Brian Brashaw

The State of Nebraska Athletics

     

 

 

There is an historic storm blowing through eastern Nebraska, an unprecedented simultaneous success story at the University of Nebraska, Creighton University and the University of Nebraska – Omaha.

The flagship sports for the respective universities, Husker football, Bluejay men’s basketball and Maverick hockey programs are in the midst of collective history.  For the first time, all three programs are on a six-game winning streak, and all three teams are ranked No. 14 or higher in each sport’s respective polls. It’s a never-happened scenario that is helping our mid-western state to plant a flag on the national sports map. Remember where you were on this date, because after this week, it may not happen again.

All three teams face major tests coming into this week. Below we break down each teams rise to where they are now, take a look back at each team’s streak and a look ahead to the upcoming week.

Husker Football

The Nebraska Cornhusker football season has been a roller coaster that would make even the toughest of guys, like Ndamukong Suh queasy. The goal preseason for Nebraska, coming in ranked No. 17 in the AP Poll, was to win the Big Ten Championship. But after a 4-2 start, a 25-point blowout in Columbus and knocked out the the polls, it seemed a pipe dream. Nebraska needed to go perfect through the final six game to get a chance at their goal. It took a team coming together, making a decision to not quit, and four gut-wrenching second-half comebacks, but the Huskers made the doubters have to watch and see this Saturday.

The winning streak is not to be understated. Nebraska hasn’t won six straight since since 2001, where they started 11-0. The Huskers haven’t won a conference championship of any kind since 1999. Ironically enough, with the theme of six, if Nebraska can win the Big Ten and go on to win the Rose Bowl, they would become just the sixth team to ever win all four of the current BCS Bowls (Rose, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta).

Nebraska, now ranked No. 12 in the BCS and No. 14 in the AP, faces a Wisconsin team Saturday that was a victim of one of those comebacks. Although the Badgers are just 7-5, they have the task of proving they belong in a game that Ohio State vacated.

Creighton Men’s Basketball

The Bluejays started this season ranked No. 16 in the AP Poll and No. 15 in the coaches poll, their highest preseason ranking ever. Through their first six games, Creighton is averaging over 85 points per game and winning by a margin of 23 points per game (skewed a bit by the 48-point win over Longwood).

While it is early in the season, Creighton ranks fourth in team field goal percentage and 12th in points per game, and with the 6-0 start have climbed to 11th in both polls and have a good chance to crack the top ten in the coming week.

Creighton will host a 4-1 Boise State team tonight with the chance to open 7-0 for the second straight year. Their December schedule begins on the first with a home tilt against St. Joseph’s and then the will make the short drive to Lincoln for a state-wide blood feud with Nebraska (who will be 6-1 or 5-2) on Dec. 6.

Its possible to imagine the scenario that Creighton will be 12-0 heading into Missouri Valley play, assuming they survive a tough coast trip to Cal on Dec. 15.

Nebraska-Omaha Hockey

Mavericks celebrate a goal by Andrej Sustr last weekend against UAH. Photo by Michelle Bishop, USCHO.com

The so-called media experts and coaches didn’t expect much from the Maverick hockey team this season as UNO was picked eighth in both the WCHA preseason media poll and coaches’ poll. However the Mavericks has proven them all wrong so far.

UNO is off to an 8-3-1 start, ranked No. 13, and  on a six-game win streak. All three of UNO’s losses were by just one goal. They have outscored their opponents 45-25 in 11 games and have yet to allow more than three goals in any game.

The Mavericks have yet to lose a Friday game and their senior goaltender John Faulkner is 7-0-1 on the year. Their six-game win streak is the longest winning streak since the 2001-2002 season, where the Mavericks won eight in a row.

Their streak includes sweeps over conference foes Michigan Tech, Minnesota-Duluth and a non-conference home sweep over Alabama-Huntsville. The Mavericks currently sit in fourth in the WCHA, just one point short of a tie for second.

Although Faulkner has been the anchor in net for UNO, Freshman goalie Anthony Stolarz owns the team’s only shutout. Stolarz backstopped UNO’s most recent win, an 8-0 win over UAH. The 8-0 win was UNO’s biggest win since Oct. 20, 2006, a 10-1 win over Niagara.

However this weekend will be the toughest this season for the Mavericks. They will travel to Minneapolis to face the No.3 ranked Minnesota Gophers. Minny is 9-2-2 on the year and is tied for second in the WCHA. UNO has only played Minnesota five times, and the silver lining is that the visiting team has won each game, including the sweep UNO got in their WCHA opener in Oct. 2010.

These three schools are representing Nebraska athletics very well right now and the next few weeks it will be really interesting to see if the teams keep climbing or history is merely now. Either way, a proud time to be loving sports in the heartland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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