Well, Nebraska wins the “Heroes Game” and finishes the season the with my predicted record of 9-3. It was a solid season, with playmakers making the difference in key games. Let’s keep it with playmakers.
First Down: Lavonte David, Team MVP – Outside of Mike Rozier, what other junior college transfer has had an impact like Lavonte David as a Husker? (And even then, Rozier only played one season at the junior college level.) He broke the single season tackles record last season, and then this season played at an All-American level. A Butkus Award finalist, you saw his excellence throughout the game. One play summed up him up. He’s in coverage, and an Iowa WR pushes off on him. Lavonte falls to the ground, and the Iowa WR makes the catch. Lavonte chases him down, forces a fumble and recovers it. He does all this on a play where the Iowa WR is called for offensive pass interference against him. Again, on a play where the WR pushed him to the ground, Lavonte recovers and forces a turnover. He was a difference maker in a number of critical games this year.
Second Down: Rex Burkhead, Offensive MVP – The offensive gameplan was another steady diet of Rex, and he delivered. 38 carries? Crazy, but it worked. His play today showed why he has endeared himself to a number of Husker fans. He, along with the offensive line, wore down Iowa’s defense in the second and third quarters. He just keep plugging away, gaining yards after contact and earning first downs. I don’t know if he’ll make First Team All-Big Ten, but I don’t think I’d trade him for any other RB in the conference. And, Superman showed how he could fly as well. The Huskers were driving for a touchdown to go up 20-0, and he leaped over an Iowa defensive player for a first down. Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive…
Third Down: Alfonzo Dennard, shutdown corner – He started the season slow, due to injuries, but once he rounded into form he was great. He shut down highly regarded WR’s throughout the season, which freed up the rest of the defense. Iowa’s QB was statistically the best in the Big Ten, but Dennard locked up whoever he was on when the game mattered. Iowa had no chance on offense with Dennard, and Lavonte David, playing at an NFL-caliber level.
Fourth Down: Finished strong – A solid performance all-around by the Huskers gets them to the standard of 9 wins. While I don’t like it being an excuse at times (because every team has to battle some of this stuff), the team performed well considering injuries, tough schedule, new offensive system and adjustment to a new conference. After last week’s embarrassing loss to Michigan, the coachers and players were on top of things today with the victory over Iowa. Another 9 win season, Coach Bo Pelini’s fourth straight in his four years on the job. The last time that happened at Nebraska? 1998-2001.
Looking Ahead: With today’s win, and a number of upsets around college football, it looks like Nebraska will be playing in a January bowl game again. I think a chance at 10 wins depends on whether or not the opponent has a mobile QB. Right now, it would appear the Huskers would be playing someone from the SEC. Bring it on. Outside of the triumvirate of LSU-Alabama-Arkansas, I think Nebraska can play with whoever else.