So far the results could not be better for Bo Pelin’s teams when given less time than usual with which to work.
Since 2009, Nebraska has faced a short week leading into Friday-after-Thanksgiving games.
The Huskers are 3-0 in those games. They beat Colorado 28-20 in 2009 and 45-17 in 2010. And last year, they delivered a 20-7 win against Iowa on Black Friday.
Still, one less day to prepare presents a challenge for both the Huskers and Hawkeyes this week.
“Just get your work done,” Pelini said. “They’re going to be on a short week, too. Like I told the coaches, you’ve got to get everything covered in a three-day span. It’s just going to require a little bit greater attention to detail. We obviously might alter our practice schedule a little bit.”
First-year Husker defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski, who was on Iowa’s side getting ready for this game a year ago, said after Saturday's game against Minnesota that perhaps the most important thing would be how players took care of themselves that very night.
“This is an important day,” Kaczenski said. “Then (we) spin through this tape. Let’s look at the major corrections: What’s Iowa going to see … what hurt us, look at the things that hurt us, and then we’ve got to move on to the next opponent, which is going to be a heckuva environment to play in.
“Our guys know what’s at stake here. Each week, the price of poker’s gone up. Our guys understand it. But they also understand it’s not going to be an easy game, that’s for sure.”
At this point, Iowa (4-7) is out of the bowl equation, but could embrace the role of playing spoiler in a game that brings with it bragging rights for the neighboring fan bases.
Nebraska, on the other hand, is just one victory from winning the Legends Division and running the table in those final six regular-season games Pelini talked about winning after the loss to Ohio State.
Given that, Husker players figure there will be other years to celebrate Thanksgiving properly.
This year, the focus must be on football, said sophomore running back Ameer Abdullah.
“Every game just keeps getting more important. We’ve got a short week, so we've got to focus up, really get things in. With the holidays and everything, we can’t be distracted.”
There’s always leftover turkey.
* The magic of old highlights: Tom Osborne helping lead the team in the Tunnel Walk on Saturday was a goose bumps moment for most Husker fans.
But what about current players from out-of-state who were just learning to walk when Osborne’s coaching career at Nebraska was winding down?
How much do they really know about the Nebraska legend?
Running backs coach Ron Brown seemed to be wondering that, too. It's why, on the night before Saturday’s game, he asked a couple of players what year they were born.
Abdullah and Imani Cross told him they were born in 1993.
“I said, ’'93? Are you kidding me?’ I remember we were playing in the national championship game (that year). That was the first national championship game I coached in," Brown said. "They were just being born, and I wondered if they had heard about Nebraska. One thing, though, that I think really helps is all this ESPN stuff, and all the BTN stuff about the old days, these kids can kind of relive history a little bit.”
Cross said he had no clue early in the week Osborne was going to come out with the team.
But when he realized what was happening?
“I was like, ‘Wow,’” the true freshman running back said. “It’s just another testament to how good of shape he’s in for his age. He’s a role model. I look up to him.”
* The one that got away: Cross banged two short-yardage touchdowns home in the second quarter Saturday, but the big back was disappointed he didn’t cash in on a third.
The Huskers called his number on the last play of the first half when they went for it from the Minnesota 1-yard line, trying to add to a 24-0 lead.
“I think I was close, but close doesn’t matter when you’re at the goal line,” Cross said. “I’m very disappointed about that play. … I was excited that the coaches decided to do that. I’m just sorry that I wasn’t able to punch it in.”
* Eyes on the prize: With the 38-14 win against Minnesota, Nebraska finished the season undefeated at home for the first time since 2001.
Senior tight end Kyler Reed was asked if he thought the program needed to do that to take another step and show it could protect its home turf.
“It’s cool to think about,” Reed said. “I don’t think we needed it. A championship is what we really need. Hopefully we can get one of those.”
Quotes on the run
“The seniors have really been the heart of the team this year. They called us in in January and said we're done being average. We're sick of 9-4 and losses at bowl games. We want a conference championship and we want bowl victories. For us to win this game in the fashion that we did was awesome. It really speaks volumes about how much this team cares about the seniors." — sophomore wide receiver Kenny Bell.
“Those guys, we let them have their glory and their shine. They were a different group than us. We just go out and try to play how we play as a secondary. Different guys, different group.” — Ciante Evans when asked about comparing this secondary to the vaunted 2009 group.
“On this day, as a person who grew up watching college football, it is a tremendous thing he has done, and he will be missed in the college game, no doubt about that." — Minnesota coach Jerry Kill’s postgame congratulations to Tom Osborne.