Evans Learns from Indianapolis

Nebraska senior defensive back Ciante Evans admits that the program made a lot of strides from its first to second year in the Big Ten, but the loss to Wisconsin in the conference championship game last season still stings.

CHICAGO - Mention the Big Ten championship game to Nebraska senior defensive back Ciante Evans and three words come to his mind.

Wake. Up. Call.

"That was a defining moment for us," Evans said last week at Big Ten Media Days. "That let us know that we didn't work hard enough."

Nebraska came in having won six straight games and was facing a Wisconsin team with five losses, losers of three of its last four, a team the Huskers beat, 30-27, in Lincoln in late September and an opponent Nebraska was playing because Ohio State and Penn State were ineligible for postseason play.

Although coming in as heavy favorites to win its first Big Ten championship in just its second year in the league, Nebraska trailed from start to finish, gave up a program-record 539 rushing yards and saw Wisconsin hang 70 points on its Blackshirts defense in a demoralizing 39-point loss.

"They ultimately ran what they were going to run," said Evans. "We'd seen it before. I don't think we overlooked them but I think the moment, at the time, was overwhelming for a lot of guys. We worked so hard to get there, so a lot of guys said, ‘We're finally here.'

"As soon as we took a deep breath, they put 70 on us."

Evans was involved in a lot of highlight reel plays on that evening in Indianapolis. Unfortunately they were made at his expense. Evans was one of the players that Melvin Gordon ran through on his 60-yard run just before halftime, allowing Wisconsin to tack on another touchdown to lead 42-10.

Evans also got punished by Wisconsin's other tailback. Despite having the angle on him in a one-on-one situation, Evans was sent tumbling to the turf by a Montee Ball stiff arm, allowing the UW senior to score on a 57-yard touchdown in the third quarter to make it 56-17.

"It was a growth moment for me," said Evans. "There are a lot of things I wish I could have done differently. That's just a part of growing up as a player and growing up individually. You always wish you could have done things differently when the outcome doesn't come your way. It's just something I have to learn from and move on."

The lessons will be important for Evans to help Nebraska's secondary. Losing both starting safeties from last year's team, Evans, who finished with 56 tackles last season, acknowledged his role as a leader will be even bigger.

But since joining the Big Ten, Nebraska has slowly made the adjustment, going from 5-3 in its first season to 7-1 a year ago. The next step is bringing home a championship.

"The ultimate goal for us as a team is to go back (to Indianapolis) and win," said Evans. "At the same time, we have to do all the little things. We have to worry about August 31 against Wyoming, but we keep winning a Big Ten championship in the back of our minds."

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