The way Nebraska’s offense had been rolling in the second half Saturday night, senior kicker Brett Maher really didn’t think his 41-yard field goal with 9 minutes, 41 seconds remaining in the game would be the Huskers’ final points.
“But I knew our defense kind of had them on lockdown,” Maher said, “so I knew if we could get those points there, that would be pretty important for us, and hopefully would be enough.”
Maher’s third field goal of the game, in four attempts, proved to be the game winner in Nebraska’s 30-27 triumph.
For his efforts, Maher on Monday was named the Big Ten special-teams player of the week, and also was picked as one of the Stars of the Week by the Lou Groza Award, which each week recognizes three of the nation’s top kickers.
A nice culmination to an exciting weekend, Maher said.
“I’m just grateful to be in a situation like that and to have the opportunities that I had on Saturday,” Maher said, “and to be able to make the most of them.”
Maher, last year’s Big Ten kicker and punter of the year, has rebounded nicely after a surprisingly bad start. His first two punts of the season covered 21 and 13 yards, and he missed field-goal attempts of 44, 41 and 37 yards in the Huskers’ first two games.
In three games since then, Maher is 4-of-4 on field-goal attempts of less than 50 yards, and his booming punts have returned too; he’s averaging 46.2 yards on seven punts in that span.
“I’ve just been kind of getting into a rhythm. I can’t really pinpoint anything specifically that I’ve done differently,” Maher said. “Just trying to stay sharp and kind of work through a little funk that I had. I really feel like things are rolling pretty good now.”
* PELINI’S RETURN: Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, an Ohio native and Ohio State alum, seemed less than interested in discussing his homecoming.
Pelini, who played safety for the Buckeyes from 1987-90, said he doesn’t remember the last time he set foot in Ohio Stadium.
Yes, Pelini said he takes pride in his alma mater, but that his past has nothing to do with what happens in Saturday night’s game.
“I’m in a different time in my life and a different place,” Pelini said. “I have a job to do and that’s all I’m concerned with.”
Offensive coordinator Tim Beck and offensive graduate assistant Vince Marrow are also Ohio natives, as are Nebraska players LeRoy Alexander, Aaron Gabriel, Braylon Heard, Tim Marlowe, Mike Marrow, Greg McMullen, Mark Pelini, Max Pirman and Kevin Williams.
* STOP NUMBER ‘W’: If it seemed as if Nebraska’s defensive players were a bit confused with Wisconsin’s motions and shifts, especially in the first half, you’re right. And there’s a good reason, too.
Players and coaches couldn’t always determine who number ‘W’ was, since that big, block letter on the front of Wisconsin’s alternative Adidas jerseys was located normally where the player’s number would be. The digits were much smaller, and in the corner of the jersey.
“We really couldn’t see who was lining up here, who was lining up there,” safety P.J. Smith said. “It seemed like in the first half, we were running around crazy, trying to figure out where this guy is, where that guy is.
“It had our heads spinning in the beginning.”
Pelini said the smaller numbers created some issues for coaches in the press box, but that other than one time, they were able to get the correct defensive personnel on the field.
* INJURY REPORT: Marlowe, a senior receiver, hasn’t played since breaking a collarbone in Nebraska’s Sept. 1 game against Southern Miss.
Pelini said at the time that Marlowe would be out “a few weeks." On Monday, he said Marlowe had an X-ray over the weekend.
“I’m not exactly sure where the doctors are on that,” Pelini said. “It’s whenever the doctors give him the go-ahead.”
Defensive tackle Thad Randle, who’s been battling a sore knee, left Saturday’s game with an apparent leg injury, but Pelini said Monday that Randle would be “ready to go.”
* HOME BREAK: Enjoy the traffic-free Saturdays in Lincoln while they last.
For only the sixth time since 1980, Nebraska will have four weeks between home football games. The Huskers, who defeated Wisconsin on Saturday night, don’t play at Memorial Stadium again until Oct. 27 against Michigan.
Other years with four weeks between home games include 1982 (Sept. 18-Oct. 16), 1991 (Sept. 21-Oct. 19), 1998 (Oct. 31-Nov. 27), 1999 (Oct. 2-Nov. 6) and 2004 (Oct. 30-Nov. 26).
In all but one occasion, a bye week was involved. The exception was in 1982, when Nebraska had three straight road games, at Penn State, Auburn and Colorado.