Red Report: Huskers know they must keep foot on pedal

2012-11-29T20:15:00Z 2012-11-30T01:38:18Z Red Report: Huskers know they must keep foot on pedalBy BRIAN CHRISTOPHERSON / Lincoln Journal Star

There was a good amount of talk from Husker players this week about finishing.

Senior tight end Ben Cotton said it's important that players keep their mind on finishing all the way through Saturday night's Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin.

That's something Cotton thinks the 2010 Huskers did not do well against Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship. After jumping to a 17-0 lead, Nebraska gave it away and ended up on the losing end of a 23-20 score

"Not settling until you hear that final whistle," Cotton said. "I think we got up by so much so quickly that we kind of took our foot off the pedal, and we didn't finish that game (in 2010). Oklahoma won 3 1/2 quarters. We won half-a-quarter, and that's why they were the victors.

"I think that's something we have to keep in the back of our minds, that we have to keep the foot down, no matter what happens, no matter what the score is, no matter who's winning at any given point in that game."

* A four-man crew: Running backs coach Ron Brown said this week "there's a place" for all four of the tailbacks -- Rex Burkhead, Ameer Abdullah, Braylon Heard and Imani Cross.

"We'll see how the flow of the game goes," Brown said. "They're unselfish guys. I told them this week I'm just so proud of them because we needed every single one of them to get to where we're at right now. Every single one of them had an impact on the season, including the fullbacks.

"Who would've thought Rex Burkhead would've been down all the time that he was and we still lead the conference in rushing?"

Burkhead practiced well this week, and with a lot of confidence, Brown said.

"He looks great."

Will Burkhead start?

"You play him," the Husker running backs coach said with a chuckle. "He's in the game plan. I don't care if he starts, I want to know who finishes. He's the best finisher in college football. That's what I love about him."

* Bo’s bonuses: Per his contract, Husker coach Bo Pelini would gain $250,000 total in bonuses if Nebraska were to win Saturday night’s game.

With a base salary this year of $2.875 million, Pelini already has secured $350,000 in bonuses -- gaining $200,000 for appearing in the Big Ten Championship Game and $150,000 for coaching in a bowl game.

But he gains an additional $150,000 for winning the conference championship and an extra $100,000 for appearing in a BCS bowl game such as the Rose Bowl.

* Ticket tracking: Ticket sales have been slow for Saturday night's Big Ten title game. Nebraska sold 7,800 of its 15,000-ticket allotment. Wisconsin sold 5,500.

While it's hard to get a read on how many tickets are being bought through different outlets, it's clear the game is not selling the way a Nebraska-Ohio State rematch would, especially with the Buckeyes undefeated.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said on an podcast that people just have to be realistic about the conference's odd situation this year.

"The fact that we have a couple of ineligible teams and the fact that we have a different matchup that would have happened if other teams had been eligible will probably affect us at the gate," Delany said. "I don't know how much."

* November success: Pelini wouldn't say this week if this is his most improved Nebraska team over the course of a season.

"I think every year we've gotten a little bit better as the season's gone on," he said. "You just look back to Year 1. I hope that's a trademark of our teams. We've always been good in November."

Pelini's Husker teams are 16-4 in November.

Now the Huskers are hoping to improve on their 1-3 record in December under Pelini.

* Jamrog recognized for efforts: Jeff Jamrog is among three finalists for Football Scoop’s Director of Football Operations of the Year.

A former walk-on defensive end for the Huskers in the mid-1980s, Jamrog is in his fifth year as Nebraska’s associate athletic director for football operations.

Other finalists include Stanford’s Matt Doyle and Kentucky’s Nolan Jones. The winner will be announced Dec. 10.

* A change-up: Pelini did not have his usual post-practice session with reporters on Thursday.

But Pelini will field questions at a press conference on Friday at 2:30 p.m. (CST) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Wisconsin's Bret Bielema will then take his turn with the media at 3.

Reach Brian Christopherson at or 402-473-7439. You can follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.

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