Nebraska's 38-14 win over Minnesota on Saturday was an anomaly.
The Huskers put together a full 60 minutes of football, starting with the opening drive and dominating the Gophers throughout. After NU needed comebacks to win four of their last six games, the Huskers' wall-to-wall victory was a little different for Husker coach Bo Pelini.
"I enjoyed it," he said. "It seemed like that second half lasted about three years though. That may have been the longest third quarter that I've ever been a part of. Maybe it was just me."
The win inched Nebraska a game closer to clinching the Big Ten Legends division title. With one game remaining on the Huskers' slate - a matchup with Iowa on Friday - Nebraska is tied with Michigan for the lead in the division and holds the head-to-head tiebreaker. Nebraska needs either a win or a Michigan loss to clinch their spot in Indianapolis.
"We knew that this game was going to be a tough fight, and it was," NU secondary coach Terry Joseph said. "We understand that we have to take care of our own business. One good thing is that we are in control of our own destiny. We only have to worry about us."
The game got out of hand early as Nebraska took a 10-0 lead on its first two drives, and the focus of the game quickly turned to retiring athletic director Tom Osborne.
At each break in the action, a string of famous Nebraskans gave video tributes to the legendary coach. Messages were heard from supreme court justice Clarence Thomas, comedian Dan "Larry the Cable Guy" Whitney and former Huskers Grant Wistrom, Dave Rimmington and Barry Alvarez, among others.
Osborne led the team out of the tunnel before the game and was honored at halftime to a standing ovation from the Memorial Stadium crowd. After being recognized for his years of service to the school, the coach gave a final address to Nebraska fans in a prerecorded video message.
Husker players said after the game that they wanted to win the game - Osborne's 500th as part of the Nebraska athletic department - for the retiring athletic director.
"It meant everything to me because he is just an amazing person, and he's been growing a lot of our traditions," quarterback Taylor Martinez said. "He means a lot to us and the program."
The Nebraska defense stole the show on the field, as it only allowed Minnesota to accumulate 177 yards of total offense and 11 first downs on the night. Minnesota ended Nebraska's shutout bid with 7:39 left in the fourth quarter, but even that came against a defense consisting mostly of backup players.
"I thought we played really well defensively," Pelini said. "I don't know what the stats were, but up through three quarters, when we started subbing, I thought we had played pretty well and executed pretty well."
The closest Minnesota came to scoring against the starting Nebraska defense was when a Nebraska fumble set the Gophers up with good field position in the third quarter. The Husker defense quickly remedied that with a Daimion Stafford interception off a bobbled ball.
"Stafford, he was going to be the help guy over the top, and he was in the right place at the right time," Joseph said.
The Husker offense was led by Martinez' 308 passing yards and 2 touchdowns. Many of his passes went to receiver Kenny Bell. The sophomore caught 9 balls for 136 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He continued his big play tendencies as he scored on plays of 36 and 30 yards. Each of Bell's eight touchdowns this season have come on plays of 25 yards or longer.
"We have really good receivers," Martinez said. "And if they get open and we get them the ball, good things will happen."