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Everyone knows Bo Pelini's mantra: In game film we trust.
Nebraska's head football coach, however, broke his own code after the Huskers' 29-28 weekend escape at Northwestern. If there is such a thing as a measurement for praise, Pelini went at least two octaves above his normal postgame analysis.
Without even the slightest encouragement, Pelini heaped praise on Ciante Evans, the Arlington, Texas, junior cornerback who put Northwestern quarterback/wide receiver/ playmaker Kain Colter in lockdown mode. When Colter finished the game with only three catches for 17 yards, Pelini didn't need film analysis before heaping praise.
"Ciante Evans was absolutely phenomenal," Pelini said.
Who would have guessed "phenomenal" was in Bo's dictionary, let alone "absolutely phenomenal"? Count Evans among those most surprised with such glowing feedback. He was, after all, repeatedly picked on a year earlier when Northwestern upset Nebraska, 28-25, in Lincoln.
Here's the best news: The film proved what Pelini already knew, so Evans was announced as the Nebraska's Defensive MVP following the Huskers' fifth win of the season. The honor reflects overall performance more than individual stats. Evans was credited with only one tackle and one pass breakup.
Two isolated stats hardly reflect the shutdown Evans delivered. His biggest play, in fact, didn't even register in the stat book. On a third down late in the fourth quarter, Northwestern needed only four yards to keep a drive alive. The Wildcats were leading, 28-23, with about five minutes left.
Colter ran an out route, and Evans forced an incompletion that led to Northwestern having to punt. The Wildcats grudgingly gave the Huskers an opportunity to come back and duplicate the two biggest fourth-quarter comebacks in school history.
Nebraska's coaching staff named Taylor Martinez the Offensive MVP for the pivotal win over Northwestern. With 342 yards passing, three touchdown passes, plus 65 yards rushing and another TD, Martinez moved ahead of Dave Humm and Joe Ganz and now ranks second among Nebraska career passing leaders.
For obvious reasons, NU coaches decided not to name a Special Teams MVP. Jordan Nelson, a freshman I-back from Omaha Burke, won the Scout Team Offensive MVP award. Seth Jameson, a junior cornerback from Southlake, Texas, was the Scout Team Defensive MVP, and Thomas Brown, a freshman linebacker from Gardena, Calif., was the Scout Special Teams MVP.
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