Nebraska is on a five-game winning streak and is favored headed into Friday’s Heroes Game at Iowa. But NU coach Bo Pelini said he’s making sure his players take nothing for granted.
“There’s a lot of parity in college football and every week you’re going to get challenged,” Pelini said Monday at his weekly news conference. “I think there are certain media outlets or fans who will try to put this team on a pedestal, or say these teams are better than these other teams. In college football, you can get humbled in a heartbeat. You can get beat every week. We need to understand that going to Iowa if you don’t bring you’re 'A' game, you can get beat. You’d better have respect for the game.”
Iowa brings a 4-7 record into Friday’s game and has lost five games in a row. Nebraska, meanwhile, is playing for a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game.
“I think our players have a pretty good understanding of what we have at stake,” Pelini said. “It’s not about Iowa, it’s about us. We have a lot of respect for their program. We know they’re going to play hard. There’s a tremendous amount of pride and tradition in their program and it will be Senior Day, so there’s a lot of things going into it for them. All that being said, we’ve got be ready to play our best football. Going on the road is always tough.”
One of the areas Pelini praised was the Huskers' pass defense, which is holding opponents to a completion average of just 45 percent.
“We want to challenge every route,” he said. “We have pretty high expectations and we’ve worked pretty hard at how we play pass defense. I think I said way back in the spring that I liked how our secondary was developing and growing. I thought we had pieces and potential, but we all know what potential is. You have to maximize it and put it on the field.”
As expected, Pelini didn’t have a lot to say about breaking news that Maryland and Rutgers would be joining the Big Ten.
“I was a little surprised, but I haven’t though much about it,” Pelini said. “When I heard the two schools being talked about, I understand why, with the East Coast and New York markets. Whoever they put on our schedule, we’ll play. Those (expansion) decisions are made way over my head."
Pelini said he was pleased with NU's relative health this late in the season, adding that senior running back Rex Burkhead had a 50-50 chance at playing Friday at Iowa.