Not much rhythm, but the right result

It's hard to call it a textbook-win, but it was a win. Despite a first-half flurry by the Baylor Bears led by dynamic freshman Baylor QB Robert Griffin, a Husker defense, self-motivated to go into the second half with a new resolve, did just that, pitching a second-half shutout as they beat the Bears, 32-20.

The first half offensive stats for the Baylor Bears weren't exactly what Nebraska had planned:

Baylor ran 26 plays for 234 yards, 93 of which came on the ground from freshman quarterback Robert Griffin.

That's not a surprise, many realizing that completely shutting down the track star/single caller, wasn't going to be easy. Running back Jay Finley added 62 yards of his own on the ground, his long a 43-yard run up the middle as he broke free for the score.

That's two guys combining for 155 yards rushing, just four yards shy of their entire ground game for the first half of the game.

In the second half they ran for 57 yards.

Baylor also managed to move the effectively on offense, even though that Nebraska, typical to what it had done the previous two games, had the ball for almost 20 minutes of the first half. The Huskers managed 12 first downs, but with the ball just a little over half the amount of the big red, they still moved the chains 10 times before half.

In the second half they got six first downs.

The offensive line (Jaivorio Burkes pictured)
has became a force in helping Nebraska keep
the ball for inordinate amounts of time on

One thing that was consistent, though, from the first half to the last, was third-down-conversion-futility for the Bears. They were 0-for-4 in the first half, 0-for-4 in the second half, meaning that for an entire game of third down opportunities for the Bears, they could not cash in even once. "We didn't do very well and they did really well. That's why they're in there patting each other on the back and we're consoling each other," Baylor Head Coach Art Briles said. "You've got to convert on third downs."

Conversely, Nebraska converted 11 of their 17 chances on third down

Another consistency, at least over the last three games, has been Nebraska holding onto the ball a lot longer than the team they were playing. The Huskers had the ball for over 40 minutes versus Texas Tech, over 39 against Iowa State and just over 38 minutes today. That's good enough to put them at the top of the conference in that category, and it doesn't hurt when it comes to the opportunities to make plays. "I'm not sure what the time of possession was, but I know we won in that area," Bo Pelini said. "That's an area we have been good in lately, and third down conversions is a big part of that."

Of course, all this is possible due to an ever-improving offensive line.

The final stats of the Baylor game say that the line gave up two sacks, but one was on Ganz, who held onto the ball long enough to allow the defense to close in on him for the tackle behind the line. The second was simply a good play by Earl Patin, the Bear credited with both sacks on the Husker QB.

What the line didn't do was get a single penalty, no holding, no false starts, nothing.

Of course, the four personal fouls on the big red, two by Cody Glenn, offset that, Nebraska getting hit six times for penalties, totaling 70 yards. Unlike most other games, however, where Nebraska was easily the most penalized team on the field, Baylor had six infractions as well, but only got hit for 39 yards.

It looks like Nebraska's status as the most penalized team in the conference, while the teams they play being the least penalized, will remain intact for another week.


You can bet that unlike those whining former members of the '72 Miami Dolphins, who toasted with champagne every time their season of perfection remained intact as the lone standard when the last undefeated team went down, Husker legend Johnny Rodgers was wishing senior wide receiver Nathan Swift well.

It was certainly inevitable that Rodgers' record of 143 career receptions would fall at some point when the option-happy Huskers converted to the pass-friendly-pro-style attack. But how about this blue collar kid, recruited by some to play defense, who came out of Minnesota, played with three different starting quarterbacks and stayed consistent throughout. "He's just a good football player. I get tired of people saying he's possession guy, he's this, he's that. He's just a heck of a football player," Bo Pelini said. "He's a leader, he's a competitor, he's everything you want in a football player. To his credit, he became the all-time receptions leader and that's something to be proud of, something everybody's proud of."

His current quarterback reluctantly agreed, saying that yeah, Swift got the record, but it wasn't for a lack of trying NOT to get him the ball. "We didn't want him to break it. We wanted to keep "Jet" up there," Ganz joked of keeping Johnny Rodgers at the top of the list. "I told him that every ball that's thrown to him I want five bucks, and if I throw the record-breaker it's a hundred – a touchdown's 250.

"He didn't pay up, so I went in the game not expecting to throw the ball to him at all. So, I didn't want to."

For the game Swift had 11 receptions, his single-game best for his career.

By The Numbers

The average yards per punt for Dan Titchener, who came into this game as the party most responsible for Nebraska ranking as the 118th best team in punting average per game. That ranking might go up a tad after this week.

Quentin Castille's fumbling problem (this one
against San Jose State), continues to keep a
talented back from reaching his potential

That's the streak sophomore kicker Alex Henery had fall by the wayside as he bounced an extra point off the left upright in the fourth quarter of the game. That streak dates back to the beginning of his Husker career.

The total number of fumbles lost by sophomore Quentin Castille this year, putting an unfortunate question mark on the exclamation point the Texas back has made at times this season. With athleticism that belies his size, a force-of-nature style which north-to-south makes him a short-yardage dream, this continuing woes at holding onto the ball make him a liability more often than not.

Where's the fullback? That's a good question, and it brings me to a statistic that I went into this game intentionally keeping in the first half of this game. What "1" is, is the difference between the number of times starting punter Dan Titchener was on the field versus the number of times the fullback was on the field, outside of special teams situations.

Senior fullback Thomas Lawson was on the field twice. Titchener was on the field three times for his three total punts of the game.

Why keep the stat? Simple. Nebraska offered in-state star C.J. Zimmerer as a fullback, but even if he ultimately becomes the best fullback in the history of the University, do you offer anyone a scholarship for a position which currently has the potential of getting less reps than that of a player at a position nobody wants to offer if they can help it?

That's the number of turnovers forced by the Huskers, keeping not a streak alive, but a trend that one Bo Pelini certainly isn't accustomed to, known for or liking very much at this point. It's a trend which puts Nebraska at 96th out of 118 Division 1-A teams in the country and dead last in the Big 12. It's amazing that Nebraska, a team that led the entire country in 2003 with Pelini at the wheel of the defense, now ranks almost at the bottom.

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