|All Points West: We’ll miss 2016 seniors|
|November 25, 2016 Frank Marquez|
The Huskers did it again.
They won, beating the Maryland Terps in a battle of the backup QBs on Senior Day in Lincoln. One of those seniors among 30 who were recognized before the early game on Saturday, Grand Island’s own Ryker Fyfe took over for fellow senior and starting quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr., who stood on the sideline with a hamstring injury he incurred the previous week in a hard-fought battle against Minnesota, while the Terps inserted Max Bortenschlager as their helmsman.
Speaking of, Huskers fans will be pulling for the Golden Gophers against Wisconsin next Saturday in their final regular season game. The Badgers, and a Husker win against the Iowa Hawkeyes are the only things standing in the way of a stab at a conference title.
What a difference a year makes. Last season about this time, a 5-7 embattled Nebraska was waiting to see if it would go bowling. They ended on a positive note with a triumph over UCLA in the Foster Farms Bowl. This year’s seniors had a long off-season to think about it. Then one of their own, Sam Foltz, died in a car accident, giving them even more motivation.
All 30 Huskers playing their final year laid roses at the 27-yard line on Saturday to honor Foltz, whose jersey was No. 27. After the Huskers’ first score of the game against the Terps, which ended with a 28-7 result, one of the balloons released – a long running tradition at Memorial Stadium on Saturdays – landed on the opposite end of the field on the 27-yard line. Who says Sam isn’t watching? There wasn’t a dry eye in the place. Like every other opposing team this year, Maryland paid tribute to Sam’s memory by presenting a team jersey with Foltz’s number, which the Huskers laid on a bench next to Sam’s Husker jersey.
Foltz was killed in late July in an accident that also took the life of Michigan State punter Mike Sadler.
Nebraska moves up two spots in the Coaches Poll to No. 15, and to No. 17 in the AP Poll, and it is the first season since Nov. 7, 1960, that three Big Ten teams are in the top five, Ohio State and Michigan are No. 2 and No. 3, while Wisconsin sits at No. 5 in the AP Poll. In 1960, Minnesota, Ohio State and Iowa occupied three of the top five spots. The other two teams, most likely playoff bound, include Clemson and Alabama. The Crimson Tide out-distancing any other college team on both sides of the ball, may well run the table in a declining Southeastern Conference, and earn the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
The 9-2 Huskers should be tested by Iowa in Iowa City in what has been built up to be a rivalry since Nebraska joined the Big Ten in July 2011. Collecting the Heroes Trophy, the Hawks won the last time the teams met, 28-20, and the Huskers won in OT in 2014 by a field goal, 37-34. This year’s group of seniors will be hungry to even the score and go out on a winning note. In the past three meetings, the road team has prevailed. So, this pattern certainly favors the Huskers. Nebraska leads the overall series against the 7-4 Hawkeyes, 29-14-3.
Head Coach Mike Riley was quoted as saying that he wished could have spent more time with this group of seniors. No doubt, they fought through adversity, injuries, harsh critics, and some of them working through one of the premiere walk-on programs in the country. I personally look forward to seeing some of them at the next level in the NFL.
In this column, we honor the 2016 seniors: Armstrong Jr., QB, Cibolo, Texas; Josh Banderas, LB, Lincoln, Neb; Ty Betka, WR, Superior, Neb.; Cethan Carter, TE, New Orleans, La.; Sam Cotton, TE, Lincoln, Neb.; Ross Dzuris, DE, Plattsmouth, Neb.; Sam Foltz, P, Greeley, Neb.; Trey Foster, TE, Lincoln, Neb.; Fyfe, QB, Grand Island, Neb.; Nathan Gerry, S, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Sam Hahn, OL, DeWitt, Neb.; Charles Jackson, DB, Spring, Texas
• Garret Johns, DL, Aurora, Neb.; Spencer Lindsay, PK, Kearney, Neb.; Kevin Maurice, DT, Orlando, Fla.; Mitch McCann, FB, Omaha, Neb.; Alonzo Moore, WR, Winnfield, La.; Graham Nabity, RB, Omaha, Neb.; Jordan Nelson, IB, Omaha, Neb.; Terrell Newby, IB, Los Angeles, Calif.; Robby Painter, OL, Centennial, Colo.; Logan Rath, DT, Giltner, Neb.; Brandon Reilly, WR, Lincoln, Neb.; Michael Rose-Ivey, LB, Kansas City, Mo.; Brad Simpson, LB, Omaha, Neb.; Jamie Sutcliffe, PK, Thousand Oaks, Calif.; Dylan Utter, C, Papillion, Neb.; Jordan Westerkamp, WR, Lombard, Ill.; Corey Whitaker, OL, Murrieta, Calif.; and Tanner Zlab, DB, Wilber, Neb.
Catch the Nebraska-Iowa game at 1:30 p.m. (MST) on ABC.