom Osborne, Chip Kelly and Tim Miles, the McDermotts and Dick Vitale. But first, a potential championship team without a superstar.
Nebraska is favored to win the Big Ten title. On this point, I think we can all agree. But ask yourself this: Which Huskers are locks to earn first-team, all-Big Ten honors? I’m not sure there’s a single one.
From a consistency standpoint, Kenny Bell has been Nebraska’s best offensive player, but he’s not even top-10 in the Big Ten in receptions. He’s only fifth in yards. Will Compton has been the most prominent Blackshirt, leading the team in tackles. But he’s only ninth in the Big Ten.
Both of those guys are worthy. But will they nab a first-team spot?
My guess is the Huskers most likely to land on first team are Ciante Evans and Spencer Long. Evans has quietly had a fantastic season — even though he only has one interception. And Long is the best blocker on the Big Ten’s best rushing offense. Eric Martin, with a strong finish, might also earn a spot. He’s tied for the Big Ten lead in sacks with 7 1/2.
Keep an eye on Taylor Martinez. If Ohio State loses one of its last two — and Martinez finishes strong — Taylor has a shot to beat out Braxton Miller.
But it looks to me as if Nebraska won’t have a single skill player on the first team. Considering this is the best cast of skill players since … the 1990s? … that’s pretty remarkable. It illustrates the Huskers’ balance. That’s why they’re so hard to stop.
>> I’ve been to a lot of emotional Senior Days. I’ve watched fans say goodbye to Kenny Walker (in sign language) and Tommie Frazier (with a deafening roar) and hundreds of other Husker greats. I expect Saturday at Memorial Stadium to rival any of those moments. Not only will it be Tom Osborne’s last home game as A.D., it will be the curtain call for Rex Burkhead, a player who’s been a hero to kids (and parents) all over the state.
As you absorb their legacies — we’ll have them covered in Sunday’s World-Herald — here’s the story of a senior who had to find a different ending to his Nebraska fairy tale. My column on Micah Kreikemeier.
>> I know this will shock you, but Lavonte David is becoming a star in the NFL. Actually, it won’t. I’m not sure what GMs were thinking last April, but there’s no way David should’ve slid to the middle of the 2nd round. Good for the Bucs.
Gerald McCoy described David like this: “That dude is on another level right now.” David has 27 solo tackles the last two weeks alone! Only one player in the NFL has more this season.
>> Chris Jones, one of my favorite magazine writers, has a new favorite team — Creighton! Why? Greg and Doug McDermott. Now if we could just get the coach to let the All-American stay on the floor with two fouls.
>> Nebraska basketball hung on to beat Valparaiso, 50-48, last night at the Devaney Center. That’s a pretty good win, especially for a first-year coach.
Doc Sadler had a reputation for defensive toughness, but defense was a major problem last year — the Huskers ranked 145th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency. If Tim Miles can improve on that end of the floor, Nebraska can keep games close and steal a few more wins than expected.
I’ll get my first live look at the Huskers Sunday when they host UNO.
>> The New York Post rips Dick Vitale.
>> The NCAA has to get a handle on these eligibility issues in college basketball. The latest case, brought to light by Gary Parrish, is an incredible mess.
>> How did a Colorado high school football team rally around a sick boy who didn’t exist?
>> I wish I would’ve written about this: The greatest TV invention since DVR — the RedZone Channel!
>> A wonderful story of the Buffalo Bills’ relationship with their fans. I’m looking at you, Matt Schick.
>> I’ve been teasing Rose Bowl scenarios all week in the Mad Chatter. I’m fascinated by the possible opponents the Big Ten champion could meet — Oregon, Stanford, Oregon State, UCLA, USC, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, even an SEC team.
But as I sat down this morning to figure it all out, there are still too many variables. So I’m gonna wait until next week — after Oregon-Stanford and USC-UCLA provide some clarity this weekend. My apologies.
>> Chip Kelly’s offense? It really isn’t that cutting-edge. “Oregon is successful because it does well what good teams have always done well, albeit with a slightly more modern wardrobe.” This is an excellent piece.
>> Michigan football has a student-attendance problem. Half the student section (11,000 seats) was empty at kickoff against Northwestern.
>> Big Ten officials have been under fire this year, with the controversy often focusing on Nebraska. Bill Carollo, the conference coordinator of officials, spoke with ESPN.com and though he wouldn’t comment on specific calls, he did say this:
“We were having a good year,” Carollo said. “Have we stumbled the last couple weeks in some high-profile games? Absolutely. Are there a couple plays that I would like to have officiated differently? Absolutely…”
Hmmm, sounds like he’s saying Penn State should’ve been awarded the touchdown last week. In the interview, Carollo also addressed two areas that directly affect Nebraska: high hits and pass interference.
>> An excellent profile of Alabama running back Eddie Lacy.
>> If Texas A&M wants to promote Johnny Manziel for the Heisman, it might want to start by making him available to the media after the biggest win of the year.
>> Who does the college football playoff help most? Not the little guy.
>> No disrespect to Notre Dame, Gregg Doyel says, but Oregon and Kansas State are just better.
>> Finally, I conducted a quick Twitter poll today asking fans for the “best Tom Osborne moment at Memorial Stadium.” Colleague Jon Nyatawa had the funniest answer — the ’91 Oklahoma game when Osborne grabbed the official’s microphone and scolded fans for throwing oranges at Cale Gundy.
“This is a lot of baloney!” Osborne said. “You’re hurting our football team if you want to behave that way!”
My pick — based upon my understanding of history — is Nebraska’s upset of Oklahoma in ’78, Osborne’s first win over the Sooners. Beating Colorado in ’94 — a game I did attend — would be second.
>> Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend.