Will Bo Punish Florida Atlantic for Firing His Brother?
With just over five months remaining until the college football season begins, there is plenty to wonder about. Even the home opener for Nebraska against Florida Atlantic has some interesting elements. Had Carl Pelini lasted another season as head coach of the Owls, the game would be a showdown of two brothers. Not quite Super Bowl XLVII, but still fairly intriguing. Now, that Carl is out, the question becomes whether Bo will seek to take it out on his sibling's former team.
Many will recall Bo Pelini taking issue with a late touchdown scored by Kansas State back in 2003. Wildcat head man Bill Snyder left his starters in until the end of a game. There may have been a little payback in 2010 when Nebraska kicked a 40-yard field goal with 4:30 remaining in a game his team already led 45-13. NU had pulled their starters, but probably could have either gone for it on 4th and 6 or pooch-punted rather than put more points on the board.
Some question remains whether the Huskers will have an opportunity to run it up on Florida Atlantic. The Owls finished last season on a four-game winning streak after Pelini left. Quarterback Jaquez Johnson put up impressive numbers down the stretch as the kind of dual-threat quarterback that has perplexed Bo Pelini going all the way back to Ell Roberson. Johnson averaged nearly 10 yards per pass attempt in the last four games of 2013 and almost six yards per carry. He passed for six touchdowns against 3 picks and ran for four more scores over that span.
The Owls have some other standout pieces returning. Big wideout William Dukes averages close to 16 yards per reception. Cornerback D'Joun Smith intercepted 7 passes including one he returned 75 yards for a score. He also had 34 tackles and deflected 13 passes. Linebacker Andrae Kirk had 84 tackles, a pick, and four pass breakups. Punter Sean Kelly averaged 42.7 yards per punt.
So perhaps the question may not be whether NU piles on, but simply whether they avoid an upset at home. Then again, the team passed over interim head coach Brian Wright who guided the team to a perfect 4-0 record and instead hired Charlie Partridge a former assist to Wisconsin and Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema. So there will be some further adaptation to change necessary for the players, particularly on defense.
But if the Huskers have the kind of outing they tend to against small conference schools at home early in the season, they could easily find themselves in position to pile on late in the game. In that event, it will be interesting to see how aggressive Pelini is with his brother's former school.