As a former Nebraska starting middle linebacker, Jamie Burrow is adept at sizing up an offense. 

Ohio State's, of course, is explosive. Beware of its speed. But Burrow says the Buckeyes have been uneven in recent games.

"It appears their confidence is shaken for one reason or another," he said.

Burrow would know. In fact, he knows sixth-ranked Ohio State's strengths and weaknesses as well as he knows No. 10 Nebraska's. After all, his brother is Joe Burrow, the Buckeyes' No. 2 quarterback behind J.T. Barrett.

Joe must be every bit the athlete that Jamie was.

"That's an insult to his athletic ability," Jamie said with a chuckle.

A redshirt freshman, Joe Burrow was the state of Ohio's Mr. Football in 2014. He's known in his family as "Super Burrow" because at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, he's blessed with a strong work ethic, not to mention the sort of elite athleticism that the rest of the family lacked — which is saying a mouthful, considering Jamie made a team-leading 84 tackles for Nebraska's 2001 team that played for the national championship.

Joe Burrow grew up in Athens, Ohio, where his father, ex-Nebraska player and grad assistant Jimmy Burrow, is defensive coordinator for Ohio University. Jimmy has another son, Dan Burrow, who lettered as a defensive back at NU in 2004.

So, as you would expect, the Burrows can talk football with a high degree of credibility. In that regard, it's worth mentioning that Jamie Burrow envisions a close game Saturday night at Ohio Stadium, no matter what the oddsmakers are saying.

"The Huskers are dangerous in these close games," he said. "I think Ohio State really wants to get on them early and get them down and not get into a dogfight in the fourth quarter. Because if that happens, it could go either way."

He genuinely anticipates a dogfight, though. Which means his evening could become, well, awkward. He'll sit in the Husker section and says he plans to stay quiet because ultimately, his loyalties are with family.

"I'd say it's a little strange," he said. "But it's just kind of how we were raised — we always have our family's back, whatever the situation is. I'm not necessarily rooting against Nebraska, but I'm rooting for Ohio State because of the implications for Joe." 

Bottom line, "My loyalty to Joe supersedes my loyalty to Nebraska. It'll definitely be a little awkward ..."

Same goes for Nebraska's recruitment of Joe Burrow. In that regard, Jamie Burrow wanted to set the record straight. For whatever reason, he said, the staff of former Husker head coach Bo Pelini passed on offering the younger Burrow a scholarship after he made at least one unofficial visit to the NU campus. 

By the time Mike Riley's staff offered the two-time Ohio Gatorade Player of the Year, it was too late — Joe had verbally committed to Ohio State in late May of 2014, before his senior season at Athens High, and sixth months before Riley took over in Lincoln.

What makes it more odd is current Ohio State quarterbacks coach Tim Beck was on Pelini's staff.

"Growing up, I think all of us in the family would have said if Joe has the chance to play at the highest level of college football, I think we would've thought he would end up at Nebraska," Jamie Burrow said. "For one reason or another, that isn't how it played out."

So, Joe Burrow operates behind Barrett, who leads an attack that is eighth nationally in rushing (272.4 yards per game) but only 77th in passing (220.5), as downfield completions have been few and far between.

Meanwhile, Ohio State's defense ranks sixth nationally in average yards allowed (295.5).

"As my dad likes to say, Ohio State has some dudes," Jamie said. "Dudes are guys on another level. They're basically freak athletes. Basically, Ohio State's whole team is made up of dudes. You have four- and five-star kids all over the place, and they just look different."

Burrow emphasized Ohio State's depth along the defensive line, which could spell trouble for Nebraska's banged-up offensive line.

"Their defensive line is just really active," Burrow said. "They run at least eight deep, and probably more like 10-to-12 deep. I'm real concerned about the point of attack for Nebraska."

He also said he hasn't seen a better safety this season than Ohio State sophomore Malik Hooker. He's the quintessential "dude" — 6-2, 205 pounds with speed and range. If you bleed Husker red, you hope and pray Tommy Armstrong is acutely aware of Hooker.

It's hard to pick against Hooker and his "dudes."

Let's say, Ohio State 31, Nebraska 24.

Burrow would like to see a rematch in the conference title game.

It seems very possible.

More awkwardness? Bring it on.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.


Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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