Quick hits from Monday’s press conference as Nebraska begins short-week prep for Iowa:
>> Running back Rex Burkhead is “50/50” for Friday’s game, coach Bo Pelini said. Burkhead continues to recover from a MCL strain in his left knee.
>> Nebraska players aren’t looking at Friday’s game as a rivalry so much as they consider it a “championship game” for the Legends Division and a berth in the Big Ten Championship. NU seems focused on the Hawkeyes without a hint of looking ahead.
Linebacker Alonzo Whaley said that finishing off this six-game run is also a personal challenge for the Huskers.
“We have something to prove,” Whaley said. “Think about the beginning of the year. Everybody counted us out. Nobody said ‘Nebraska will be contending for the Big Ten Championship.’ The Big Ten Conference – I don’t want to say they had something out for us, but I don’t feel like they had faith we could contend year-in, year-out for a Big Ten Championship. We proved that Nebraska can. And we will.”
>> Quarterback Taylor Martinez said he’s learned over the last several weeks not to take the “home run shot” as often and throw safer, shorter passes. Those allow Nebraska’s wide receivers to make plays in space while diminishing the risk for interceptions.
>> Pelini and Husker players said maturity and a focus on details helped them pull off a five-game winning streak. Pelini said NU’s “businesslike” approach to adversity is notable and impressive.
>> Running back Ameer Abdullah smiled and shook his head when asked about his new nickname “Mighty Mouse.” It seems that a former high school teammate of Abdullah’s called the 5-foot-9, 185-pounder the same name.
“It’s OK, I guess,” Abdullah said. “I’m not big on nicknames at all, but Coach Brown, yeah, he has a lot of nicknames for everybody, not just me. Mighty Mouse, you’ve seen the cartoons. He was a really courageous person, he beat all odds. If (Brown) thinks that highly of me, I appreciate it.”
>> Abdullah unsurprisingly had no thoughts about Maryland joining the Big Ten.
“I don’t know anything about Maryland football,” he said.
Pelini said he was “a little surprised” that the Big Ten was choosing to expand so quickly after adding Nebraska, but understood that the league would be capturing a valuable TV market by adding the Terrapins and potentially Rutgers. Pelini said such additions wouldn’t change the Huskers’ recruiting strategy too much.
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