Nebraska used its stampede of the Gophers as a tuning-up session for bigger challenges that lay ahead.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers played one good half of football Saturday. That's all that was required.
The rest was just an exercise in clock-killing and an opportunity to practice in an actual game setting.
The Huskers' 41-14 victory against the Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium was remarkable in that it looked so pedestrian, so textbook. So boring?
The formula was simple: a handful of big plays by the Huskers, a lot of mistakes by the Gophers and an ocean-sized difference in talent level.
There was no real drama or suspense, other than what the final margin would be. It was a workmanlike display of dominance in a stadium half-filled with Big Red fans.
"You saw a team in there [locker room] that wasn't hooting and hollering," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. "They were happy. Another day at the office is kind of their approach."
It helps, of course, when the opponent is beaten down to the extent that the Gophers are right now. The Gophers make one mistake or have one thing go wrong, and the whole house of cards crumbles.
Not that it really mattered. The Huskers obviously have a different caliber of athlete. Any time they needed a play, they typically made it.
The Huskers posted a season high in rushing yards (346) and total yards (515), and their 34-0 halftime lead tied for the largest halftime lead in Pelini's four seasons.
Afterward, they just kind of shrugged and promised to play better.
"I thought we played a good football game," Pelini said. "I thought we did a lot of good things, but there's still a lot of things we can do better, obviously. But I thought it was a pretty complete effort in the first half. In the second half, we played a little differently, a little bit by design."
Translation: They were in no danger of losing, so they worked on different wrinkles while the team bus idled in the parking lot.
The Huskers toyed with the Gophers at the start of the second half. After moving the ball to the Gophers 34, they tried three deep throws that went incomplete. Quarterback Taylor Martinez, who has some of the worst mechanics you'll ever see, looked like he was throwing pop flies to his receivers. The Huskers then attempted a 51-yard field goal that fell well short.
The game basically became a glorified practice to them.
Pelini gave his team a "B" for its performance in the run game and noticed things that need to get "cleaned up."
"I'll put it this way: We left a lot of big plays out there on the field, in my opinion," he said.
Nebraska put the game away with a flurry of big plays in the second quarter.
Kenny Bell took a reverse 82 yards for a touchdown, the longest touchdown run by a freshman in Nebraska history.
"I think he is the fastest player in the NCAA," Martinez said.
Brandon Kinnie took a screen pass a career-high 61 yards, setting up a field goal.
Safety Austin Cassidy picked up a fumble by Gophers quarterback MarQueis Gray and returned it 11 yards for a touchdown and 27-0 lead.
"I think we have a lot of momentum and a lot of swagger," Martinez said.
That's what a 34-0 halftime lead will do for a team. The Huskers had 330 total yards while holding the Gophers to 9 measly yards passing in the first half.
The Huskers, who haven't lived up to preseason expectations on defense this season, talked about gaining confidence from their performance. That should be tempered some be the reality of the caliber of competition they were facing. Everybody plays well defensively against the Gophers.
But Pelini liked the way his players handled the situation. They went on the road, jumped on a bad team early and left little doubt about the outcome. This was merely a tuneup for tougher challenges down the road.
"I love our approach right now," Pelini said. "We're going to get what we earn."
They needed only one half to determine that on Saturday.
Chip Scoggins • firstname.lastname@example.org
|Kansas City - J. Vargas||7:07 PM|
|San Francisco - R. Vogelsong|
|Detroit||10/26/14 8:30 AM|
|Buffalo||10/26/14 12:00 PM|
|St. Louis||10/26/14 12:00 PM|
|Houston||10/26/14 12:00 PM|
|Minnesota||10/26/14 12:00 PM|
|Seattle||10/26/14 12:00 PM|
|Baltimore||10/26/14 12:00 PM|
|Miami||10/26/14 12:00 PM|
|Chicago||10/26/14 12:00 PM|
|Philadelphia||10/26/14 3:05 PM|
|Oakland||10/26/14 3:25 PM|
|Indianapolis||10/26/14 3:25 PM|
|Green Bay||10/26/14 7:30 PM|
|Washington||10/27/14 7:30 PM|
|New Orleans||10/30/14 7:25 PM|
|NY Rangers||6:00 PM|
|New Jersey||6:00 PM|
|Tampa Bay||7:00 PM|
|(11) Kansas State||23|
|San Jose St||17||4th Qtr 9:18|
|Northern Ill||28||4th Qtr 1:26|
|(25) UCLA||24||3rd Qtr|
|Akron||21||3rd Qtr 12:59|
|Massachusetts||20||3rd Qtr 10:25|
|Ohio U||7||3rd Qtr 14:55|
|Ga Southern||34||3rd Qtr 14:47|
|Kent State||3||3rd Qtr|
|Oregon State||0||1st Qtr 2:32|
|Fla Atlantic||3||1st Qtr 5:11|
|Louisiana Tech||0||1st Qtr 4:31|
|(1) Miss State||7||1st Qtr 6:25|
|Georgia Tech||28||1st Qtr 9:44|
|(22) West Virginia||14||1st Qtr 5:55|
|Texas Tech||10||1st Qtr 9:54|
|Michigan||0||1st Qtr 8:14|
|(8) Michigan State||7|
|Boston College||9||1st Qtr 0:00|
|Central Mich||7||1st Qtr 3:52|
|Vanderbilt||0||1st Qtr 14:15|
|Old Dominion||0||1st Qtr 15:00|
|UNLV||0||1st Qtr 15:00|
|(15) Arizona||5:00 PM|
|Texas-El Paso||6:00 PM|
|Texas State||6:00 PM|
|(3) Ole Miss||6:15 PM|
|(4) Alabama||6:30 PM|
|So Carolina||6:30 PM|
|(13) Ohio State||7:00 PM|
|(20) USC||9:00 PM|
|(14) Arizona State||9:45 PM|
|(2) Florida State||10/30/14 6:30 PM|
|Troy||10/30/14 6:30 PM|
|Cincinnati||10/31/14 7:00 PM|
|Tulsa||10/31/14 7:00 PM|
|Purdue||11/1/14 2:00 AM|
|(17) Oklahoma||11/1/14 2:00 AM|
|Oklahoma State||11/1/14 2:00 AM|
|(11) Kansas State|
|(10) TCU||11/1/14 2:00 AM|
|(22) West Virginia|
|Texas||11/1/14 2:00 AM|
|Northwestern||11/1/14 2:00 AM|
|Maryland||11/1/14 2:00 AM|
|Air Force||11/1/14 10:30 AM|
|ULM||11/1/14 11:00 AM|
|Duke||11/1/14 11:00 AM|
|Wisconsin||11/1/14 11:00 AM|
|Rice||11/1/14 11:00 AM|
|(18) East Carolina||11/1/14 11:00 AM|
|UCF||11/1/14 11:00 AM|
|Boston College||11/1/14 11:30 AM|
|North Carolina||11/1/14 11:30 AM|
|Washington||11/1/14 12:00 PM|
|Central Mich||11/1/14 12:00 PM|
|Western Mich||11/1/14 1:30 PM|
|Western Ky||11/1/14 2:00 PM|
|NC State||11/1/14 2:00 PM|
|Texas State||11/1/14 2:00 PM|
|New Mexico St|
|Virginia||11/1/14 2:30 PM|
|BYU||11/1/14 2:30 PM|
|Indiana||11/1/14 2:30 PM|
|Florida||11/1/14 2:30 PM|
|Georgia State||11/1/14 2:30 PM|
|Kentucky||11/1/14 3:00 PM|
|Kansas||11/1/14 3:00 PM|
|Houston||11/1/14 3:00 PM|
|(20) USC||11/1/14 3:30 PM|
|Arkansas State||11/1/14 4:00 PM|
|South Alabama||11/1/14 4:00 PM|
|New Mexico||11/1/14 4:30 PM|
|UAB||11/1/14 6:00 PM|
|(5) Auburn||11/1/14 6:00 PM|
|(3) Ole Miss|
|Arkansas||11/1/14 6:00 PM|
|(1) Miss State|
|Old Dominion||11/1/14 6:00 PM|
|Colorado State||11/1/14 6:00 PM|
|San Jose St|
|Stanford||11/1/14 6:30 PM|
|Tennessee||11/1/14 6:30 PM|
|Southern Miss||11/1/14 7:00 PM|
|(7) Notre Dame||11/1/14 7:00 PM|
|Illinois||11/1/14 7:00 PM|
|(13) Ohio State|
|(15) Arizona||11/1/14 9:30 PM|
|California||11/1/14 9:30 PM|
|San Diego St||11/1/14 9:30 PM|
|Wyoming||11/1/14 9:45 PM|
|(19) Utah||11/1/14 10:00 PM|
|(14) Arizona State|
|Utah State||11/1/14 10:00 PM|
|Los Angeles||0||2nd Half 44:55|
|Toronto FC||6:30 PM|
|Brt Columbia||6:00 PM|
|Hamilton||10/31/14 6:30 PM|
|Winnipeg||11/1/14 3:00 PM|
|Brt Columbia||11/1/14 6:00 PM|
|Toronto||11/2/14 11:00 AM|
|Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois||6 pm||X||42-20|
|Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St.||2:30 pm||X||35-24|
|Sep 13 - at TCU||3 pm||X||30-7|
|Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St.||3 p.m.||X||24-7|
|Sep 27 - at Michigan||2:30 pm||X||30-14|
|Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern||11 am||X||24-17|
|Oct 18 - vs. Purdue||11 am||X||39-38|
|Oct 25 - at Illinois||11 am|
|Nov 8 - vs. Iowa||TBA|
|Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State||TBA|
|Nov 22 - at Nebraska||TBA|
|Nov 29 - at Wisconsin||TBA|