Nebraska Wins Ugly, Punches Ticket to Big Ten Conference Championship

By Brandon Cavanaugh
Reese Strickland – US PRESSWIRE

After a 16-play 75-yard drive that resulted in a 3-0 lead for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Tim Beck’s offense couldn’t get its wheels out of the mud. With the Iowa Hawkeyes clutching onto a 7-3 lead thanks to a rare James Vandenberg sneak, the Blackshirts were getting the job done for the Huskers, but Taylor Martinez and the offense couldn’t buy a break. It was time for a familiar face to step onto the field for the Big Red after finding the nearest phone booth.

Rex Burkhead made his triumphant return with two huge runs, at times literally carrying several members of the Iowa defense with him as he churned ahead for more yardage. He capped a four-play 43-yard drive with the game’s deciding points, cementing his Cornhusker legacy even further.

While the Huskers had early difficulty containing sophomore Iowa running back Mark Weisman, Bo Pelini’s second half adjustments clicked. The rabid dog that is Nebraska defensive end Eric Martin was let off his chain and feasted on the confusion that enveloped his side of the offensive line.

The Huskers’ old habits cropped up due to a pair of fumbles, but the they would rebound and snag a pair of Vandenberg’s passes to kill any promise of more scores by the Hawkeyes.

The second edition of the Heroes Game still has that fresh rivalry smell, but it shows potential for a legitimate feud.

As poorly as Iowa has played all year, they were still a threat to spoil Nebraska’s title hopes. Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, their now-six game losing streak will be hanging above their head until next fall. The addition of Greg Davis did nothing to help. The program may have taken a step back as the result of his work with the offense.

Iowa can ruminate on what changes need to be made. Its season is mercifully over.

For Nebraska, its trip to Iowa City resulted in an ugly win, but the victory means that the Huskers are headed to Indianapolis.

Forget the trophy. Nebraska will happily take its Legends division title back to Lincoln and prepare for a rematch with the Wisconsin Badgers and the opportunity for not only their first Big Ten title, but their first conference title of any kind since MySpace became a part of daily Internet life.

Brandon Cavanaugh is a college football columnist for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter and join in on the conversation.

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