Dienhart: Nebraska 2011 Season Recap
BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart spent the season covering Big Ten football, and now it’s time for his team-by-team season recaps. Every day, Dienhart will post a recap for each Big Ten school, in alphabetical order. Look back at all the previous ones. Up next: Nebraska. Watch our video from the Huskers’ impressive win over eventual Legends Division champ Michigan State now and read Dienhart’s season recap in this post.
Record: 9-3 overall; 5-3 Big Ten
Bowl: Capital One vs. South Carolina
Season recap: The Cornhuskers’ maiden voyage was a success on most accounts, but there’s a gnawing feeling that Nebraska could have won the Legends Division. But a spotty defense and streaky passing game held back the Huskers. Nebraska ranked just seventh in total defense in the Big Ten (350.7 ypg) and 10th in passing (166.6 ypg). Where were the big plays? No school had fewer tackles for loss and only one had fewer sacks. Still, Nebraska is playing in a good bowl and has a bright future with QB Taylor Martinez back in 2012.
High point: A 21-point second-half rally in a 34-27 home win over Ohio State was sweet. But Nebraska was at its best in a 24-3 domination of then-No. 9 Michigan State, the Spartans’ lone Big Ten loss. The Huskers allowed just 187 yards. The win moved Nebraska into a tie for first in the Legends with MSU.
Low point: Getting hammered on the road by Wisconsin (48-17) and Michigan (45-17). Losing at home to 17-point underdog Northwestern (28-25) is another. It shouldn’t have happened and probably cost the Cornhuskers a shot at winning the Legends. The Huskers, who allowed 468 yards, had no answer for backup Wildcat quarterback Kain Colter.
Offensive MVP: RB Rex Burkhead. The rough-and-tumble Burkhead was the driving force of an offense that struggled at times to pass. Burkhead finished third in the Big Ten in rushing (1,268 yards) and ran for 15 scores.
Defensive MVP: LB Lavonte David. He’s arguably the best linebacker in the Big Ten, ranking third in the league in tackles. David is all over the field, making plays from sideline to sideline with a knack that ranks among the best in school history.
Tom Dienhart is a senior writer for BTN.com. Find all of his work at www.btn.com/tomdienhart, follow Dienhart on Twitter at @BTNTomDienhart, send a question to his weekly mailbag here, and click here to subscribe to his RSS feed.