The Nebraska Cornhuskers came up with a big win this past Saturday when they crushed the Minnesota Gophers 41-14. It was a team effort with just about everyone aside from special teams playing some of their best football of the year and, as such, there is a lot of praise to go around for all the players.
That being said, as usual, there were three players or so guys on the Husker roster who were absolutely instrumental to this game being won in as dominant fashion as it was. They may not have the snazziest numbers or they may not have made a legitimate impact for the entire game, but at one point or another, they left their stamp on Saturday’s outing.
Here are the three players most responsible for the ease with which Nebraska dominated the opposition this past weekend:
Kenny Bell – Doing something historic is a good way to get yourself dubbed as one of the keys to your team’s victory, and that’s precisely what Bell did. Catching a pitch on a reverse, Bell faked out the defense and took the ball down the field for an 82-yard touchdown. He not only showcased his speed and elusiveness on the play, he also put his team ahead 17-0 at the beginning of the second quarter in a move that essentially choked the life out from the Gophers.
In terms of historical relevance, Bell accomplished two feats. One, he came up with the longest touchdown in freshman history. And two, he put up the longest run by any Husker since the 2004 season. Needless to say, it was a good day for the Nebraska speedster.
Rex Burkhead – There is a certain formula for success that the Nebraska offense has, and one of the key components of that formula is Burkhead having a big game. Aside from the team’s wins versus the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Mocs in Week 1 and their victory over the Fresno State Bulldogs in Week 2, there hasn’t been a single game this year when the Huskers’ running back hasn’t been absolutely instrumental in leading the offense’s charge – even when he’s the only player doing it.
On Saturday Burkhead put forth another stellar effort with 117 yards and a touchdown for the game. His touchdown was particularly timely because it came with less than a minute remaining in the first half, and it more or less deflated any hopes the Gophers may have had of getting the ball back and doing some damage going into halftime.
The only noticeable flaw in Burkhead’s performance on Saturday was the fact that he put up a 4.7 yard per carry average for the game, a total below his 5.9 yard per carry average going in.
Austin Cassidy – The Nebraska defense has gotten a bad rep this year, and deservedly so. That being said, one of the key plays of the game for the Huskers came about six minutes into the second quarter when Cassidy was able to capitalize off a bad mistake by Minnesota quarterback, MarQueis Gray.
Gray, while trying desperately to make something, anything happen, accidentally fumbled the ball away at his own 20-yard line. Cassidy, showing an undeniably impressive nose for the ball, scooped the pigskin up and took it back to the house for a score.
The touchdown put the Huskers up 27-0 going into halftime and was without a doubt the defensive marquee play of the game.