Ya have to wonder: Was this the worst defensive coaching job of the Bo Pelini era?Everything the Wisconsin offense tried, worked, and the Huskers could not adjust to any of it as the Badgers rolled to a 70-31 win Saturday night in the Big Ten Championship Game at Indianapolis.
e Wisconsin outflanked Nebraska on the edges, and once that happened, the Huskers were helpless against the Badgers' power running. The Blackshirts solved nothing all night long and allowed Wisconsin to roll to a third consecutive trip to the Rose Bowl.
I could foresee NU having some problems with Wisconsin's inside running game, since Baker Steinkuhler was out with an injury. Steinkuhler, who has had an up-and-down career, was finally playing the best football of his career at the end of his senior season.
But the way Nebraska surrendered huge chunks of yards on identical jet sweeps – over and over again – was criminal.
Either Steinkuhler is the best Husker defensive lineman of all time, or Bo Pelini, John Papuchis and the Blackshirts simply were not ready for the Badger running game. The fifth-year seniors that fill the defensive roster were thoroughly outplayed by a relatively young Wisconsin team.
So many problems, so little time to discuss them. Here are the first three that stood out:
1. This was a colossal collapse of leadership by a bunch of Husker seniors who did a fine job recovering from a midseason meltdown at Columbus, Ohio.
2. Where were Rex Burkhead and Ameer Abdullah in the first half? Completely under-utilized, that's where.
3. The variety of offensive sets – including unbalanced lines, wildcat action and even the old swinging gate – seemed to discombobulate the Husker defenders and their coaches. They started playing tentatively, with disastrous results.
Tad Stryker is the former sports editor of the North Platte Bulletin and provides analysis after each Husker football game for Bulletin readers. Stryker also writes for HuskerMax. (http://www.huskermax.com).