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Cornhuskers finally get a win, but it doesn't alter the Big Ten

Cornhuskers finally get a win, but it doesn't alter the Big Ten
Nebraska players celebrate around head coach Scott Frost late in the fourth quarter of the Cornhuskers' 53-28 victory over Minnesota in Lincoln on Saturday. (Nati Harnik / Associated Press)

Aw, shucks. Nebraska’s 53-28 victory in Lincoln, Neb., over Minnesota may have been “long overdue” to first-year head coach Scott Frost, yet it will do nothing to alter the course of the Big Ten Conference — even if they’ve officially leaped over the Gophers for second-to-last in the West Division.

Still, the Cornhuskers (1-6, 1-4), a week after squandering a 10-point lead in the final two minutes and losing in overtime at Northwestern, no longer have that stalk of shame related to a program-record 10-game losing streak spanning the last 13 months.

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And it removes them from the stigma of paying dues to the Winless Season Club. Factoring in UCLA’s first win last week, all that’s left in the FBS: UTEP (0-7 after falling to Louisiana Tech, making it 19 straight losses) and San Jose State (0-6 going into a game last Saturday at San Diego State).

So, too, should reports go away about how the Cornhusker decision makers would need to scrape together an estimated $26 million if they wanted to buy out the contract of Frost, as a strange USA Today story revealed earlier this week.

“This feels great,” said Frost, whose team still struggled in the second half to maintain a 28-8 halftime lead. “This what it’s supposed to feel like.”

Frost also admitting to feeling “cold” after players doused him with the water bucket. Frost called that “inappropriate” because “there’s going to be a day around here when we’re celebrating more than one win.”

How about next week? If you wanted to plot a scenario in which Nebraska finishes bowl-eligible, a triumph over Bethune-Cookman would push it to 2-6. The last four games to finish November: At No. 2 Ohio State, home against Illinois and No. 24 Michigan State, then at No. 19 Iowa.

Sure, it could happen.

PULLING IT OUT IN PULLMAN

If the student population at Washington State is about 29,000, and Pullman, Wash., has about 33,000 residents, it might be all that crazy an estimate that somewhere in there added up to the attendance at the predawn start of ESPN’s “College GameDay” before the No. 25 Cougars’ key Pac-12 North win over Oregon. It was the program’s first visit to Pullman.

With shout-outs to such WSU notables as Keith Jackson, Steve Gleason and Tyler Hilinski, one sign in the crowd was also a quote from coach Mike Leach describing the scene at the Palouse: “It’s like Woodstock except everybody’s got their clothes on.”

LEACH TAKES STOCK

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott briefly addressed a story in Yahoo Sports critical of how the conference handled officiating procedures. The piece quoted text messages from Leach critical of general counsel Woodie Dixon’s involvement in changing targeting calls made in WSU’s loss earlier this year at USC.

At halftime of the Colorado-Washington game, Scott declined to comment specifically about Leach’s texts that questioned why USC’s Porter Gustin was not flagged against Cougars quarterback Gardner Minshew late in the Trojans’ 39-36 win at the Coliseum on Sept. 21.

“I won’t comment on private communications we have with coaches,” said Scott. “What I will say is, in terms of our procedures if there's ever a concerned raised, an allegation, we immediately go to our schools, our university athletic departments and see if they want an inquiry into something like that. And Washington State declined for us to do that.”

RUFFIN READY

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Considering the Big 12 standards for defensive success, No. 9 Oklahoma believes it is measurably better by holding Texas Christian to two first-half touchdowns and a couple of field goals in a 52-27 win, coming after head coach Lincoln Riley spent a bye week replacing fired defensive coordinator Mike Stoops with Ruffin McNeill.

The Sooners (6-1, 3-1) shook things up after a 48-45 loss to Texas, which left them 83rd in the nation in total defense. The Horned Frogs (3-4, 1-3) tied Saturday’s game 7-7 with a 99-yard kickoff return by KaVontae Turpin, but amassed just 275 total yards and 12 first downs, and a single field goal to show for the second half.

“The past two weeks have been tough,” McNeill said. “Like sitting on a three-legged stool. … (Practice) was very physical and very different for them but they handled it grace, honor, pride. We talked about expectations and situations, but we also talked about ‘FIDO’ — forget it, drive on. That’s been what I’m all about for a long time.”

NOT CLOSE, BUT A CIGAR

Butch Jones was 0-5 against Alabama when he Tennessee’s head coach, including a 45-7 loss at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., last season. He ended up 34-27 with the Vols but was just 14-24 in the SEC when he was fired after last season.

At least his defenses never gave up more than 50 points to the Crimson Tide.

In a 58-21 win, No. 1 Alabama (7-0, 4-0) amassed 545 total yards on the Vols (3-3, 1-2) at Neyland Stadium, bringing Jones along as one of the many “analysts” on head coach Nick Saban’s staff.

Crimson Tide players included Jones in the locker room celebration that featured the tradition of smoking a victory cigar, with the photo going viral. Before that, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa orchestrated a Gatorade bath over Jones before the team left the field.

NUMEROLOGY UNRAVELING

No. 10 Central Florida’s 20th win in a row, 37-10 at East Carolina, is 14 short of the longest run for a NCAA Division I FBS team since 1990. Miami won 34 in a row from 2000 to 2003, which USC matched from 2003 until the 2006 Rose Bowl (many of the wins were vacated by NCAA sanctions). The overall NCAA Division I record is 47 by Oklahoma from 1953 to 1957.

Earlham College, a liberal arts institution in Richmond, Ind., set a Division III record with its 51st straight loss, 64-20 at Franklin. Next up for Earlham: 0-7 Defiance on Nov. 3. The overall NCAA record for losses is 80 by Prairie View (in Division I-AA, from 1989 to 1998).

IT PLAYS WELL ON TV

The skies were clear at kickoff and again by halftime, but a brief snowstorm blew in about midway through the first quarter of No. 23 Wisconsin’s 49-20 win over Illinois in Madison, Wisc.

"It's really fun," said Wisconsin fifth-year senior linebacker Ryan Connelly, from Eden Prairie, Minn. “We were just talking about how when we were younger, we were kids, just playing out in the backyard in the snow. It was always fun, so that's what it kind of felt like."

EXTRA POINTS

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Chatsworth-based Gemini Motorsports helped No. 5 LSU mark the 100th anniversary of its “Silent Season” team that didn’t play the 1918 season but instead fought in World War I. An iridescent purple helmet was created with paint that reportedly cost about $1,500 a gallon. When stadium lights hit the helmets, coated with four layers of the paint, it changed to gold …

Temple ended a streak of 35 straight home losses against Top 20 teams with its 24-17 overtime win over No. 20 Cincinnati. The Owls’ last win under those parameters: 3-0 over No. 13 Holy Cross in 1936 …

Morgan Ellison, who led Indiana with 704 rushing yards and six TDs last season as a freshman, has been suspended for 2 ½ years, effectively ending his career there, after a university panel determined he sexually assaulted a female student. He has not been charged with a crime.

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