What is Dispatches from Blogfrica? Pretty simple: I ask questions of an blogger for an opposing team; he answers. A truly revolutionary idea, no? This week: the crew at Corn Nation, SB Nation's excellent blog for all things Nebraska.
1) So I suspect that this is still a fairly one-sided rivalry at the moment, with Iowa fans being more invested in it than Nebraska fans. Is that accurate? How much would an Iowa win on Friday change that dynamic?
COBBY: ARE YOU KIDDING? I LOVE INVESTING AND WITH MY NEW JOB, I’VE GOT TONS OF CASH TO SPEND. HOW DO YOU EXPECT ME TO SPEND MY QUALITY TIME BOOZING IT UP WITH THE WOMEN? I CAN’T AFFORD DOING THAT ON A PAUPERS SALARY LIKE MOST HAWKEYE FANS MAKE. AS FAR AS FRIDAY IS CONCERNED? I DON’T SEE HOW IOWA WINNING WILL CHANGE A PERSON’S MINDSET ON INVESTING.
Husker Mike: Husker fans have traditionally brushed off any talks about Iowa being a serious rival. The best decade of Iowa football in a half century was essentially the same as Nebraska’s worst. Yeah, Iowa earned two BCS bowl bids, but Nebraska’s one was to the bowl that Iowa most covets - and hasn’t been to since before this group of players were born. To Husker fans, Iowa fans are pretty much cut from the same cloth as Colorado fans. An Iowa win just increases the volume.
Aaron: Don’t mind Cobby, he tries to entertain us over at CornNation. I think Husker Mike is right about the pre-Big Ten era for Nebraska fans. We did brush off Iowa as a little brother that we never played. But there are a lot of fans that are now interested in the Iowa game. Me being one of them. The Hawkeyes had some good years right before we joined the conference and the game became intriguing. Don’t get me wrong, I think the "Heroes Game/Trophy" is kinda dumb, but I want to see Iowa on our schedule that last weekend. Part of me wants you guys to win this weekend so we can really give this "rivalry" some juice. (That and I want to drop to the BWW bowl to play Oklahoma or Texas.) There’s no one else in the Big Ten I want to see as our "rival" and if we’re gonna make this thing work out in the long run Iowa is gonna have to win one. What better way to start than this Friday.
Jon Johnston: Nebraska fans are pretty reluctant to call anyone rivals other than Oklahoma. This despite the fact that the rivalry between Nebraska and Oklahoma died when the Big 12 was formed, I guess you could say that we really are living in the past. Maybe it has something to do with your black and gold colors - you know, the old connection with Missouri and Colorado, both teams who wanted to be declared "rivals" but never earned that from most Nebraska fans. As far as a win going forward to make it more of a rivalry - I’d say no, we’re too damned stubborn for that.
2) So who's going to be Nebraska's QB on Friday? Ron Kellogg III seemed to get almost every snap against Penn State, but Tommy Armstrong Jr. played a lot in the games prior to PSU. Is Kellogg the man now or is there still some uncertainty at QB? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each QB?
COBBY: UGH, STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES. I HATE THESE QUESTIONS. IT ALL STARTED WHEN I WAS FIVE. YOU SEE, MY KINDERGARTEN TEACHER TRIED TO ENCOURAGE MY STRENGTHS. "I’M A SCRAWNY LITTLE KINDERGARTNER," I WOULD TELL HER, BUT SHE DIDN’T SEEM TO LISTEN. WELL I LIKED TO EAT KELLOGG’S BRAND CEREAL LIKE FRUIT LOOPS AND FROSTED FLAKES. BESIDES GIVING ME SUGAR HIGHS, IT ENCOURAGED ME TO BE LIKE TONY THE TIGER. SO, I WANTED TO GET MY ARMSTRONG JUST LIKE HIM AND I STARTED LIFTING STUFF LIKE CRAYONS AND TOY BLOCKS AND DOING PUSH UPS WITH LETTER PEOPLE ON MY BACK. I THOUGHT I WAS BECOMING "THE MAN" AT THE TIME. THE GIRLS LIKED ME AND I WAS GETTING ALL BUFF AND STUFF, BUT SOMETHING WAS MISSING. BACK THEN I LIVED IN MINNESOTA AND THE KIDS ALL WORE GOPHER SWEATSHIRTS AND STUFF. I THINK THE MAROON AND GOLD DEPRESSED ME BECAUSE AFTER MY DAD GOT A JOB IN LINCOLN, I STARTED FEELING A LOT BETTER. BUT YEA, FRUIT LOOPS ARE MY WEAKNESS, I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT ‘EM. OH, THAT AND LIVING IN MINNESOTA.
Aaron: I actually thought that Tommy got benched in the PSU game. Ron came in and seemed to play a bit better so Bo stuck with him, or so I thought. I didn't’ hear about the whole ankle injury thing until after the game. Kellogg is perceived as the better thrower while Armstrong the better runner. As far as who starts on Friday? If Armstrong is healthy, you’ll probably see him start, but you’ll also get Kellogg at some point in the game.
Jon: It sounds like Armstrong may be out due to an ankle injury suffered at Penn State. That would leave RK3 as the starter and redshirt freshman walk-on Ryker Fyfe as the backup. TA2 is shiftier, runs the option fairly well, and while RK3 seems to have a better overall command of the offense, he isn’t as much a threat to run. As in, he’s not much of a threat to run at all.
3) Ameer Abdullah has kind of taken the Big Ten by storm this year, leading the league with 1483 yards on the ground. How much of a surprise has his emergence been? What other offensive weapons should Iowa fans be wary of on Friday?
COBBY: IF I WAS AN IOWA FAN, I’D BE WARY OF A STORM ON THE GROUND TOO. HERE IN NEBRASKA, WE CALL THOSE TORNADOES. I GUESS IN IOWA, THEY ARE CALLED "CYCLONES". GOTTA BE DIFFERENT THAN EVERYONE ELSE IN THE LEAGUE DON’TCHA IOWA. EVERYONE KNOWS THAT A CYCLONE IS A STUPID RED BIRD IN A LITTLE WHIRLY POOL THINGY, NOT A STORM ON THE GROUND. TAKE IT FROM ME. NEBRASKANS KNOW THIS STUFF. N IS FOR NOWLEDGE RIGHT? A TORNADO IS A GOOD WAY TO DESCRIBE AMEER, THOUGH. HE LIKES TO SPIN AROUND A LOT WHEN RUNNING. OF COURSE SOMETIMES WHEN HE IS RUNNING WITH THE BALL, HE ACTUALLY ROTATES IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION OF THE EARTH BECAUSE OF WHERE THE WOULD-BE TACKLER IS. WHEN HE DOES THAT, I SUPPOSE WE’LL CALL HIM AN "ANTI-" CYCLONE.
Ty: Personally, Ameer wasn’t a huge surprise. His total production was a bit of a surprise, but he was fantastic last year stepping in when Rex was injured. He averaged 5.0 a carry last year and had 1,137 yards as a de facto back up. It’s been a bigger surprise that he’s managed to produce behind a banged-up and patchwork O-line. Being from just outside of Boulder, CO myself, I always think that Kenny Bell should be a threat, and his kickoff return touchdown proved that. We’re actually very deep at receiver, and RK3 can get the ball to those guys.
Jon: Offensive weapons…. Ty mentions the receivers, and we do have a number of them who can be playmakers, it’s a matter of who isn’t injured enough to play. Jamal Turner should have been more of a factor this season, but has barely played. Quincy Enunwa is the big physical possession guy. Alonzo Moore is probably the best all-around receiver. Jordan Westerkamp has really good hands. Sam Burtch has come out of nowhere. Now - who’s going to play? I have no idea.
4) After getting gutted like a fish in September, the defense has been pretty respectable of late. What was behind that turnaround? Young players getting more experience? Changes in the starting lineup? Different tactics by the coaches? Or something else entirely?
COBBY: AFTER ONE OF MY DRINKING ESCAPADES IN COLLEGE, I WOKE UP IN A WAREHOUSE IN SOME FOREIGN LAND WHERE PEOPLE WERE GUTTING FISH. THERE WAS A LOT OF HEAD CHOPPING AND SPINAL RIPPING. IT REMINDED ME OF WHEN MY HAWKEYE BUDDY WOULD KICK MY ASS IN MORTAL COMBAT WITH SUB-ZERO AND WOULD USE HIS FINISHING MOVE ON ME. I HATED THAT GAME. ANYWAY, IN THIS COUNTRY, FISH "PROCESSING" WAS CONSIDERED A RESPECTABLE JOB IF YOU HAD TO DEFEND YOURSELF AGAINST SOMEONE THAT THOUGHT YOU WERE JUST A PEON. THEY THREW ME IN WITH THE YOUNG PLAYERS THAT DAY SO I GOT A LOT OF EXPERIENCE AND LEARNED A LOT OF NEW TACTICS FROM THE COACHES. WHEN 5 O’CLOCK ROLLED AROUND, EVERYONE PACKED UP TO LEAVE. WHEN I OPENED THE DOOR TO THE REAL WORLD, I REALIZED I WAS IN COUNCIL BLUFFS. I GUESS I KNOW HOW OMAHA CAN SUPPORT ALL THESE DAMN SUSHI BARS THAT HAVE POPPED UP THE PAST FEW YEARS. GOTTA LOVE THE MISSOURI RIVER.
Husker Mike: Nebraska has nine freshman on the two deep on the defensive line and at linebacker. They literally got spooked in the third quarter against UCLA and got absolutely torched. But in October, they started to gain some confidence and are starting to play pretty well. Part of it is finally settling on Michael Rose at middle linebacker.
5) So... Pelini. What are the odds he's still coaching Nebraska when the 2014 season kicks off next fall? How much does that decision hinge on what happens in the Iowa game and/or Nebraska's bowl game? Do you WANT Pelini to return in 2014 or are you ready to turn the page and break in a new head coach?
COBBY: WHEN I WAS HELPING MOSES LEAD THE ISRAELITES ACROSS THE WILDERNESS TOWARDS THE PROMISED LAND, IT WAS VERY BORING. I MEAN, WE SPENT 40 YEARS JUST WANDERING AIMLESSLY. WE DID A LOT OF GAMBLING TO PASS THE TIME AND I WAS THE ODDS MAKER. I GUESS THEY THOUGHT I WAS PRETTY GOOD AT IT. WE WOULD BET ON THINGS LIKE WHICH COW THE BADGER FAN WOULD CUDDLE UP WITH THAT NIGHT, WHO WINS THE MIDDLE SCHOOL BATTLE-ROYAL-STICK-AND-STONE FIGHT, AND HOW MANY OF THOSE LIGHTS THAT WERE STUCK UP IN THE SKY WOULD FALL DOWN IN AN HOUR. GOD LOVED TO GAMBLE WITH US TOO, BUT HE ALWAYS SEEMED TO WIN. AND YOU CAN’T NOT TAKE GODS BET. HE’LL SMITE YOU OR SOMETHING IF YOU DON’T. I FELT LIKE HE KNEW WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN OR SOMETHING. HE WON SO MANY SHEEP AND PIGS AND MANA OFF OF US THAT HE REFUSED TO MAKE A COMMANDMENT BANNING GAMBLING, SOMETHING LIKE "THOU SHALT NOT GAMBLE THINE SHEKELS ON SILLY-ITH GAMES." WHICH LEADS US TO TODAY. AS AN ODDS MAKER, I WOULD GIVE PELINI 3-1 THAT HE IS STAYING FOR NEXT SEASON. OR WAS THAT 1-3? I CAN’T EVER REMEMBER HOW THAT WORKS, BUT I DO FIND IT FUNNY THAT IOWA AND WISCONSIN PLAY FOR A BRONZE COW TO WORSHIP. I GUESS SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE.
Aaron: To me, Pelini has become that girlfriend you dated for 2-3 years. You’ve had your ups and your downs. She’s alright and you could see yourself with her for awhile, but it’s not ver wow. At some point you’ll probably want to move on. If Pelini is here next year, great. If not, I’m ready to handle the break up and move on. Do I think he’ll be back? There has been quite a bit of sneaking around this season. People that don’t like Pelini are trying to dig stuff up and start rumors to get him out. I think it’s more than likely that he is back next year, but he is definitely facing some heat. We’re Husker fans. *sigh* OMGNATIONALTITLEORFIREEVERYONEQQQQQQQQQ
Husker Mike: I think it’s more than likely he’s back in 2014. Considering all of the injuries on offense (13 players on the offensive two-deep have missed significant play time over the last two months), Nebraska’s actually played better than you would otherwise think. So yes, I think Pelini should absolutely return in 2014; I’m a "Bo-liever" in the turnaround on defense. The "X" factor on whether he returns is how his superiors feel: Chancellor Harvey Perlman doesn’t appear to be a big Pelini supporter, and athletic director Shawn Eichorst is an unknown enigma.
6) OK, prediction time -- who ya got?
COBBY: YOU DIDN’T LEAVE ME WITH A WHOLE LOT TO GO ON FOR THIS QUESTION. IF I LISTED ALL THE CHICKS I GOT, YOUR READERS WOULD GET BORED. INSTEAD, I’M GOING TO TELL YOU AND OLD STORY AT NEBRASKA INVOLVING THE PILLARS IN BETWEEN MEMORIAL STADIUM AND THE COLISEUM. THE LEGEND WAS, IF ANY GIRL SHOULD EVER GO THROUGH COLLEGE WITHOUT A KISS, THOSE PILLARS WOULD FALL DOWN. WELL, I DID MY PART WHILE I WAS THERE TO MAKE SURE THOSE PILLARS STOOD THE TEST OF TIME. THERE WAS EVEN THIS ONE CHICK THAT WE NICKNAMED SASQUATCH FOR REASONS YOU CAN PROBABLY FIGURE OUT. IT’S NOT HARD FOR YOU IOWA FANS TO PREDICT WHAT HAPPENED THERE. THE PILLARS ARE STILL STANDING AFTER ALL.
Aaron: I’m going to go with Iowa on Friday. I think we’ll see a really good close game and Nebraska can’t win all the close ones. Besides, as I listed above, I kind of want Iowa to win this one. Iowa 24, Nebraska 21
Jon: What the hell… we have a guy writing for us who not only predicts you guys to win, but wants it to happen? We have another guy on our site that’s created "Iowa Love Week"? Obviously we’ve all lost it over here (assuming we had it in the first place). Maybe it’s that we’re not playing for a division title. Maybe it’s that we’re too busy discussing Bo Pelini’s job status this week instead of hating you sunsabitches. I know one thing. My liver hates this season and it’s going to hate it even more were we to lose this game. Minnesota hadn’t beaten us since 1640. Y’all haven’t beaten us since 1981. Who am I to blow against the wind? Iowa 21, Nebraska 20
Thanks for being a good sport,gents, although I still hope your team loses by 50 on Friday. You can check out Cobby, Aaron, Husker Mike, and Jon and the rest of the CN crew at Corn Nation. You can also follow Husker Mike on Twitter at @Husker_Mike Jon Johnston on Twitter at @CornNation and Corn Nation on Twitter at @CornNation. The Iowa-Nebraska game is in Lincoln on Friday, November 29, and is scheduled to start at 11:00 am CT, with television coverage from ABC.