Lincoln, NE - After a slow start on Saturday night, Nebraska scored 20 unanswered points in second half against Wisconsin to take a 30-27 win.
A similar start against No. 12 Ohio State this weekend will get the Huskers beat in Columbus, Ohio.
"I thought our kids were a little too keyed up for the game," said Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini on Monday. "They maybe got outside of themselves a little bit. I talked to them about it before the game, but maybe they didn't have their emotions under control."
The combination of new jerseys, a prime-time atmosphere, and a revenge game might have had the Huskers too excited in the first half –leading to mistakes, but Saturday's game will have plenty of it's own big storylines – including a revenge game for the Buckeyes.
"They are 18-22 year old kids. We didn't play well in the first half and I thought they did a nice job of coming back in the second half," said Pelini. "The execution got better as the game went on, but we have to get it fixed. We won't be able to always survive the mistakes we made in the first half."
Alonzo Whaley rebounds against Badgers
After somewhat struggling against Southern Miss and bad performance against UCLA, senior linebacker Alonzo Whaley found himself back on the field Saturday against Wisconsin.
The Huskers were back to their base defense and Whaley made sure to capitalize on the opportunity.
Arguably playing the best game in his career, the Texas native recorded nine tackles and one sack midway through the second quarter.
"I have a lot of respect for Alonzo. He's come a long way. He's had his share of adversity through his career, and he's been through a lot," said Pelini. "I think he's grown and he's really become a tremendous team guy. It's good to see him have a game like he did the other night and have success. He's persevered through a lot of things. He's really matured and grown up and become a tremendous asset to our program."
Whaley's story is a unique one. After being left off the 105 last fall, the linebacker started against Iowa in Nebraska's final regular season game in 2011.
"Like a lot of kids these days, he had some things he had to figure out on what it takes to have success on the field and off the field," said Pelini. "He's never been a problem kid. You grow up and you mature. You grow into your role and what the challenges are of the student-athletes, and I think he's been through a lot of those things. I wouldn't say he's been in the doghouse, because he's never been in trouble with the law and that type of thing. He had some maturing he had to do, and he had some things to figure out and to his credit, he's done that. He's become one of the real leaders on our football team."
Meyer's new quarterback toy
While new Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer might not have a Tebow on his roster at this point, he's got a pretty good quarterback in sophomore Braxton Miller.
This season, the Ohio native has 933 yards through the air in five contests, recording five touchdowns.
But the majority of his damage has come on the ground for the Buckeyes, already collecting three 100+ yard games – rushing for nearly 6.4 yards a carry on 90 attempts.
"You see some similar plays, but Tebow was a 240 to 250 pound guy. Braxton Miller is like a tailback back there," said Pelini. "He's elusive, makes a lot of people miss. Tebow is going to run over you.
"Obviously there are some different plays that lend to each of their talents, but they are both obviously effective and dangerous in their own way."
Last season, Miller torched the Huskers for 91 yards on the ground, before leaving in the third quarter with injury. In the game, Nebraska completed their largest comeback in school history, a feat likely not to happen if Miller plays the fourth quarter.
Pelini going back to The Horseshoe"
The former Buckeye defensive back says he can't remember the last time he was at Ohio State for a game, but knows it a was a while ago.
The fifth-year head coach was asked if returning to his alma mater was a big deal this weekend on Monday.
"No. Why would it? I'm in a different time in my life and a different place. I have a job to do and that's all I'm concerned with," said Pelini. "I have pride in where I went to school in my career there. But that has nothing to do with Saturday. It doesn't really make any difference what happened in 1986-1990. That's a different time in my life."
Before Urban Meyer was named head coach at Ohio State, the former senior captain's name was often found on hot lists and coaching boards for the vacancy.
Bo Pelini Monday press conference:
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