GAME RECAP: CLICK HERE
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah
THE MOMENT IT WAS OVER: CB Josh Mitchell’s 57-yard fumble recovery for a score that put the Huskers up 10 in the third quarter.
WHAT A NEBRASKA WIN MEANS: The Huskers will likely make a decent move in both polls this week and should start to be considered a favorite to win the Big Ten.
LINCOLN, Neb. - When Michigan State lost to Oregon two weeks ago, many so-called experts claimed the Big Ten had little to no-shot of making the four-team college football playoff. Nebraska (4-0) showed Saturday night they might be the conference’s best hope.
In front a record home crowd (91.582), Nebraska got another Heisman like performance from running back Ameer Abdullah, to beat rival Miami 41-31 and stay unbeaten. Abdullah rushed for 229 yards on 35 carries, finding the end zone three times on the day.
“I've been around a lot of football. And (Ameer Abdullah) No. 8 showed just how special he is tonight,” said Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini. “He ran like a man possessed. I think the offensive line stepped up. The receivers stepped up. But I think our running game is what won this football game for us. That's what Nebraska football is all about.”
With only one forced turnover in their first three contests, Nebraska’s defense intercepted Miami true freshman Brad Kaaya two times and scooped up a fumble for a 57-yard touchdown return in the third quarter.
“We made enough plays to win the football game,” said Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini. “Our challenge is to keep working everyday to get better as it (the season) goes on. We've got to be a better football team next week as we take the field."
Abdullah’s special day:
The senior has had some special moments and games over the course of his career, but Saturday night might have been his best overall effort.
“That's him,” said quarterback Tommy Armstrong. “That's what he's been doing ever since last year and ever since he's been starting. He's a physical back. He's small, but he's big."
If Abdullah does not make an appearance on someone’s top five Heisman watch list on Monday, they are completely ignoring the running back on purpose.
Not only did Abdullah go over 225 yards on the ground, he returned kicks, and had a receiving touchdown in the win.
On the season, he’s rushed for 625 yards on 92 carries and has seven total touchdowns. Saturday’s effort pushed him to No. 3 on the all-time Nebraska career-rushing list and placed him first on the career all-purpose yards list – passing former Heisman trophy winner Johnny Rogers.
Would it really be a Nebraska-Miami contest without a little fighting? Emotions spilled over multiple times on Saturday, none greater than in third quarter when Nebraska was called a late hit on Kaaya. The call, which seemed questionable, wasn’t enough for Miami, who felt they needed a little payback.
“I don't worry about those scuffles. That's just part of football. I thought our guys handled themselves well in those times,” said Pelini. “There were a couple times where we had a chance. We didn't retaliate. We were basically pulling guys off. There was a chance it could have gotten out of control. But I also have to give their coaching staff some credit. It got heated a few times. It could have gotten out of control and it didn't. I think we handled it well. Separated them and moved on to the next thing. In my opinion it should have never gotten to that point."
Credit to the Nebraska players for keeping their poise during multiple situation that could have cost them players next week against Illinois.
I'm unaware if television showed it, but a Miami player decided to "flip the bird" to the Nebraska home crowd in the last few seconds of the contest. It was really a testament of the attitude many of the Hurricane players had in the second half.
“I like the fact that it meant a lot to our guys, obviously we don’t want to lose our poise like that, especially when you are playing a classy program like Nebraska," said Miami head coach Al Golden after the game. "I like the fact we stuck to it, the fact that they wanted to finish the game, but obviously the penalties—we can’t have them.”
* Abdullah’s rushing effort will be the buzz, but what about sophomore quarterback Tommy Armstrong? The starter ran for 96 yards on 13 carries, running the read-option quite effectively on Saturday night. Armstrong threw an INT and had a fumble, but was a good enough field general to put Nebraska in a position to win.
* What an effort by Husker linebacker David Santos, recording 10 tackles and an interception. It was the junior’s best game of his career. To be honest, I didn’t think he was athletic enough to make the interception play he did in the first quarter.
* While you will always take a big play, some fans had grown a little worried coming into Saturday that Nebraska was only able to score by big plays. The Huskers showed they can grind it out, by controlling the time of possession and recording a scoring drive well over 6:00 minutes in the second quarter.
* Nebraska senior wide receiver Kenny Bell caught his 16th career touchdown, putting him No. 3 on the Nebraska career list.
* Safety Corey Cooper will have to be better for the Huskers to beat the likes of Michigan State and Wisconsin later in the season. The senior had eight tackles on Saturday night, but took some bad angles on various runs and multiple times was late on down-field passes.
* I have never been part of an atmosphere where the home team is up 17 points, with less than 25 seconds left to play, and the crowd was as rowdy as it was. Chants of “defense” were roaring down from the top of the stadium as Miami was on the goal line looking to punch in a garbage time score. Maybe fans were sticking around to see another possible fight? Maybe they were enjoying seeing a rival like Miami, who's had so many battles with Nebraska over the years go down.
* As defensive coordinator John Papuchis said after the game, Nebraska put a lot of their recruiting eggs into Saturday night’s primetime affair – with a double-digit official visitor list in attendance. The recruits were not only treated to a great game, but a better atmosphere. It’s likely once Big Red Report catches up with each prospect, we will hear really good reports.
* Last but not least, Nebraska did a great job keeping Miami running back Duke Johnson in check, despite his success as a receiver. Johnson was held under a 100 yards and only rushed for 5.2 yards per carry, well off his season average. Johnson is one of the best backs in the country and it never felt like the Hurricanes were going to be able to pound it down the Huskers' throat.
Kicker Drew Brown post-game video:
Defensive coordinator John Papuchis post-game video:
Offensive line Jake Cotton post-game video:
Scout.com will have much more on the Huskers 41-31 victory over Miami during the early Sunday morning hours.
*** Credit to Stewart Photography for all the photos. ***