That score will stick with Nebraska fans for a long, long time. It’s one of the most surprising — and embarrassing — losses in school history. But two months after the Big Ten championship debacle, Husker coaches have taken a step toward making sure it doesn’t happen again.
Wisconsin dominated Nebraska at the line of scrimmage. Beat ‘em up and pushed ‘em around. Where was NU’s offensive and defensive line depth? What happened to player development? Those concerns are still valid.
But in the short-term, Bo Pelini did what he could. He stocked the cupboard.
Of the 13 prospects who chose NU after Dec. 1, eight were linemen. Coincidence? Perhaps. But that emphasis on the trenches altered my view of the class.
To win this league, you need your share of Tre’Vell Dixons and Adam Taylors. But more important, you have to match Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin up front. Nobody knows which individual recruits will pan out. Surely some will fail. But signing 12 new linemen gives Nebraska a bigger margin for error — and demonstrates the coaches’ priorities.
The irony, of course, is that linemen almost never contribute as freshmen. So unless a few jucos make an immediate impact, Nebraska’s success in 2013 will depend on the guys Pelini already has. He has seven months to get them ready.
>> One more note on Nebraska’s pursuit of the Big Ten big dogs. From ESPN:
“Of the Big Ten’s 24 ESPN 150 commitments, all but three of them belong to Ohio State and Michigan. The Buckeyes have 11, while the Wolverines claim 10. Indiana, Penn State (2) and Wisconsin are the only other league schools that have an ESPN 150 prospect committed.”
Can Nebraska start developing its talent more effectively than the Buckeyes and Wolverines? Can Nebraska put together better schemes than Urban Meyer and Brady Hoke? Pelini is starting with a talent disadvantage. He has to bridge the gap somewhere.
>> We’ll have more recruiting talk in Friday’s Chatter. By then, you’ll have time to memorize all the information in these three links:
From SI, a valuable look at recruiting rankings and their predictive accuracy. They may be better at predicting results than the preseason polls.
From CBS Sports, great data on the odds of seeing your recruits become an All-American.
From ESPN, a geographic look at recruiting. Which schools best protect their home turf? And which states do schools like to raid? Sorry, North Carolina.
>> You know who’s right at the center of Ole Miss’ recruiting jackpot? Chris Kiffin, former Husker intern. Laremy Tunsil and Robert Nkemdiche both mentioned Kiffin specifically. I profiled Chris four years ago as he was trying to get his life back on track after battling personal problems. He desperately wanted a chance — somewhere — to get a full-time gig and show what he could do in recruiting. He’s making the most of it.
>> Did Super Bowl week highlight the best of the NFL? Or the worst? The league has some serious issues right now.
>> Joe Flacco is the best QB in the NFL, says Merril Hoge.
>> Trevor Pryce says Ray Lewis didn’t earn his paycheck at the Super Bowl.
>> 20 MLB players are scheduled to make more money this year than the entire Astros roster! Even the Marlins think that’s cheap.
>> Ed O’Bannon v. The NCAA. The lawsuit that could revolutionize college athletics.
>> The Washington Post profiles a playground legend who never got his shot.
>> I hope Jim Delany is spending every night from 8 to 10 in his La-Z-Boy. Big Ten basketball doesn’t quite make up for all the football frustrations the past few years, but it’s remarkably good right now. Michigan-Ohio State was even better than Indiana-Michigan. The league is arguably on par with the great Big East leagues in 2009 and ’11. Too bad Delany can’t get the TV executives to pay bijillions for good basketball, too.
>> Finally, a potentially big night for Creighton. For all its basketball success the past 15 years, CU has just one outright regular-season conference championship. One. That was 2000-01 (Twice it shared the league title).
The Jays can basically lock up this year’s crown with a win tonight at Indiana State. Wichita State blew a 17-point lead Tuesday and lost at Southern Illinois, its third straight defeat. Both the Shockers and Sycamores have four Valley losses. Creighton has just two.
Fans (and media) make a big deal of CU’s NCAA tournament seeding. But the Jays are long overdue for a regular-season title. Even better if they can clinch before the regular-season finale against Wichita.