Published Friday, December 21, 2012 AT 11:44 AM / Updated at 12:13 PM
Mad Chatter, Dec. 21
Dirk Chatelain Omaha World-Herald

It’s Friday! That means Ten Big stories in 10 little bites. We hit Bill Callahan and Eric Behrens, Gary Andersen and Cris Collinsworth, Jabari Parker and Suzy Favor-Hamilton. But first, college football’s 15 highest-rated night games of 2012.

No. 1 — by a large margin — was Notre Dame-USC. No. 2 was Alabama-LSU.

But scroll down the list a little farther.

No. 10: Nebraska-Ohio State, 3.1 rating, 5.1 million viewers

No. 11: Nebraska-Wisconsin, 2.9 rating, 5.1 million viewers

In those two games, NU allowed a combined 133 points. The average margin of defeat: 32 points.

Now Nebraska goes to the Capital One Bowl, where it faces a top-10 team, Georgia. All month, I’ve been saying the underdog role is perfect for NU right now. It gives Bo Pelini a motivational edge. It also puts NU in position where it doesn’t need to win the game in order to gain respect.

The Huskers have more to gain in Orlando than they have to lose. I still think that’s true.

But first and foremost, Nebraska needs to avoid a blowout. Or the program’s national perception will take an even bigger hit.

>> In the winter of 2005, Bill Callahan did something unprecedented at Nebraska: He signed two junior-college defensive tackles. With the addition of Ola Dagunduro and Barry Cryer, suddenly Nebraska had depth. Those two backed up Titus Adams and LeKevin Smith in ’05, then stepped into the starting lineup in ’06.

Looking at Nebraska’s depth chart at defensive tackle, it really needs a Dagunduro or a Cryer, even if he doesn’t start in 2013. Without an impact newcomer, Bo Pelini must rely on freshmen and sophomores, none of which was good enough to play in 2012. That’s a tough predicament in the Big Ten.

>> Omaha Central’s performance this week in Florida should solidify their status as the best high school team in Nebraska history. Central was a last-second 3-pointer from taking the No. 2 team in the country to overtime.

Eric Behrens has some very good talent — four or five Division I players, by my count — but the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Why? Coaching. And experience together. A lot of great high school teams don’t have either of those advantages. For a team with so many standouts, the Eagles have tremendous chemistry.

>> Creighton skated through its non-conference schedule at 11-1. Its strength of schedule is currently 57th, according to RealTimeRPI. That doesn’t look so bad on paper. But the Jays would’ve benefited from a few more tests — or one major test. Boise State was the only team that played Creighton within 10 points! There are a lot of reasons to like this team, but we won’t know how good they are until Jan. 2 (at Illinois State) and Jan. 19 (at Wichita State).

>> Before choosing Gary Andersen, Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez leaned on Frank Solich and Urban Meyer. But Andersen first caught Alvarez’s eye in 2011, when his Utah State team nearly upset Auburn.

>> Andersen is a fine pick, Sporting News Steve Greenberg says. As long as Alvarez gives him freedom to make changes.

>> I gotta say, Andersen’s decision to call every one of his Utah State players goes down as one of the classiest coaching moves I can remember. If you’re gonna leave your guys, do it the right way.

>> Who is Iowa’s next quarterback? How ’bout C.J. Beathard?

>> What makes Sunday Night Football the No. 1 show on TV? It starts in production truck.

>> Sports Illustrated goes behind-the-scenes of Jabari Parker’s recruitment. Parker chose Duke — the Dark Side — on Thursday.

>> You know all those bowl gifts that college football players receive? How do they come up with that stuff?

>> Outkick the Coverage‘s always-entertaining mailbag.

>> Stewart Mandel’s favorite stories of the college football season.

>> Patrick Hruby says schools like Ohio State are invading the privacy of their athletes. Requiring players to submit personal expenses? Giving up access to social media accounts? It’s disturbing, he says.

>> Speaking of Hruby, I’m a little late discovering this story, but here he examines the absurdity of sports welfare. Fascinating read.

>> You could spend half an hour on this site. The 10 best sports infographics of 2012.

>> Suzy Favor Hamilton’s hometown paper covers her prostitution story.

>> Looking for a last-minute Christmas idea? Don’t forget Henry Cordes’ book on Tom Osborne and the mid-90s.

>> In each blog post, I try to link the best articles floating around the sports world. But I’m curious, what’s your favorite sports story of the year? Is it something you read in the World-Herald? Is it one of these? I lean toward this one about Mo Isom, a girl who tries out for the LSU football team.

>> This is the last Mad Chatter of the year. We’ll be back Jan. 2 — the day after the Capital One Bowl — with fresh takes from Orlando. I’m thankful for your loyalty to the blog and hope you’ll return in 2013. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

About Dirk Chatelain

Dirk Chatelain is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and covers Nebraska football and general assignments. You can follow Dirk on Twitter (@dirkchatelain) or email him at dchatelain@owh.com