Sunday, September 23, 2012


Domination. Pure and simple.

Nebraska football fans who had been waiting for 15 years for their Cornhuskers to return to form watched it happen Saturday, as NU destroyed Idaho State 73-7. With a win this impressive, Bo Pinelli's crew lays its claim as early favorites for a Big Ten title and a trip to Pasadena.

Let's review how each facet of the team sparkled yesterday in the Star City:

Quarterback: Dual-threat wizard Taylor Martinez was his usual brilliant self, perhaps even better as he refines his new throwing motion. The junior was as efficient as ever, going 9/13 in the air for 165 yards, and hitting Kenny Bell on a surgical 68-yard strike before exiting early.

Martinez ran for just 15 yards, but the Huskers didn't need his legs against the Bengals. What's most important is that teams in the Big Ten MUST respect T-Mobile's blazing speed in conference play, or they'll be looking at the back of his jersey on the way to the end zone.

Even more impressive is the way the Corona, Calif., native has stepped up as a team leader. As a third-year starter, the way he manages and controls a game from under center has begun to remind us of another option master -- Tommie Frazier. Perhaps even Tommie Frazier with a better arm...and if you don't believe us...just look at the statistics.

The game was so lopsided that Ron Kellogg got some action. Leave it to personnel master Pinelli to get his backup some extra reps in a blowout game. Should T Magic go down later this year, Kellogg now has the experience needed to keep the Husker Train rolling toward the Rose Bowl.

Running Back: Sexy Rexy Burkhead made his comeback from a severe knee injury, and didn't miss a beat. He wore a knee brace for precautionary purposes, but will surely shed it before Wisky heads to town next week.

Ameer Abdullah is now 1A on the depth chart. He has great moves and speed. The only downfall to his game was an occasional fumble. But he hasn't put it on the carpet since UCLA, and we think it's safe to say that's a thing of the past.

Imani Cross got his first 100-yard game of the season -- surely the first of many as a Husker. He's got the power that NU will need in the rugged Big 10, where the linebackers are the size of freight trains and run like cheetahs.

Receiver: TEN Nebraska players caught passes. Kenny Bell will surely walk away with numerous honors before his days in Lincoln are done. It's also great to see how Martinez makes his young receiving corps better......putting the ball right where they need it to catch it on the run and rack up RAC. Quincy Enunwa got his first long touchdown, and coupled with Bell and Jamal Turner for the next couple years, we have a feeling a unit dubbed 'Lethal Weapon 3' is sure to emerge. Who said Nebraska can't throw the football??!

Offensive Line: The Pipeline. The famed unit that led Nebraska to three national championships in five years in the 1990s may just be back. This year's front five helped NU bulldoze its way to more than seven yards a carry against a bullish Bruin squad two weeks ago and did it again yesterday. Looks like Barney Cotton has finally gotten the style of player he'll need to win in the Big 10. Whether it's steamrolling down the field rush after rush, or giving T Magic all the time he needs in the pocket to pick apart the opponent's secondary, Cotton's Crew appears ready to lead the way.

Defensive Line: Pinelli's defensive front four crushed the Bengals from the start, when Cameron Meredith bull-rushed his may through Idaho State's massive left tackle for his second sack of the season. Given the way opposing teams have double-teamed him, and the fact that he plays in a "two-gap" scheme, that's an impressive number. Team maniac Eric Martin had also racked up 2.5 sacks.

When all was said and done, the Huskers had seven sacks and had reminded us of guys by the name of Wistrom, Peter, and Alberts. Pure terror coming at the quarterback. Every play.

Linebackers: With the D-Line wreaking havoc up front, the LBs weren't needed as much as normal. But it's safe to say Will Compton was flying over the field, throwing the bones and leading the team to another solid performance. Most importantly, the unit showed off its depth when Sean Fisher and Trevor Roach came into the game. The experience they got will be invaluable in the bruising Big 10, where fullbacks remind us of charging bulls.

Secondary: Terry Joseph's unit had its best game in years. Covering Bengals likes blankets and making two interceptions. Ciante Evans returned a pick 29 yards for a TD, the first that we remember by an NU defender since Alfonzo Dennard took one back against Washington in Seattle. Great to see playmakers back on the side of the scarlet and cream.

The interceptions, of course, get added to the highlights but we were most impressed by the secondary's coverage technique on Saturday. Defensive backs had several opportunities to turn around on balls and intercept them, but instead, they stuck to their instructions and played the man instead of the ball itself. Sure, they got a few pass interference calls and gave up a few long catches because of this, but over the long term it will pay off in spades. Pass break ups and interceptions are not important to turning the tide of close's technique that pays the bills in the defensive system.

Readers may not agree with everything written about the defense here today, but we think it's safe to say we can all agree that Bo should be handing out the Blackshirts this week.

So, that's our synopsis of the Idaho State game. Next up, a clash with the Badgers in Lincoln next weekend. Time for payback for the game in Madison last year, and the Nebraska players will surely have revenge on their minds. Wisconsin doesn't have Russell Wilson this year, and won't have the home faithful to save them either.

Look for a blowout on national television and for the country's college football fans to realize a week later what we realized yesterday: Nebraska is back. And we're here to stay!

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