Category Archives: Huskers News

When the Huskers start 4-0, more wins tend to follow before the first loss

When Nebraska starts a season 4-0, it’s a safe bet the Huskers will make it to 5-0, and history shows NU makes it even deeper with an unblemished record after finishing the first month undefeated.

We analyzed every season since Bob Devaney took over the program in 1962. The Huskers have won each of their first four games 26 times during that 54-season span (this season marks the 27th). In those 26 seasons, NU also won its fifth game 23 times — 88.5 percent — and all three losses came against ranked teams. That means the Huskers are rarely ever upset in game No. 5 after a 4-0 start, which bodes well for this weekend with NU facing unranked Illinois.

We broke down those 26 seasons even further, dividing them into three categories: the Devaney era, the Tom Osborne era and the post-Osborne era.

Devaney had five 4-0 starts during his time in Lincoln, 45.5 percent of his seasons. Osborne did it 12 times (48 percent). The highest percentage of 4-0 starts has actually come since Osborne retired, with it happening in 9 of the 18.

But most of those came under Frank Solich. He started 4-0 five times, 83.3 percent of his seasons, and it’s been rarer since he was fired. There were four 4-0 starts from 2004-15, only 33 percent.

But, regardless of the coach, a 4-0 start typically signals more good things to come.

The Huskers have won 11 conference championships and four national championships in seasons they started 4-0. (NU started 3-0-1 in the 1970 national title season with a tie against No. 3 USC in the second game). The Huskers also have an average final ranking of 9.3 in 4-0 seasons and have only finished those years unranked once (2014) since the AP Poll expanded past 10 teams in 1967.

Nebraska almost always gets to at least nine wins after starting 4-0. Only once, in 2005, did the Huskers finish such a season with eight. The most frequent win total is 10, which has happened in 9 of the 26 seasons, and eight times the Huskers finished with 11 wins or more.

So when does history suggest that first loss might come?

It typically happens against a ranked team. Of those 26 4-0 seasons, 17 times (77.3 percent) a team in the Top 25 handed NU its first loss. In regards to the 2016 season, No. 8 Wisconsin (Oct. 29) and No. 2 Ohio State (Nov. 5) are the only teams currently ranked on Nebraska’s remaining schedule.

The Huskers also tend to prolong their streak a few more weeks after winning the first four. In 15 of the 26 seasons, NU reached 8-0 or better. Half the time, they make it to 9-0. The Huskers would have to get past both the Badgers and Buckeyes to go 9-0 this year.

And for Mike Riley, this start is even more special. Only once at Oregon State (2012) did his team start a season 4-0. Even the San Diego Chargers never started 4-0 while Riley was the head coach there.

He’s also done something at Nebraska that hasn’t happened often. This year’s team is only the third since 1967 to win its first four games after opening the season unranked. Solich did it in 2003 and Bill Callahan in 2005. Both of those teams were in the Top 25 by year’s end.

Riley and the 2016 Huskers will hope for an even better season than those 2003 and 2005 squads, though, and the numbers suggest they should earn several more wins in the coming weeks.

Illinois at #15 Nebraska

When: 2:30 p.m Saturday (Pregame begins at 9:30 a.m.)

Where: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln

Radio: 103.1 FM

If Huskers Go 7-0, Callahan Believes They Could Be a Top Ten Team

BEATRICE – Sitting at 4-0, the Huskers withstood their tough test against a ranked Oregon team and now have the lightest part of their schedule in front of them. Publisher Sean Callahan said at the Husker Insight Luncheon at Risky’s Bar & Grill in Beatrice on Thursday that if the Huskers can take care of business, they could very well be a top ten team in the country.

They will be heavily favored in each game upcoming, more than likely, against Illinois, Indiana and Purdue. Following those three games will be road trips to Wisconsin and Ohio State, both currently in the top eight in the country.

In the video above, you can see Callahan’s prediction for the Huskers against the Illini, as well as his thoughts on the upcoming schedule.


Wideouts coach Keith Williams ‘ecstatic’ to be back on duty for Husker games

LINCOLN — Alone in his office, Keith Williams watched Nebraska’s first three football games this season. The fourth game, played at Northwestern, Williams watched in the airport on an iPad.

“The Big Ten (Network) stream,” Williams said.

The Husker wideouts coach, serving a four-game suspension after a drunken-driving arrest, said it was a particularly hard experience as Nebraska went back and forth against Oregon. Williams went back and forth between looking and not looking at the TV.

Watching alone, apart from the team, “was a stressful situation,” he said. “But I brought it on myself. So you move forward and make it right.”

It has been a stressful six weeks for the second-year coach since the arrest, which occurred halfway through preseason practice and occupied a week of coach Mike Riley’s time to figure out how he’d handle it. Ultimately, Nebraska chose to keep Williams on staff. He first served a suspension in which he had zero coaching contact with the team. He returned to coach in practice during the week of the season opener against Fresno State. He then missed the three hours each Saturday while the Huskers played their four games.

Williams, out of jail on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond, still faces charges of third-offense DUI and careless driving. His next court date is Oct. 24 and, if found guilty, he’ll likely face jail time.

But, for now, he’s on the field with his players, preparing for Illinois.

“That whole process was really tough,” he said. “I’m ecstatic to be back.”

Williams said his wide receivers have played “good” while he’s been suspended. No “bonehead” mistakes. Receivers struggled some with downfield blocking and getting lined up correctly during the Fresno State game. Williams said his absence on the sideline may have thrown off players to some degree.

Graduate assistant Hardie Buck handled Williams’ duties during the suspension periods.

“Buck’s the man,” Williams said.

Senior Brandon Reilly said Buck did a good job, but “I think our wideout play is going to take that next step this game.”

Williams still texted players reminders before games. Reilly said that meant a lot to players. They’d get texts after the game as well.

“He’s our hardest critic but our biggest fan,” Reilly said. “He was always there. He pointed out good blocks. He remembers every play, so if you didn’t run a route good, he’s going to let you know.”

Williams said his first conversations with players and colleagues were like his statement to media about good decision-making.

“You’re responsible for every one of your decisions,” Williams said. “If you’ve got 99 good ones, each decision is independent. The things that you do, you’re responsible for it, no matter who you are.”

One of Williams’ 2016 recruits, Californian Derrion Grim, left the program while Williams was still in the no-practice portion of his suspension. Williams said he was surprised by Grim’s transfer to a California junior college.

“He had a change of heart,” Williams said. “I wasn’t excited about it. But, you know, I want him to be happy, and if he thinks it’s somewhere else, then hopefully that happens.”

Williams said he appreciated the “support and understanding” from Nebraska’s administration, coaches, players and fans.

“Everybody involved has been real supportive and great,” he said, “and that’s just been real humbling.”

Huskers quiet Illini to win third consecutive road match to open league play

CHAMPAIGN, Illinois — When the Big Ten Conference volleyball schedule was unveiled this summer, it might have taken some rose-colored glasses to envision the Huskers’ winning streak surviving three straight road matches to open league play.

But No. 1 Nebraska’s record stayed unblemished — and its run of overall consecutive victories remained intact — after a third win in six days on the home floor of a ranked opponent as the Huskers swept No. 24 Illinois 25-18, 25-22, 25-21.

On a night the Huskers played their 1,500th match in program history, NU quieted a Huff Hall crowd of 2,911 fans who aimed to break the arena record for noise on “Illinoise Night.” The decibel meters run by the Illinois marketing staff never peaked in a Game 1 blowout, and the Huskers made plays late in the second and third sets to silence a pair of Illini comeback attempts.

“It’s a really nice win,” NU coach John Cook said in a postgame radio interview. “I don’t think we played our best volleyball tonight.”

However, led by 12 kills from All-American opposite hitter Kadie Rolfzen and a strong defensive performance by NU’s backcourt, the Huskers never truly felt threatened in their 28th consecutive win and 11th straight victory over a ranked opponent on the road.

Nebraska (12-0, 3-0 Big Ten) eclipsed the .300 attacking mark for the ninth time this season, hitting .302 with junior setter Kelly Hunter handing out 38 assists.

However, Cook’s lament about imperfect volleyball could be seen in a comparison of Nebraska and Illinois’ outside hitters. NU’s Mikaela Foecke and Andie Malloy were effective at times combining for 17 kills, but their 10 combined errors breathed life into an Illinois team that largely played the Huskers evenly after the first-set blowout.

As did the spark provided by Illinois freshman outside hitter Jacqueline Quade. The reigning Big Ten freshman of the week led all players with 14 kills on .367 hitting, scoring many of her points on out-of-system rallies where it seemed the Huskers had the advantage.

“The thing we didn’t do well was letting their outsides get kills when we got them out of system,” Cook said. “That’s something we’ve got to work on and get a little better at.

“We needed to keep the pressure on them. We could’ve really made some runs if we’d have done a little better job not letting them get those out-of-system kills.”

Still, Nebraska’s defense largely held firm. The Huskers out-blocked the Illini 9-7 led by six blocks from senior middle blocker Amber Rolfzen, who also had six kills.

Senior libero Justine Wong-Orantes led Nebraska with 11 digs, and Annika Albrecht chipped in 10 digs to help the Huskers finish with a 47-33 advantage in recoveries.

“When you out-dig Illinois at their home by (14) digs, that’s a really good night,” Cook said. “Illinois, when they pass, they’re going very fast so you see there’s a lot of junk and mishits and kind of slop that comes over. That’s why our back row did a really good job. That’s something when we get on the plane I’m going to remind them the back row won tonight.”

Nebraska held on to win the final two sets thanks to a pair of big defensive plays at the net. With NU clinging to a 23-22 lead in Game 2, Amber Rolfzen and Malloy teamed up to block Illinois’ Naya Crittenden to give the Huskers set point. It was part of a rough night for Crittenden, who had twice as many errors (eight) as kills (four).

In Game 3, it was Foecke who snuffed out the Illini comeback with a solo block of Crittenden to put the Huskers up 24-21, and Briana Holman’s eighth kill of the night on the next rally put a period on the win.

With a victory against No. 19 Ohio State on Saturday night, Nebraska can tie the 29-match winning streak that ran between the 2006-07 seasons. That match will come at the Devaney Center, where the Huskers will play seven of their next nine matches after grinding out three straight wins away from home.

“I told them,” Cook said, “since I’ve been coaching at Nebraska I don’t know if we’ve had three ranked teams in five or six days on the road. I told them, I said ‘That is a heck of an accomplishment.’ It just shows them how hard they worked this summer, what great condition they’re in, and I guess their desire and will to win.”

Nebraska (12-0, 3-0 Big Ten)…………25 25 25

At Illinois (9-5, 2-1)……………………..18 22 21

NU (kills-aces-blocks): K. Rolfzen 12-1-3, Foecke 9-1-1, Holman 8-0-2, Malloy 8-0-3, A. Rolfzen 6-0-6, Hunter 4-0-2, Albrecht 2-0-0, Wong-Orantes 0-1-0

UI: Quade 14-0-3, Strizak 10-0-0, Stadick 7-0-2, Crittenden 4-0-3, Bastianelli 2-1-5, Welsh 0-1-0, Poulter 0-0-1

Set Assists: NU 46 (Hunter 38, Wong-Orantes 4, K. Rolfzen 3, Albrecht 1). UI 36 (Poulter 32, Donnelly 3, Strizak 1). Att: 2,911

Husker notes: Tenopir ‘special guy’ to Cavanaugh; Big Ten honors Foltz, Sadler and more

LINCOLN — Nebraska offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh spent time Wednesday reflecting on his relationship with Milt Tenopir, and how following Mike Riley from Oregon State to NU allowed it to happen.

The chance to become friends, Cavanaugh said, “was very special to me.” They found themselves to have similar personalities.

“He was just a special guy,” Cavanaugh said. “Lot of love. Lot of care. We had a lot of laughs. You try to remember the good times, you know.”

Cavanaugh said he’d known of Tenopir, but didn’t know him personally until arriving in Lincoln.

“I was a young coach, and I’d be at a convention and I’d say to other guys who had no idea, ‘Hey, there’s Milt Tenopir right there. He’s the best line coach in the country,’” Cavanaugh said.

Tenopir died Monday at 76. He was a Husker assistant coach from 1974 to 2002, and the Huskers won 13 NCAA rushing titles under his watch.

Asked what stood out when Cavanaugh watched film of old NU line play, he said: “How physical those guys were, and the pride that they took.”

“I think your players got to know that you care about them,” Cavanaugh said. “Obviously guys coach people hard, and he was that way, but I know those guys know that he loved them, too.”

Tenopir made it to Husker practice one last time last Thursday, which Cavanaugh was grateful to see.

“All he wanted to do was get out to practice,” Cavanaugh said. “So, I mean, it was what he wanted, and he got a chance to do it.”

Big Ten honors Foltz, Sadler

The Big Ten has joined the outpouring of support for Nebraska and Michigan State after the July deaths of punters Sam Foltz and Mike Sadler, announcing that it will use a special coin honoring both players during the coin flips in this week’s conference games.

The coin depicts each team’s punter on one side, along with a school logo and the words “In honor of Sam Foltz” and “In honor of Mike Sadler” on their respective sides.

The coin was developed collaboratively by representatives from Nebraska, Michigan State, the Foltz and Sadler families and the Big Ten Conference.

Nebraska plans to use the commemorative coin for the rest of its 2016 home games.

Illini D-line imposing

The Nebraska offensive line will have its hands full Saturday with the Illinois defensive front. The Illini rank among NCAA leaders with 32 tackles for loss through three games, including 13 sacks.

“They’re good up front,” Cavanaugh said. “I think it’s the best group of D-linemen that we’ve seen so far. They’re real athletic, they’re explosive, they’ll pin their ears back. They’re aggressive. So it’s a good, good challenge.”

NU offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said the Illini have some defensive ends “who are scary.” And when you can generate pass rush with your front four, he said, you don’t have to send extra pass rushers and weaken your coverage.

“Sometimes those speed rushers, they are really good on you on third-and-long,” Langsdorf said, “and that’s where we’ve got to really get out of that situation.”

That might put an emphasis on the Husker run game against an Illinois defense allowing 158 rushing yards per game and 4.1 per carry.

Reilly feeling good

Nebraska faces the possibility of being without receiver Alonzo Moore on Saturday, but the report was good on Brandon Reilly coming out of the Northwestern game.

“I felt good,” Reilly said Wednesday.

The senior had missed the Oregon game after injuring a hamstring against Wyoming. Reilly had one reception for 35 yards at Northwestern, but tested the hamstring with some burst on a crossing route that he turned into a big gainer.

“Sometimes those linger, but I think he had good rehab and felt good about getting in there and playing,” Langsdorf said. “We made sure that we felt good enough about him being healthy. Then we didn’t overdo him, either. We didn’t play him in every personnel group, so we gave him a chance to kind of ease himself back into the games.”

Langsdorf said NU didn’t want to risk anything by playing Reilly against Oregon when he wasn’t ready.

“I think if he plays and does it again, you’re out for even longer,” he said. “So I think it’s just wise to make sure he’s 100 percent feeling good.”

Hang on tight

NU running backs coach Reggie Davis is always big on ball security, I-back Devine Ozigbo said, but it definitely was even more of a focus starting the week after both he and Terrell Newby lost goal-line fumbles at Northwestern.

“We talk about it in film, talk about things that could’ve prevented it,” Ozigbo said. “We have to do our punishments. But it’s just going over it and making sure it’s something we don’t get bored with, is what he says a lot. Don’t get bored with ball security, because it’s a major part of the game.”

Ozigbo had his first big game last season against Illinois, running for 70 yards and a touchdown on seven carries after having just two carries in the Huskers’ first four games.

“It was like the day after my birthday, so it was a crazy experience of going there,” Ozigbo said. “This year it’s the day before my birthday, so that’s pretty cool, and my parents are coming and it’s homecoming. So it’s a lot of things to look forward to.”

Quick hits

» Langsdorf said true freshman Boe Wilson from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, is “in the mix” to play at guard because of injuries to Jerald Foster and Tanner Farmer. Coaches had hoped to redshirt Wilson this season and may still try to do so. Langsdorf said he wanted to wait one more day. Sophomore Cole Conrad from Fremont Bergan could play guard, too.

» Langsdorf praised quarterback Tommy Armstrong’s ability to “turn a 5-yard gain into 15” on designed run plays. Overall, Armstrong’s play has been “solid” and “expected,” Langsdorf said, neither above nor below expectation.

Big Ten to use special coins honoring Sam Foltz, Mike Sadler at all Week 5 games

There has been an outpouring of support for the Huskers and Spartans after the tragic death of punters Sam Foltz and Mike Sadler earlier this year.

Nebraska’s opponents have stepped up to show respect for the Huskers’ loss, with Fresno State declining a delay of game penalty in the season opener when Nebraska came out with 10 men on its first punt. Ducks coach Mark Helfrich and kicker Matt Wogan placed a bouquet of flowers at the 27-yard line before the Nebraska-Oregon game as a tribute to Foltz, and Northwesternwore helmet stickers honoring Foltz’s memory.

Now the Big Ten has announced that it will use a special coin during this week’s coin flips in all seven of the conference’s weekend matchups.

The coin depicts each team’s punter on one side of the coin, along with a school logo and the words “In honor of Sam Foltz” and “In honor of Mike Sadler” on their respective sides.

The coin was developed collaboratively by representatives from Nebraska, Michigan State, the Foltz and Sadler families and the Big Ten Conference.

Nebraska plans to use the commemorative coin at the remainder of its 2016 home games.

So, yet another touching move by those in the Big Ten family trying to pay tribute to two former student-athletes whose lives were cut too short.

UNL chancellor meets with Husker players who knelt during national anthem, sends out message of support

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green met Wednesday with Husker football players who knelt during the national anthem before last Saturday’s game.

Earlier Wednesday, he wrote to UNL students, faculty and staff in support of the players.

Calling freedom of speech “an indelible right,” Green said UNL welcomes varied views.

“The diversity in our thoughts and opinions is what leads to productive discourse,” Green wrote. “I am saddened that the peaceful — and by their intent respectful and prayer-centered — actions of our students resulted in threats from a few individuals in public forums.”

The chancellor said he understood that many believe the protest could have been done in some other way. Nevertheless, “the fact remains that their personal choice to speak in this way is a protected right that we all are afforded by the Constitution.”

The players’ action at the Northwestern game followed a national wave of athletes who have knelt, sat or raised a fist during the national anthem as a way to bring attention, they argue, to police shootings, brutality and oppression of minorities.

Regents Chairman Kent Schroeder of Kearney said Wednesday that there have been reports that some regents may want to take action against the players.

“I can assure you that we will take no such action,” Schroeder said in a letter to NU faculty, students and staffers.

“There is perhaps no more appropriate space for open and honest dialogue — even dialogue which some of us may find uncomfortable or offensive — than an institution of higher learning,” Schroeder wrote. “The Board of Regents will abide by its long-standing policy and the Constitutions that govern our state and nation. We will not restrict the First Amendment rights of our students, faculty or staff.”

Regent Robert Schafer of Beatrice said through a written statement that he didn’t support “the venue these student athletes chose to express their political or social viewpoint.”

Schafer, a member of the Nebraska Air National Guard, said he supports the players’ right to protest.

“Many African Americans believe the justice system is tilted against them, and too many Americans of every skin color are victims of violence,” he said.

Schafer said there are “real issues that cannot be ignored and should be addressed through conversations and positive actions in our homes, in our schools, in our communities, and across our states and nation.”

Schafer’s criticism was somewhat similar to that made Tuesday byRegents Hal Daub of Omaha and Jim Pillen of Columbus. Both criticized the venue in which the players chose to protest.

Linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey, defensive end DaiShon Neal and linebacker Mohamed Barry knelt during the anthem before Saturday’s game at Northwestern.

NU President Hank Bounds, who has defended the players’ rights to protest under the First Amendment, sent a letter to all students, faculty and staff in the NU system. Bounds reiterated his point.

“The University of Nebraska will not restrict the First Amendment rights of any student or employee,” he wrote.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska issued a statement Wednesday calling the First Amendment “a bedrock for American values” and praising the players “for having the courage to speak truth to power.” The statement was made by Danielle Conrad, executive director of the ACLU of Nebraska.

“Our democracy is strengthened by robust debate,” Conrad wrote.

And student government at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will consider a resolution this evening supporting “the exercise of freedom of opinion and expression among UNL students, faculty and staff . . . “

The proposed student government resolution also encourages dialogue “to address and find solutions aimed at ending violence and systemic racism against African American people and people of color.”

Husker notes: Now starting, Carlos Davis is showing his maturity; NU linemen gear up for ‘big dudes’ and more

LINCOLN — Chalk up another strong game for redshirt freshman defensive tackle Carlos Davis. Defensive coordinator Mark Banker said Davis is playing “much more responsible” in his three career starts. Davis is starting because sophomore tackle Mick Stoltenberg continues to recover from arthroscopic knee surgery that limits the number of snaps he can play.

“In the summer maybe there was some angst with him going in the wrong direction or getting out of his gap trying to make a play over, so the (run) fit by the ’backer was off,” Banker said. “He’s really matured at this point in time, and I just hope he continues to grow because he’s playing really well.”

Banker called Davis a “world-class athlete” and Stoltenberg “a mountain of a man.” Those two, along with Kevin Maurice, have helped the Huskers replace two defensive tackles — Maliek Collins and Vincent Valentine — who are rookies playing prominent roles on NFL teams.

“They made the NFL, and they’re doing well obviously,” Banker said. “We played with Valentine for six games last year and there were times I didn’t see anything in him. I didn’t think his work ethic was going to — it was in question. He’s with the perfect team.”

That’d be the New England Patriots and coach Bill Belichick.

“Belichick won’t let him take one second off,” Banker said. “And he’s into it.”

Collins, who played for the Cowboys, “had all the talent there was in the world” but could be “a little bit of a maverick” for the Huskers, Banker said. Collins was very good, Banker said, when he was on assignment.

NU linemen gear up for ‘big dudes’

Nebraska defensive linemen have taken note of the Illinois size they will see on Saturday.

“They got some big dudes up front, very athletic,” Maurice said. “Everybody’s physical up front.”

Every Illinois offensive lineman is listed between 6-foot-4 and 6-6, and each is 300 pounds or more. The leader is 6-5, 300-pound Christian DiLauro at right tackle, but the Illini were ranked as the No. 13 line in the Big Ten in Phil Steele’s football preview.

“Just a really big, physical bunch,” Stoltenberg said. “So we definitely have to make sure that we’re working hard getting our hands getting extension on them, because they’ll drive you off the ball if they get a hold of you.”

Stoltenberg has been inching back into the rotation since missing the Wyoming game.

“It was rough sitting out that Wyoming game and kind of being limited these last two weeks,” Stoltenberg said, “but it’s definitely a blessing that it wasn’t a more severe injury.”

Maurice aims for another strong game

Maurice had his breakout game last year at Illinois, finishing with eight tackles in his first career start.

But his foot was hurting afterward, and the injury turned out to be bad enough that Maurice missed three midseason games just as he was feeling good about his progress.

“I didn’t know to what extent it was,” he said, “but I knew something was wrong.”

That performance doesn’t mean much this week when the Illini visit Memorial Stadium, he said, calling it a “whole different ballgame, whole different team, whole different system.” Nor does he make much of any extra incentive for Nebraska after that 14-13 loss.

“It’s not like a revenge game or anything like that,” Maurice said. “We’re just trying to do what we’ve been doing for the last four games, and continue to play well.”

Quick hits

» Banker said Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt is a “big, strong guy” with a high pass completion rate with a “good corps of receivers.”

The Illini, Banker said, like to go “up top” and throw deep passes.

“We’ll see what we’re made of a little bit more in this game right here,” Banker said.

» Illinois’ offensive linemen tend to flip from left to right from play to play. Banker said the habit can sometimes tip a defense off to the coming play.

Big Ten notes: One month in, already injuries aplenty; Stat of the week and more

The injury bug is biting extra hard through the first month of play, sidelining numerous key contributors.

Wisconsin starting inside linebacker Chris Orr blew out his knee on the first defensive snap of the first game. He is out for the season. Star tailback Corey Clement has missed parts of two games and been limited in two others by a sprained ankle.

Also, Badgers kicker Rafael Gaglianone (back) missed last week’s game at Michigan State and has been upgraded only to questionable this week.

Penn State played last week at Michigan without its three starting linebackers because of injury. Two-year starter Nyeem Wartman-White (knee) is out for the season.

Last week, Rutgers lost a key starter on each side of the ball to season-ending injuries. Receiver/returner Janarion Grant (ankle) had accounted for 35 percent of the Scarlet Knights’ all-purpose yards. Defensive end Quanzell Lambert (knee) had been praised as the leader in the front four.

Michigan State has lost starting outside linebacker Jon Reschke “for a significant period’’ with an ankle sprain suffered last Saturday, coach Mark Dantonio said Tuesday. Starting middle linebacker Riley Bullough (shoulder), who missed the Wisconsin game, is listed as questionable this week.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday senior Matt VandeBerg — the team’s leading receiver — suffered a broken foot in practice Monday and is out probably for the rest of the regular season.

Stat of the week

Michigan has scored at least 40 points in its first four games for the first time since 1947.

Players of the week

» Offense: Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong. The senior from Cibolo, Texas, accounted for 378 yards and a touchdown in a win over Northwestern.

» Defense: Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Watt. The junior from Pewaukee, Wisconsin, had 3.5 tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries in a win over Michigan State.

» Special teams: Iowa punter Ron Coluzzi. The senior from Naperville, Illinois, landed four of his seven punts inside the 20-yard line and averaged 42 yards in a win over Rutgers.

» Freshman: Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook. The West Chester, Pennsylvania, product completed 16 of 26 passes in his first college start for 195 yards and a touchdown in a win over Michigan State.

Bits and pieces

» Today’s rumor control: Ohio State’s Urban Meyer said he hasn’t been contacted about the open job at LSU, adding: “I’m going to be the coach at Ohio State.’’

» Who will Rutgers consider to replace the explosive playmaking lost by the season-ending injury to Grant? Look for Jawuan Harris to get a shot. Last spring, he led Big Ten baseball with 37 stolen bases.

» Minnesota is 14 of 14 in the red zone this season — 13 touchdowns and one field goal.

» Iowa has 3,500 tickets left for Saturday’s homecoming game against Northwestern.

Ricketts will meet with Husker linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey, who knelt during national anthem

Gov. Pete Ricketts will meet with Husker football player Michael Rose-Ivey to discuss his decision to kneel during the national anthem before Saturday’s game.

Rose-Ivey requested the meeting with Ricketts in a tweet Tuesday morning.

“Would love to sit down and further the discussion with you if you are available,” he had tweeted.

Late Tuesday, Ricketts tweeted: “Thanks for reaching out. Direct message me your information, and we will get something set up right away!”

Rose-Ivey replied to Ricketts’ tweet: “I would be more than happy to do that. I appreciate this.”

The governor on Monday called the decision by linebacker Rose-Ivey and two other Husker players — defensive end DaiShon Neal and linebacker Mohamed Barry — “disgraceful and disrespectful.”

Earlier Monday, Rose-Ivey told reporters at Memorial Stadium that the players felt it was their duty to “step up and join the chorus of athletes in the NFL, WNBA, college and high school using their platforms to highlight these issues.”

The players knelt during the national anthem before Saturday’s Northwestern game in solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began kneeling to protest wrongdoings, such as police violence, against African-Americans and minorities.

Ricketts said he respected the players’ right to protest, but that he disagreed with the way they did so. He suggested players raise their fists, as have past Olympians. He also condemned any violent threats or language directed toward the players.

Nebraska coach Mike Riley has said Rose-Ivey spoke “very eloquently” to the team about his decision prior to Saturday’s anthem.

Nebraska’s Mike Riley on criticism from Gov. Pete Ricketts and Hal Daub: ‘I’m certain of how we’re handling it’

Nebraska football coach Mike Riley said Tuesday night that Gov. Pete Rickets and University of Nebraska regent Hal Daub — elected officials who have been vocal critics of three Husker players kneeling during the national anthem — are entitled to their opinion, but he’s comfortable with how he’s handled the situation.

“I’m certain of how we’re handling it,” Riley said of allowing Michael Rose-Ivey, Mohamed Barry and DaiShon Neal to kneel during the national anthem last Saturday in protest of police violence against black Americans. Riley said he’d had discussions with athletic director Shawn Eichorst that affirmed his confidence. “It’s exactly what we talked about: Everybody can have an opinion. They’re entitled to it. I’m not surprised.”

When asked if he was disappointed that Ricketts and Daub had criticized the players without talking to them or Riley first, the coach said “I actually do think if they talked to to the players they would have a real good idea.”

Would Riley invite such a dialogue?

“That would be totally up to the players,” Riley said. “They took an opportunity with a situation to make a point. Which I respect. Within the confines of our team, it was well-respected by our team, and I love that. And all these guys are just beautiful guys who are really thoughtful. When they did that, there was a ton of thought that went into it. I really, truly believe there are tons of opinions across this country about something like this. And I’m not going to worry about that. I have a firm belief about what I think is right and wrong. What other people say, they’re certainly entitled to say. I have respect for the fact that they can say it.”

Daub told the World-Herald he was “not pleased” with Riley’s response to the situation. Riley was aware of Daub’s comments prior to the interview.

“He’s entitled to to say that,” Riley said. “I have complete confidence in what I believe in and how I handled it within this team. It was the right thing to do — because it’s their right.”