ARTICLE

Drama hasn't broken the Huskers

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

Oct 26, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Bo Pelini takes his hat off and looks on during the
Oct 26, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Bo Pelini takes his hat off and looks on during the second half against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium. The Gophers won 34-23. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

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 to win 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."

_________________________

Schedule 2013
Date Opponent Result / Time
8/31 vs. Wyoming 37 - 34
9/7 vs. Southern Miss 56 - 13
9/14 vs. 16 UCLA 21 - 41
9/21 vs. South Dakota State 59 - 20
10/5 vs. Illinois 39 - 19
10/12 at Purdue 44 - 7
10/26 at Minnesota 23 - 34
11/2 vs. Northwestern 27 - 24
11/9 at Michigan 17 - 13
11/16 vs. 14 Michigan State 28 - 41
11/23 at Penn State 23 - 20
11/29 vs. Iowa 11:00 CT, ABC

Leaders
Passing Yards: T. Armstrong 803
Passing TDs: T. Martinez 10
Rushing Yards: A. Abdullah 1483
Rushing TDs: I. Cross 10
Receiving Yards: Q. Enunwa 578
Receiving TDs: Q. Enunwa 9
Interceptions: C. Evans 4

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
Date Opponent Result / Time
8/31 vs. Northern Illinois 27 - 30
9/7 vs. Missouri State 28 - 14
9/14 at Iowa State 27 - 21
9/21 vs. Western Michigan 59 - 3
9/28 at Minnesota 23 - 7
10/5 vs. Michigan State 14 - 26
10/19 at 4 Ohio State 24 - 34
10/26 vs. Northwestern 17 - 10
11/2 vs. 22 Wisconsin 9 - 28
11/9 at Purdue 38 - 14
11/23 vs. Michigan 24 - 21
11/29 at Nebraska 11:00 CT, ABC

Leaders
Passing Yards: J. Rudock 2155
Passing TDs: J. Rudock 16
Rushing Yards: M. Weisman 865
Rushing TDs: J. Rudock 5
Receiving Yards: K. Martin-Manley 324
Receiving TDs: C. Fiedorowicz 5
Interceptions: B. Lowery 3

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
Conference Overall
Ohio State 7-0 11-0
14 Wisconsin 6-1 9-2
Penn State 3-4 6-5
Indiana 2-5 4-7
Illinois 1-6 4-7
Purdue 0-7 1-10
Legends
Conference Overall
11 Michigan State 7-0 10-1
Nebraska 5-2 8-3
Iowa 4-3 7-4
Minnesota 4-3 8-3
Michigan 3-4 7-4
Northwestern 0-7 4-7

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.