Nebraska earns spot in Big Ten title game
Winning five straight games, mostly without him, didn't mean Nebraska doesn't need Rex Burkhead. On a cold and blustery afternoon with a...
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Winning five straight games, mostly without him, didn't mean Nebraska doesn't need Rex Burkhead.
On a cold and blustery afternoon with a spot in the Big Ten title game on the line, Burkhead proved why he's so valuable to the Huskers.
Burkhead scored the go-ahead touchdown in his return from a knee injury and No. 17 Nebraska beat Iowa 13-7 on Friday to claim the Legends Division's berth in the championship game.
The Huskers (10-2, 7-1 Big Ten) will face off against Wisconsin next Saturday in Indianapolis after winning six straight.
It'll be a rematch of Nebraska's thrilling 30-27 home win over the Badgers in late September.
"I remember after Ohio State, I said what we needed to do, and you all looked at me like I was a crazy man. I probably thought I was a crazy man that night. I believe in this team. Honestly, I'm proud of those kids in that locker room," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said.
Burkhead had to be at the top of Pelini's list.
Burkhead, making his first appearance since aggravating a sprained left knee on Oct. 20 against Northwestern, broke through with a 3-yard TD run to make it 13-7 late in the third quarter. He rushed for 69 yards, all in the second half.
Alonzo Whaley's interception with 2:11 left sealed the victory for Nebraska.
The Huskers defense held the Hawkeyes (4-8, 2-6) scoreless in the final three quarters in windy conditions.
Mark Weisman had 91 yards rushing for Iowa, which finished the season on a six-game losing streak. The Hawkeyes will miss out on a bowl game for just the second time since 2000.
"Nobody's happy about where we're at," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "We fully realize we have a lot of work to do right now."
Nebraska's offense spent much of the day stifled by a stiff wind that gusted up to 40 mph and a surprisingly stout Iowa defense.
Fittingly, quarterback Taylor Martinez and Burkhead teamed up to put the Huskers ahead.
Martinez beat quadruple coverage for an 18-yard completion to Braylon Heard, an impressive hookup considering the conditions. Burkhead was in the end zone a few plays later to give Nebraska a six-point lead with 3:10 left in the third quarter.
Other Top-10 game
No. 8 Louisiana State 20,
at Arkansas 13
Jarvis Landry made a spectacular one-handed touchdown catch and the Tigers kept their BCS hopes alive.
Zach Mettenberger passed for 217 yards and hooked up with Landry for the play of the day with 1:12 left in the first half to put LSU up 10-0. The Tigers (10-2, 6-2 Southeastern Conference) reached double-digit wins for the sixth time in eight seasons under coach Les Miles.
LSU must now hope for an Alabama loss to Auburn and Texas A&M victory on Saturday in order to reach next weekend's SEC championship game. Even without a division crown, the Tigers could still get an at-large bid to the BCS.
• C.J. Malauulu returned an interception 33 yards for a touchdown — 12 seconds after another Kent State TD — and the No. 23 Golden Flashes capped a perfect season in the Mid-American Conference with their 10th straight win, 28-6 over visting Ohio.
The regular-season finale was a tuneup for Kent State (11-1, 8-0 MAC), which will meet No. 24 Northern Illinois in next week's MAC championship.
• Northern Illinois (11-1, 8-0) also completed its regular season Friday, beating host Eastern Michigan 49-7.