Thursday, November 1, 2012

What's the news coming from Nebraska and Minnesota this week?

As I do each Thursday, let’s take a look at the stories coming from the opponents of Michigan and Michigan State this week.

Though it may not seem like it, Bo Pelini has been head coach of Nebraska for five seasons already.
Pelini has led the Cornhuskers to at least 9 wins every season thus far, but he is lacking in much hardware to show for his efforts. That has not been lost on the local media covering Nebraska.
Sam McKewon, of the Omaha World-Herald, wrote a column this week saying it is time for Nebraska to close out the season and win the Big Ten title.
Pelini’s teams have struggled as the front-runners. They battle their way off the wall after an ugly loss, and their backs seem to instinctively seek out the wall again. The Huskers’ maturity should guard against a letdown. Of course, that maturity hasn’t exactly guarded against penalties and turnovers. NU can occasionally play like a team at odds with its self-interest. Like the offense did on those three plays inside Michigan’s 5-yard line.
But the road to Indianapolis won’t get much clearer or cleaner than this. I know: Four games left, good opposing defenses, breaks of the game. But let’s not make any of the remaining opponents out to be something they’re not. Nebraska has a significantly better offense than all of them. A better kicker than all of them. More team speed than all of them. More momentum than all of them.
That MSU and Iowa’s offenses would struggle to pitch coins in a fountain. That Penn State has an immobile quarterback who played poorly at home vs. the Huskers last year. That Minnesota’s quarterback just turned 19. That it’s closing time for Bo and the Blackshirts.
Nebraska went 2-2 to end the regular season last year, keeping it from making a trip to Indianapolis despite a win over the Legends representative, Michigan State.
The Cornhuskers dropped two of their final three games in 2010 in their final season as part of the Big 12.
Will the trend continue this year for Nebraska? Will Michigan State get the nod over the Cornhuskers, who have had problems winning on the road consistently?
If Nebraska sputters in the final four games, will Pelini start to feel some pressure from the Nebraska fans and administrators?

Playing on the road is never easy, especially when you get into conference play.
However, the Golden Gophers are lacking in much of a home-field advantage these days.
Phil Miller, of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, talks about Minnesota’s current issues with filling their stadium.
Only 41,062 tickets were sold to the Gophers' game against Purdue last Saturday, already the smallest crowd in TCF Bank Stadium's four-year history, and it looked like there were several thousand no-shows, too. It's a shame that so many Gopher fans missed the most impressive victory of the season so far.
But Jerry Kill said Tuesday he knows who is to blame for such a dispiriting turnout: He is.
Well, sort of. It's not really his fault that the Gophers don't draw well, but it is his responsibility, he said, for making sure that changes.
"If we continue to win, that place will be packed out and we'll have to build on to it," Kill said at his weekly news conference. "If you don't win, that's the way it is. ... It's our job. It's not our fans -- I'm not going to blame anybody. We've got to put a good product out there. That's what I was hired to do a year and a half ago, and that's what we'll do."
TCF Bank Stadium has a listed capacity of 50,805, which isn’t much for a Big Ten program.
The fact that the Gophers are having troubling filling the stadium is somewhat surprising considering Minnesota is 5-3 this year and just one win away from being bowl eligible for the first time since 2009.
Perhaps last week’s win over Purdue at home will inspire more Gophers fans to get out to TCF Bank Stadium this week.

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