Drama hasn't broken the Huskers

Pelini: 'I'm not coaching to save my job'

Published: November 25 2013 | 2:31 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 12:03 am in
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Nebraska leads the Big Ten in drama.

The on-field drama has actually worked out pretty well. It's the off-field that is Keanu Reeves in "Point Break."

It all started with the leaked audio tape of Nebraska coach Bo Pelini cussing out fans after the Cornhuskers' emotional 2011 win over Ohio State. Pelini steamed about media and fans and draped it in profanity. The tape was leaked just days after the Huskers 41-21 loss to UCLA at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln this season.

The Huskers (8-3, 5-2 Big Ten) host Iowa (7-4, 4-3) Friday with a chance towin nine games for the sixth time in Pelini's six seasons at the school. The tape and the fact that Nebraska hasn't won a conference title in 14 years has made waves. Nebraska athletics director Shawn Eichorst isn't commenting. Pelini said during his Monday news conference that he isn't "coaching to save his job."

"At the end of the day, I want to be here," said Pelini, who's 56-23 as UNL's head coach. "I want to be here if they want me here. If someone doesn't want me here -- and I'm not saying Shawn doesn't -- if they don't want me here, then I'll move on, I'll go on my way.

"Until that day happens, I'm going to do everything I can, everything in my power, to make this the best football team I can. . . . I can say this, I can look myself in the mirror every night and feel good about what I've done for this program."

The Huskers have won four games by a total of 13 points, including last weekend's 23-20 overtime victory at Penn State. That also includes a tipped pass caught for a TD on the final play of the Huskers' 27-24 victory over Northwestern. Since that reception -- No. 3 quarterback Ron Kellogg III to freshman wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp -- the Huskers held on for a win at Michigan (17-13) and were doomed by five turnovers in a Legends Division showdown against Michigan State.

Then last week, kicker Pat Smith, a walk-on senior, made a 42-yarder to lift Nebraska over Penn State. The coach who said Monday he doesn't feel as though he's coaching for his job has a team that could win nine games and has done that without the senior starting QB Taylor Martinez, who's missed seven games with a foot injury and iffy for the Huskers' bowl game.

The Huskers have had several injuries factor into their lineup. Nebraska has started five combinations on the offensive and defensive lines and seven different combos at linebacker.

Pelini said Monday running back Ameer Abdullah, who leads the Big Ten with 1,483 yards, also isn't 100 percent. Abdullah leads the Big Ten in rushes with 231.

"Of course, we want to strive to be a championship bunch," Abdullah said Monday. ". . . We're so close a lot of games. We have to put it together. We've been really consistent and that's one thing we can really hang our hats on. Coach Bo has done a good job at getting the most out of his players."

Meanwhile, a couple of Nebraska players wondered if Friday's game against the Hawkeyes has reached rivalry status. It has been called the Heroes Game and that brought a traveling trophy into it when Nebraska started playing in the Big Ten in 2011.

"We're playing for a trophy, so I guess it is a rivalry," linebacker Michael Rose said. "I think geographically it makes sense. Culturally, as far as the two states, it's kind of similar, kind of a blue-collar ideal. There are a lot of similarities. I don't know what truly constitutes a rivalry, but it's a game on our schedule and we have to be ready to play it. That's all I know."

Nebraska has won five straight in the series and has held Iowa to seven points in the 2011-12 games. Iowa has a 12-28-3 record against the Huskers, hasn't beaten them since 1981 and hasn't won in Lincoln since 1943. The onus clearly is on Iowa here to launch get the Huskers' attention.

"There's a trophy, I guess it's a rivalry. That makes it rivalry, right?" said Kellogg, who'll has replaced Tommy Armstrong at QB after he was injured replacing Martinez. "I didn't know it was a rivalry. So, I'll just assume it's a rivalry for the columns that you guys write. So yeah, it's a rivalry."

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Schedule 2013
DateOpponentResult / Time
8/31vs.WyomingW37 - 34
9/7vs.Southern MissW56 - 13
9/14vs. 16UCLAL21 - 41
9/21vs.South Dakota StateW59 - 20
10/5vs.IllinoisW39 - 19
10/12atPurdueW44 - 7
10/26atMinnesotaL23 - 34
11/2vs.NorthwesternW27 - 24
11/9atMichiganW17 - 13
11/16vs. 14Michigan StateL28 - 41
11/23atPenn StateW23 - 20
11/29vs.Iowa11:00 CT, ABC

Leaders
Passing Yards:T. Armstrong803
Passing TDs:T. Martinez10
Rushing Yards:A. Abdullah1483
Rushing TDs:I. Cross10
Receiving Yards:Q. Enunwa578
Receiving TDs:Q. Enunwa9
Interceptions:C. Evans4

Offense (FBS Rank)
Yards:4766 (44)
Passing Yards:2195 (83)
Rushing Yards:2571 (19)
Points per game:34.0 (34)
Yards per game:433.3 (45)
Touchdowns:44 (37)
Field Goals:11 (66)

Defense (FBS Rank)
Yards:4122 (45)
Passing Yards:2344 (32)
Rushing Yards:1778 (53)
Points per game:24.2 (39)
Yards per game:374.7 (40)
Touchdowns:32 (48)
Field Goals:14 (83)

Schedule 2013
DateOpponentResult / Time
8/31vs.Northern IllinoisL27 - 30
9/7vs.Missouri StateW28 - 14
9/14atIowa StateW27 - 21
9/21vs.Western MichiganW59 - 3
9/28atMinnesotaW23 - 7
10/5vs.Michigan StateL14 - 26
10/19at 4Ohio StateL24 - 34
10/26vs.NorthwesternW17 - 10
11/2vs. 22WisconsinL9 - 28
11/9atPurdueW38 - 14
11/23vs.MichiganW24 - 21
11/29atNebraska11:00 CT, ABC

Leaders
Passing Yards:J. Rudock2155
Passing TDs:J. Rudock16
Rushing Yards:M. Weisman865
Rushing TDs:J. Rudock5
Receiving Yards:K. Martin-Manley324
Receiving TDs:C. Fiedorowicz5
Interceptions:B. Lowery3

Offense (FBS Rank)
Yards:4386 (67)
Passing Yards:2279 (80)
Rushing Yards:2107 (44)
Points per game:26.4 (72)
Yards per game:398.7 (68)
Touchdowns:30 (83)
Field Goals:15 (24)

Defense (FBS Rank)
Yards:3350 (8)
Passing Yards:1990 (9)
Rushing Yards:1360 (16)
Points per game:18.9 (11)
Yards per game:304.5 (8)
Touchdowns:23 (11)
Field Goals:11 (47)

Big Ten
Leaders
ConferenceOverall
3Ohio State7-011-0
14Wisconsin6-19-2
Penn State3-46-5
Indiana2-54-7
Illinois1-64-7
Purdue0-71-10
Legends
ConferenceOverall
11Michigan State7-010-1
Nebraska5-28-3
Iowa4-37-4
Minnesota4-38-3
Michigan3-47-4
Northwestern0-74-7

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