The Huskers put on a great show against Illinois and continue to remind Nebraska fans of old times. Power ground game, eating up yards and clock that frustrated the Illini. The Huskers pretty much took the game away from Illinois by keeping their offense on the sideline. This team continues to look like the mid 90's Osborne led teams that kept it close until the fourth quarter and then demoralized their opponents with nose to nose hard core smash mouth football.
So, another win but this team must learn to go week to week. They almost got caught looking forward to an off week and took Illinois too much for granted. A 5-0 start is the best since 2010 and if we can get to the Wisconsin game the Husker should be top ten with a good chance to take control of the West Division. Wisconsin fought a tough game today against Michigan and beating them on their turf will take a championship effort. Indiana has a tough defense and trails as I write this 7-0 at halftime. Purdue got hammered today. So, it appears the big challenge before the Badger game will be playing Indiana on the road. They have been improving every year and I think the Huskers will have to bring their A game to win.
Tommy Armstrong made some plays today but slipped back into the Bad Tommy role a couple of times. The big story of this game however is the injuries. Cethan Carter went out in the first quarter. Alonzo Moore was unable to dress for the game. Jordan Westercamp left the game with what looked like a very painful shot to the lower back. The receiving corps, considered the best in the Big Ten at the start of the season, is running a little light right now. Two weeks to recover are very welcome and hopefully they will be at full strength for the Indiana game.
A bright spot was senior Terrell Newby who took over the fourth quarter with two touchdowns, one on a 63 yard run. He ran for 113 yards in that quarter alone and was featured in the 18 play 10:49 minute drive that took the wind out of Illinois sails. He finished with 140 yards, two touchdowns while Devine Ozigbo totaled 35 yards and no touchdowns.
Another highlight has been the turnovers. The Huskers continue to show improvement in that department with only one fumble, which they lost. Tommy Armstrong has been the antithesis of the Tommy of 2015 by taking care of the ball and making (for the most part) good decisions. While last year an interception at a crucial time was never out of the question, this year he has rarely thrown one. Last year he had 16 and so far this year he has one.
Another area this team has improved greatly in is their conditioning. Last year they were the team that would get worn down late in the game. Now, just as the Osborne era teams did, this team takes control of the game late and controls the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball in the second half. It is almost a Nebraska trademark and it is great to see Coach Mike Riley seems to have embraced the Husker culture and has gone back to the type of football Nebraska played all the way back to the 70s's. It is a simple brand really. It is hard to game-plan against a better conditioned team. During the Osborne era the offensive linemen would occasionally tell the other team what play they were going to run and challenge them to stop it. I doubt we will see this team get that confident but I admit I was not worried at halftime when the Husker trailed because I know that the second half and especially the fourth quarter has belonged to the Huskers.
So, Wisconsin awaits and if that goes well Ohio State comes next. Both on the road. To be the best you have to beat the best and they have the schedule to make it to the playoffs. So far the Huskers keep finding a way to win. Wisconsin is beatable....we will see with Ohio State.