The encyclopedia is back this week with your A-to-Z look at the Nebraska-Idaho State game. We’re steamrolling towards full-on fall and Big Ten football, but before that there’s this business of a game against the Bengals. Nebraska fans may not be expecting much in the way of intrigue this week, but there’s always something new to learn.
BURKHEAD, REX – Nebraska’s emotional, and usually statistical, leader is set to return this week in what will likely be a minor tune-up prior to Big Ten play. How many carries are enough to knock the rust off? Fifteen seems like a conservative estimate but I’m guessing the Huskers’ coaches will look to him a little more.
COLORS – I always appreciate it when Tigers, or in this case Bengals, wear black and orange. It just seems honest. And credit where credit is due: Idaho State has been black and orange since its founding in 1901.
FIGHT SONG – “Growl Bengals Growl” is an earworm. It’s a jaunty little march with a bridge built-in for chanting that will rattle around your head for the next few days. (Always a good thing.) As for the lyrics, growling, claw-bearing, teeth-gnashing, and roaring is the stuff great fight songs are made of.
GRAVES, DEREK – You can find Idaho State players near the top of the rankings in a number of the FCS passing statistics, but Graves might be the most impressive. The senior had 15 receptions in each of the Bengals first two games. His 30 receptions in two games are more than any Husker outside of Kenny Bell had all of last season, and Graves might not even be the best ISU receiver. (See Also: RUMBLE, RODRICK)
HOLT ARENA – Idaho State plays its home games indoors at Holt Arena and has since 1967. That makes Holt Arena the second-oldest domed facility in America – behind only the Houston Astrodome – and the first dome to be used exclusively at the college level. It seats 12,000.
JACKSON, CHARLES – It’s sometimes hard to parse the genuine praise from the standard coach-speak but one gets the sense that the Nebraska staff is pretty excited about the talents of this true freshman. He hasn’t had the opportunity to show much through three games due to the stellar play of Ciante Evans, but with Idaho State planning to throw it about 60 times on Saturday expect to see plenty of rotation in the secondary. That means Charles Jackson might finally have the opportunity to showcase a little of what he brings to the table.
KELLOGG, RON – Nebraska’s backup quarterback is my player to watch in this game. He’s appeared in two game this year and been asked to do no more than hand-off to Imani Cross at the end of a pair of blowouts. Kellogg should be in this game early enough to attempt some passes, reportedly his best feature, and Nebraska needs him to get in this game early. As things stand now, the Huskers are a game away from Big Ten play and have a backup quarterback who hasn’t attempted a pass yet.
KRAMER, MIKE – The new Idaho State coach is something of a Big Sky legend. Prior to joining Idaho State, Kramer had successful stints at Eastern Washington (1994-99) and Montana State (2000-06). He’s been named the conference’s coach of the year three times and is currently second all-time with 54 conference wins.
NICKNAME – For the first 20 years of its existence, teams at the Idaho Technical Institute were known as the Bantams. Being represented as tiny chickens isn’t exactly the most intimidating approach so when Ralph H. Hutchinson, a Princeton man, took over as athletic director in 1921 he looked to his alma mater for inspiration. Thus the Bantams became the Bengals. Ten years later, the student newspaper followed suit, going from the Idaho Techniad to the Idaho Bengal.
OFFENSE (Idaho State) – Balanced it ain’t. In two games this season, the Bengals have thrown it 121 times and ran it only 59. Nebraska’s strength on defense right now is its corners, so if you’re looking for an intriguing angle to this game, that’s it.
ROME, CHASE – Barely more than a week after leaving the program, the talented defensive tackle is back and ready to play on Saturday. Some have questioned whether Rome should be able to step right back in after going AWOL for a week, but if his teammates are ok with it that should be enough. And, frankly, Nebraska could use the depth on the defensive line.
RUMBLE, RODRICK – The immaculately named wide receiver had the second best season in ISU history last year with 1,348 yards receiving. Against Washington State last year, Rumble had 213 yards receiving and NFLDraftScout.com ranks him as the 43rd best pro prospect at wide receiver. Rumble sat out ISU’s first two games with an undisclosed injury but is expected to play on Saturday.
SERIES HISTORY – There isn’t any and that’s probably best for both programs. This year is the third straight where the Huskers have faced an FCS opponent.
UNIFORMS – Idaho State dropped the UCLA stripes from its 2011 uniforms which is a downgrade, but the Bengals keep things pretty classy: plain black pants, clean white uniforms with black numbers outlined in orange. The white helmets feature a cool, interlocking ‘I-S’ logo. All in all, not bad Idaho State.
YOST, KEVIN – The Bengals quarterback can sling it around. The senior currently leads the FCS with 40.5 completions per game and is well on his way to breaking his school record 300 completions, set last year. Yost played two years at Glendale College in Arizona before transferring to ISU.
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