Big Ten notes: Tough week for Pelini, Nebraska

Big Ten notes: Tough week for Pelini, Nebraska
September 18, 2013, 12:00 pm
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Vinnie Duber

To call the last week for Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini "tough" is definitely an understatement.

After a particularly embarrassing loss to UCLA, one that saw the Huskers allow 38 unanswered points after going up 21-3, Pelini was ripped by a Nebraska legend and then a recording surfaced from two years ago of him ripping Husker fans. So, instead of talking about defensive fixes and the upcoming game with South Dakota State, Pelini's spent much of the past few days apologizing.

"That was a conversation that was private that happened during an emotional time in a private setting. Obviously it wasn't representative of how I feel," Pelini said Tuesday during the Big Ten coaches teleconference. "It was a difficult time. I vented in a situation where I thought it was a private conversation. Obviously it's unfortunate with it being out there. I've made a statement along with the university saying that I'm sorry. I'm sorry ... to anybody that that offended, but it was never meant to be public and it's unfortunate that it went public.

"Like I said, now that it's out there, I felt it was important to apologize and to have people understand that I do believe that we have great fans. I respect them. I respect them for who they are. I've said it over and over and over again since I've been here that we have great fans."

[MORE: Northwestern's preparation won't change for FCS foe Maine]

Tommie Frazier, the former Nebraska quarterback heading to the College Football Hall of Fame, was the one who fired the negative remarks at Pelini after the loss to UCLA, saying that the entire defensive staff should be let go. Then Deadspin posted the now infamous recording that features a lot of profanity, recorded after a comeback win for the Huskers after home fans had departed after Nebraska went down early.

"I think we've all said things behind closed doors that wasn't for public consumption," Pelini said. "If everybody's personal thoughts in a frustrating moment or emotional moment ever got out there, we'd all be in trouble."

Pelini certainly has a point, and just as much negative criticism has been delivered to the person who recorded the rant and waited two years to release it. But there's been plenty of speculation whether or not these recent controversies, coupled with a program that still hasn't reached the national prominence it once had, could start the clock ticking on Pelini's time at Nebraska.

[RELATED: Illinois punter DuVernois earns weekly Big Ten honor]

But more immediately, Nebraska has to regroup from that loss this past Saturday. Pelini doesn't think the events of the past few days will affect his team, but that remains to be seen.

"Our players are resilient, and trust me, they'll be ready to go. It's a strong group of kids, kids that I deeply believe in."

Mr. Hyde returns to Columbus

The Ohio State offense has been rocking and rolling so far this season, but it has yet to feature all the playmakers it has at its disposal.

At least one of those will return this weekend, when running back Carlos Hyde returns from a three-game suspension stemming from an incident during the offseason. Hyde was the Buckeyes' top back a season ago, rushing for 970 yards and a team-high 16 touchdowns.

"Carlos Hyde, I've got to make this clear that he is welcomed back," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. "The way he's handled his business, it's been a terrible three weeks for him, he's handled his business the right way. If he didn't handle his business the right way, he wouldn't be playing in this game. He's been very unselfish, working the scout team, and he will play. Where he is on the depth chart will be determined this week in practice.

"There's two ways to handle discipline. One is to mope and complain and whine, and there was none of that. And I think he knows that this is it, he's at the 11th hour of his career, and he played very well for us a year ago. He handled this in a very unselfish, selfless manner, which it was made very clear to him it had to be that way. Because he could have come back and said, 'There's nothing legally wrong with what I did.' That never came up. I simply said, 'This is the punishment. This is what I need you to do, and you better walk the straight line here.' And he did, so we're welcoming him back."

[MORE: Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 3]

Hyde returns, however, to an offense that has excelled in his absence. Fill-in Jordan Hall has had a terrific three games, and he currently leads the Big Ten with six rushing touchdowns and ranks third with 353 rushing yards. Meyer said Hyde will play Saturday against Florida A&M, but there might be a battle for carries brewing between last year's top back and this year's breakout ballcarrier.

Michigan picking up pieces after scare

The highlight — or lowlight — of Week 3 in the Big Ten might have been Michigan's near loss to Akron at the Big House.

The Wolverines, coming off a huge win over Notre Dame, got all they could handle from the visiting Zips, squeaking by with a 28-24 win. Only a touchdown drive in the game's final minutes and stops inside their own five-yard line in the game's final seconds prevented a football disaster.

So what does coach Brady Hoke have to say following what could have very easily been his first home loss since taking over at Michigan?

[RELATED: Illini don't take Soldier Field opportunity for granted]

"I thought we learned a lot from how we played a week ago, and I think that's something that a young team needs to learn," Hoke said. "We were fortunate enough to be on the right side of the score at the end.

"I think we all need to learn, and it's not just the players. I think we all, myself included, need to make sure that our preparation is detailed and that we're dotting the I's and crossing the T's and make sure as we plan for what we want to do that the plan is something that we can do and can execute. Those things are important. I think at halftime, there was some ... adjusting going on on both sides of the ball, which is always good to see. The kids are still learning, and they're into it. They were fortunate enough to come away with a win, but at the same time, the offense drove the ball down the field when they had to to take the lead and the defense held them."

Sudfeld becoming the guy for Indiana?

Indiana entered the season with a three-headed quarterback monster, and coach Kevin Wilson planned on using all three throughout the season or until someone emerged.

Well, sophomore Nate Sudfeld might be that guy to emerge.

[MORE: Illini QB Scheelhaase loses consistency vs. Huskies]

Sudfeld has thrown far and away more passes than his counterparts — Tre Roberson and Cameron Coffman — and has put up some crazy numbers. Sudfeld leads the Big Ten with 917 passing yards and 10 touchdowns, and his 70.6 completion percentage is second only to Penn State's Christian Hackenberg. So, according to Wilson, has Sudfeld separated himself?

"He's doing well," Wilson said. "We're going to still try to look and use the strengths of all three quarterbacks. We still have what we think are three very talented ones. But he's had a very good preseason. The surrounding parts have played very well for him. ... The running game was a little bit better last week, gave us a little more balance and helped him out. But he's managed. He's still a young player. It was his first start the other day against Bowling Green, and he managed it in a solid way."

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