Nebraska Minnesota Football

Minnesota running back Kobe McCrary (22) rushes for a touchdown after breaking a tackle by Nebraska defensive back Antonio Reed (25). The Golden Gophers rushed for 409 yards in their 54-21 victory over the Cornhuskers.

AP

The wheels have really come off for the Nebraska football program, haven’t they?

The only question now seems to be whether or not the school will wait until the end of the season to fire head coach Mike Riley.

And it probably also will fire its excuse-making defensive coordinator.

Last week DC Bob Diaco, a former Iowa player, complained that Nebraska defensive players were having trouble bringing down opposing ballcarriers because they previously were taught to use the rugby style of tackling popularized by the Seattle Seahawks. Diaco hates it.

His predecessor as the Cornhuskers’ defensive coordinator, Mark Banker, had a response: “He’s full of it. He’s making excuses.’’

True. Diaco has been on the job since last spring. If he didn’t like the way his players were tackling, he’s had plenty of time to correct it.

The Huskers continued to have trouble tackling anyone on Saturday as they gave up 409 yards rushing in a 54-21 loss to a Minnesota team that had lost five of its previous six games and scored 10 points in each of the two previous games.

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So, Iowa went from scoring 55 points against Ohio State to gaining 66 total yards against Wisconsin? That, combined with the fact that Ohio State turned around and throttled a pretty good Michigan State team 48-3, has led many to think that the Hawkeyes’ rout of the Buckeyes a week ago Saturday was a total fluke.

And, well, they’re probably right.

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After being ranked in the Associated Press poll last week, the Hawkeyes are back to looking like they’ll go to the Pinstripe Bowl or the Foster Farms Bowl. But at least they’re going to some sort of bowl. That’s more than Nebraska is going to do.

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Before the season, no one I know seriously thought Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson was going to be an All-Big Ten caliber player. Now he’s going to be an All-American. Getting five interceptions in back-to-back games against top-10 teams and returning two of them for touchdowns will do that for you.

Jackson now is up to No. 22 in the rankings of NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper, which means he is unlikely to return to Iowa for his senior season.

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At one point in ABC’s broadcast of the Iowa State-Oklahoma State game Saturday, analyst Tommy Tuberville noted that ISU needed a big play.

“Otherwise, it’s going to be a long day for the Hawkeyes,’’ he added.

Do TV guys ever correct themselves when they make a mistake like that? Tuberville sure didn’t.

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Some are ripping Bears coach John Fox for challenging a play in the second quarter Sunday against Green Bay that turned a potential touchdown into a touchback.

Benny Cunningham had taken off on a long run and dove to get the ball over the goal line. The officials ruled he went out of bounds at the 2-yard line so Fox threw his little red flag.

The replay showed Cunningham didn’t go out of bounds but he lost control of the ball before it hit the pylon. Not only didn’t he score but the ball went over to the Packers.

In truth, 90 percent of NFL coaches would have done the same thing Fox did in that situation. It’s not a reason to get rid of the guy.

Besides, there are plenty of other reasons.

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Yes, former Iowa star Adrian Clayborn really did record six quarterback sacks Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.

To put this into perspective, Clayborn had only two sacks previously this season and only eight total tackles. He had only 4.5 sacks all of last season, 3 the year before that, none the year before that.

His half dozen are only one short of the NFL record set in 1990 by Kansas City’s Derrick Thomas. Clayborn is the fourth player to get six, the first since Osi Umenyiora did it in 2007.

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