Associated Press

A: 1957 Q: Before today, when was the last time Nebraska started 0-2?

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It hasn’t exactly been the start to the season either Nebraska or its fans anticipated.

After guiding UCF to an undefeated season and national championship, Scott Frost, the former Nebraska quarterback, came home to the Cornhuskers in what many hoped would be a triumphant return to Lincoln.  Disappointment reigned Frost’s highly-anticipated coaching debut in Lincoln was scuttled because of weather; Colorado knocked off Nebraska in Week 2, again in Lincoln, with a touchdown with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter.

Week 3 got exponentially worse as, with starting quarterback Adrian Martinez sidelined due to injury, Troy came into Memorial Stadium as a decided underdog but will head back to Alabama with a 24-19 win.  The Trojans jumped out to a 17-0 lead and led 17-7 at halftime before holding off the comeback-minded but still-winless Cornhuskers.

The last time Nebraska started a season 0-2 was way, way, way back in 1957.  That year’s squad finished 1-9, the worst record in the storied program’s history.

Troy, meanwhile, scored its second Power Five upset in as many years. Last year, Neal Brown‘s squad went into Death Valley and knocked off LSU, ending the Tigers’ 49-game home non-conference winning streak.

Replacing the injured Martinez, Andrew Bunch, a sophomore walk-on, completed 19-of-27 passes for 177 yards and a pair of touchdowns, although he did have two costly interceptions as well.  The last of those picks came with just over two minutes remaining and extinguished any hope of a comeback after Troy ran for a first down on third-and-three; his first came as NU was marching close to field-goal range.

The Cornhuskers actually outgained the defending Sun Belt Conference champions, 364-253, while they led in first downs 22-12 as well.  A 58-yard punt return for a touchdown early in the second quarter by the Trojans’ Cedarius Rookard helped negate a chunk of that offensive advantage.

Nebraska, which has now lost six straight overall in the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium, will head out on the road for the first time next Saturday as a trip to the Big House to face No. 19 Michigan looms in Week 4.

Boise State’s pummeling of New Mexico sets up MWC Mountain showdown with Utah State in Week 13

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Utah State came into Week 12 with a chance to clinch its division in the Mountain West.  Instead, the stage is set for a winner-take-all tilt in Week 13.

Boise State entered its game Friday night as a three-touchdown favorite over New Mexico.  Exiting Albuquerque, the Broncos had cruised to an easier-than-it-looked 45-14 win over the overmatched Lobos (3-8, 1-6).  Brett Rypien threw for three touchdowns in the win, with all three going to Sean Modster to set the receiver’s career high.  The first two came in the first quarter as the Broncos jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead, while the third early in the third quarter gave Boise a 31-7 lead and essentially put the game away.

Modster also finished with a career-high nine receptions for 129 yards.

No. 25 Boise State is now 6-1 in Mountain West play, a half-game behind West division leader and 23rd-ranked Utah State (6-0).  The two teams will square off next Saturday night on the Blue Turf of Boise, with the winner taking the division crown and a spot in the conference championship game.  USU faces Colorado State Saturday afternoon, although that game will have no effect on the divisional race as the third-place teams in the West, Wyoming, Air Force and CSU, are all at 2-4.

Fresno State can clinch the MWC West by beating San Diego State later today, although a loss would open the divisional door for both SDSU and Nevada.

Mike Riley came off Nebraska’s books with $6.2 million buyout in January

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It was thought that Nebraska had been paying three current/former head coaches throughout the 2018 season.  Instead, it was just two.

When Mike Riley was fired by the Cornhuskers in late November of last year, he was owed a buyout of just over $6.6 million that was to be paid in monthly installments of nearly $166,000 through February of 2021.  However, Nebraska officials confirmed this week, the university paid Riley a $6.2 million buyout in January of this year that wiped the former coach off NU’s books.

Riley took a job at Oregon State shortly after his dismissal by Nebraska, with his $50,000 salary very slightly mitigating his buyout number.

“We went ahead and absorbed it [earlier this] year to get it behind us, and we felt that we had a good enough year revenue-wise that we could handle that,” athletic director Bill Moos said by way of the Lincoln Journal Star. “Those things, for the most part, are behind us, and we’re moving forward at this point.”

Bo Pelini, fired by the Cornhuskers in November of 2014, is being paid nearly $130,000 every month through February of next year to pay off his $6.54 million buyout.  Riley’s replacement, Scott Frost, is in the first year of a seven-year, $35 million contract.

After Week 12 results, Houston-Memphis to decide AAC West

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It wasn’t pretty, but it did the job.

Coming out of a first half that was at times head-scratching… and odd… and downright weird with a 7-5 lead on SMU, Memphis put up a touchdown in the third quarter and another two in the fourth to pull away for a 28-18 road win.  Running back Patrick Taylor accounted for two of those second-half touchdowns on nine- and six-yard runs as he finished with a game-high 112 yards, his third 100-yard effort of the season.

The Tigers’ Darrell Henderson, who came into the game second in the nation averaging 8.74 yards per carry, was held to 4.7 yards on his 16 carries.  That was his second-worst yards per carry average of the season, behind only the 3.8 (4-15) put up against Missouri Oct. 20.

The Mustangs had even less success on the ground, rushing for just 25 yards on 26 carries.  Ben Hicks passed for 344 yards, his third 300-yard game in the past four games, in a losing effort.

With the win, Memphis improved to 4-3 in the conference, one game behind Houston, which moved to 5-2 with a win Thursday night, for first place in the AAC West.  Those two teams will square off next Friday, with the winner advancing to the conference championship game and playing either UCF, Cincinnati or Temple. The undefeated Knights hold the edge in the East heading into tonight’s huge matchup with the Bearcats, although a loss would leave all three, including the Owls, in play for the East crown.

Prior to last night’s loss, SMU (4-3) could’ve staked its claim to the West by winning its last two games.  SMU could still finish in a three- or four-way tie for the division, Tulane (4-3) included, although Memphis would win all tiebreakers regardless of how many teams are involved.

Major Applewhite, Ed Oliver issue statements addressing sideline flap

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We can all move on because apparently there’s nothing to see here.

Ed Oliver, who had missed the previous three games because of a knee injury, was sidelined for a fourth Thursday night as Houston squared off with Tulane in a key AAC West matchup.  Shortly before the half, Oliver, who was on the sidelines of the game supporting his teammates, was approached by head Major Applewhite about what was later learned to be the lineman’s choice of jacket, which according to the head coach is reserved for players who are active in the game.

Oliver took exception to Applewhite’s directive — and the fact that the coach put his hands on his jacket — leading to a heated confrontation heading into the halftime locker room in which the star defensive tackle had to be physically restrained from going after Applewhite by a UH football staffer.

After the game, Applewhite explained that “[t]here’s a rule for our team. Everybody follows the rule.”  Friday night, both of the involved parties issued statements through the school in which they stated they’re ready to “move forward together.”

MAJOR APPLEWHITE
“Ed is a passionate human being, and that is why he is the best player in the country. Last night was not indicative of his character and it was a passionate moment within our program. We can, and we will, both learn from this situation as we move forward together.”

ED OLIVER
“Last night is not who I am. I’m very passionate about the game of football and last night there was a misunderstanding. I was caught in an emotional moment. I have the utmost respect for Coach Applewhite and I appreciate the support of Coach Applewhite and my teammates during this time. I love my brothers, my team and my city and I’m looking forward to moving forward with them together. Go Coogs!”

It’s expected that, if healthy, the All-American defensive tackle will play in the regular-season finale next week.