Nebraska and Indiana are set to play for the first time as Big Ten opponents on Saturday. NU coach Mike Riley and Hoosiers coach Kevin Wilson talked about some odds and ends Tuesday on the Big Ten teleconference.
>> Riley on the strength of the Big Ten, which currently has four teams in the AP top 10 — No. 2 Ohio State, No. 4 Michigan, No. 8 Wisconsin and No. 10 Nebraska: “I think it’s real. I’ve been in the conference now just my second year, but I’ve been very impressed with the football and the competitiveness in it. It is really, from what I’ve seen, not surprising that we have four teams ranked like this.”
>> Riley said Nebraska didn’t look too far down the road during its bye week, when asked if maybe the Huskers took at least a longer glance at somebody like Ohio State. The focus remained on Indiana, Riley said, with Husker graduate assistants doing any pre-work on teams coming up later.
>> Nebraska is averaging 234.2 rushing yards a game, a healthy bump — at least near the mid-season mark — from the 180.0 mark of a year ago.
“We felt like if we were going to be a factor in the league and be relevant, that we had to run the ball more consistently and better,” Riley said. “It was a big emphasis for us. We want to continue that trend. That part of it has improved, and we have to keep that part of who we are.”
>> Wilson said Nebraska and its edge rushers will be a good challenge for Coy Cronk. The true freshman has been the Hoosiers’ starting left tackle.
“He’s still learning how to play,” Wilson said. “He’s a very athletic kid, very big, learning how to play with the strength you need to play with the body control. We’re teaching him how to learn to slow down and use his athleticism, play with a little more body control.
“But we were very excited when he came here. He’s a very talented player. He’s off to a good start to what could be a good career.”