Kenny Bell

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Nebraska restores weight room records following complaints

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A lack of consistency in testing procedures led to a decision by Nebraska to remove weight room records from a screen at the Suh Strength Complex. This was a decision that did not go over well with players, both past and present, but fortunately those records have been restored.

The Nebraska Twittersphere caught wind of the decision to remove the old records courtesy of former Nebraska wide receiver Kenny Bell, now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bell went on a mini-monologue about the Huskers essentially removing history and the memories of those who put in work for the program, including running back Ameer Abdullah (now with the Detroit Lions).

The records in thew weight room were removed because there was a lack of consistency between training and workouts over the years those records were kept and shared. That makes some sense, but it is not as though we are talking about recognizing a running back’s career rushing yards that includes postseason bowl games when the postseason stats for players like Barry Sanders and Herschel Walker are not retroactively included (not to mention those players played at a time when regular seasons were a maximum of 11 games long). These are weight room records. Over time, how a player trains evolves and new workouts and exercises come along that are believed to be more beneficial. That could be a part of the reason for any inconsistency in the weight room.

In any event, the voices were heard and Nebraska has restored the previously removed records in the weight room.

Nebraska special teams comes up with big play for first half cushion

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Nebraska football players may be struggling to stay on the field, but the Huskers are looking to bounce back after a bad loss at Wisconsin to remain in the Big Ten west title hunt. Minnesota is also looking to rebound off a loss to Ohio State, and the Gophers have done well in slowing down the Nebraska running game. But the Huskers own the 21-7 lead at the half, and they have the special teams to thank for padding the lead.

Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah has not had much of an impact on the game so far, looking to be playing at under 100 percent. He did, however, open the scoring with a short touchdown run to finish off a quick five-play, 84-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter. Minnesota responded later in the first quarter when Mitch Leidner picked up a short touchdown run from one yard out to cap a nine-play, 71-yard answer.

Nebraska took a lead on a catch by De’Mornay Pierson-El. Pierson-El caught a pass from Armstrong just shy of the end zone, reached for the goal line and barely got the ball to break the goal line before losing control of the football. Minnesota pounced on the loose ball, but Big Ten officials ruled the touchdown good and instant replay upheld the call on the field.

Minnesota had a chance to cut into the lead later in the second quarter, but a 30-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Nebraska’s Randy Gregory and returned by Nate Gerry for a touchdown. The play turned out to be a 10-point swing and turned a potential four-point game into a 14-point game. Adding to the impact of the play was the fact

Nebraska wide receiver Kenny Bell had to be taken off the field by medical trainers in the first quarter. Bell appeared to leave for a head injury at the end of a 73-yard pass play. Late in the first half, Abdullah needed assistance as well. Given his recent history, the concern has to be pretty high at the half.

Randy Gregory walked off the field with medical trainers late in the first quarter. He did return in the second quarter.

Melvin Gordon already with 238 yards as Badgers lead Huskers, 24-17

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Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon may be well on his way to running all the way to New York City. It probably would not take that long considering how quickly he is capable of racking up yardage. Gordon has already rushed for 238 yards and a touchdown as Wisconsin has taken a 24-17 lead on Nebraska into halftime.

Nebraska got the scoring started with a 32-yard field goal off the leg of Drew Brown just minutes into the game. The field goal came just moments after Wisconsin’s Kenzel Doe lost a fumble at the Wisconsin 29-yard line on the second play from the scrimmage. The Huskers made it 10-0 just minutes later with Kenny Bell catching a 12-yard touchdown pass from Tommy Armstrong.

Two turnovers by Wisconsin led to 10 Nebraska points, but the Badgers have avoided letting that prove to be too costly. At the half, Wisconsin has scored 21 straight points. Quarterback Joel Stave has taken the bulk of the snaps under center, and he has completed six of nine passes for 33 yards and a score. His Nebraska counterpart, Tommy Armstrong, has struggled ina  big way throwing the football. Armstrong has completed just one of 10 pass attempts for 12 yards. Of course, it was good for a touchdown, but Nebraska has to have more on offense.

Nebraska’s own star running back, Ameer Abdullah, has rushed for 61 yards on 12 carries. Armstrong has rushed for 20 yards on 13 running plays as well.

Abdullah runs for 225 yards and 3 TDs as No. 16 Huskers pound Rutgers

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Nebraska and Rutgers playing a Big Ten conference game was weird to see. Watching Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah run wild over an overpowered defense was nothing out of the ordinary though. Abdullah added to his Heisman Trophy profile by rushing for 225 yards and three touchdowns as No. 16 Nebraska (7-1, 3-1 Big Ten) blew away Rutgers (5-3, 1-3 Big Ten) by a final score of 42-24.

Nebraska’s victory over Rutgers was fueled by Abdullah, but he had a supporting cast doing its part as well. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong passed for 163 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Kenny Bell led Nebraska with 63 receiving yards. Abdullah was the story of the game though, turning in the second highest rushing total of his career. Abdullah rushed for a career-high 232 yards in week one of the season against Florida Atlantic. His 225 yards Saturday afternoon tied the second-highest mark of his career.

Rutgers put up a fight early on. A Gary Nova completion over the middle to Leonte Carroo turned a medium gain for a first down into a 71-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7 late in the first quarter. Nebraska responded in a big way by scoring two touchdowns off big runs by Abdullah to take a 21-7 lead into the half. Nebraska would later take a 35-17 lead to the fourth quarter, keeping the visiting Scarlet Knights at arm’s length the rest fo the way.

Nebraska only had three more rushing attempts than Rutgers, but Nebraska averaged 7.1 yards per rushing attempt to the 3.8 averaged by Rutgers. Nebraska also ended the game with 149 more rushing yards. Abdullah rushing for touchdowns from 53, 48 and 23 yards certainly helps inflate those numbers. Abdullah was quite the difference-maker.

Nebraska could very well be the favorite in the Big Ten West Division the rest of the way. Minnesota got a test on the road at Illinois today, but the Gophers remain in first place in the division with an uphill battle to climb the rest of the way. Nebraska will still have to play road games at Wisconsin and Iowa as well as a home game against Minnesota. Wisconsin and Iowa are still in the mix as well. Nebraska has a habit of winning nine games per year lately, so the Huskers are either going to break that trend this season or come stumbling down the finish line to the season in spectacular fashion. As long as Abdullah stays healthy and Nebraska keeps feeding his Heisman campaign, these Huskers could be rolling to the Big Ten championship game with double digits in the win column.

Rutgers is still one win shy of becoming bowl eligible in its first season in the Big Ten. Next is a home game against Wisconsin, with the Badgers coming off a pounding of Maryland in Madison. Rutgers will also host Indiana and finish the season on the road against Michigan State and Maryland. There could very well be a win to be had in there for Rutgers.

CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 21 Nebraska

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2013 record: 9-4 overall, 5-3 in Big Ten (2nd in Legends Division)
2013 postseason: Gator Bowl vs. Georgia (24-19 win)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: Unranked/No. 25
Head coach: Bo Pelini (82-58 overall; 82-58 in 7 years at Nebraska)
Offensive coordinator: Tim Beck (7th season, 4th as offensive coordinator)
2013 offensive rankings: 19th rushing offense ( 215.69 ypg); 97th passing offense (196.7 ypg); 59th total offense (412.4 ypg); 48th scoring offense (31.9 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: 8
Defensive coordinator: John Papuchis (7th season, 4th as defensive coordinator)
2013 defensive rankings: 54th rushing defense (156.08 ypg); 32nd passing defense (214.6 ypg); 39th total defense (370.7 ypg); 49th scoring defense (24.8 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: 7 
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
Stadium: Memorial Stadium (92,000; FieldTurf)
Last conference title: 1999

THE GOOD
Nebraska is going to run the ball, perhaps better than any team in the Big Ten. Not only do the Huskers return Ameer Abdullah, but they also have Imani Cross and Terrell Newby. The three combined for over 2,400 rushing yards in 2013. When Nebraska does want to take to the air though, having Kenny Bell on the verge of rewriting the school record books is a nice luxury to have.

THE BAD
The ball control concerns have plagued Nebraska each of the past two seasons. Nebraska has lost 38 fumbles the last two seasons, which is incredible when you consider Nebraska has played 27 games in that span. That is almost one and a half fumbles lost per game, nevermind how many fumbles Nebraska has had but recovered.

THE UNKOWN
Nebraska may have position players on offense in pretty good shape, but the offensive line is hitting a reset button this fall. That does not mean it will be shaky, but it does suggest there is going to be some time needed before the unit really starts to gel. How much time will that take? The line will have some upperclassmen on the line but the experience is thin at best. It is worth having some concern about for Nebraska fans, but the Huskers have a pretty good track record when it comes to linemen. The faster the line can come together, the better for Nebraska, obviously. Games against Miami and Michigan State will be difficult hurdles if the offensive line is not together.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: at Michigan State
Nebraska is going to get what could be an entertaining home game against Miami form the ACC in September, but the true measuring stick for the Huskers will come in the first weekend of October. That is when Nebraska heads to East Lansing to take on the defending Big Ten champions, Michigan State. The Huskers may very well return home with a loss in that game, but how they perform against that caliber of defense could be an indicator for what to expect for the rest of the season. After Michigan State the Huskers get a bye week to spend some time learning and reviewing what has worked and what has not to that point. The Michigan State game could give some positive signs for the second half of the season or it could set up what could be a rough two months ahead in Lincoln.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: RB Ameer Abdullah
This one is easy. Running back Ameer Abdullah is considered one of the best in the Big Ten (along with Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin) and the nation. Last year Abdullah led the Big Ten in rushing with 1,690 rushing yards but he entered the endzone just nine times. That could very well change a bit in 2014 as Abdullah takes on even more of a workload, if you can believe that. With the quarterback situation in a bit of a transition, Abdullah should be counted on time and time again to lead the offense. Fortunately, this is something he should be able to handle more often than not.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)