3-point stance: NU lessens sting for B1G

January, 2, 2013
1/02/13
5:00
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1. While it may sound familiar that the Big Ten went 1-4 on New Year’s Day, the fact that Northwestern got the victory made it feel a lot better. The Wildcats found a lot of painful ways to lose bowl games -- by a lot, by a little, in overtime -- before beating Mississippi State, 34-20, in the Gator Bowl. Northwestern gets Pat Fitzgerald's first 10-win season. Fitzgerald has 50 wins and two seasons to go before he turns 40. That could be the foundation of a long, legendary career.

2. Big Ten champion Wisconsin played the best of the four losing Big Ten teams, fighting Stanford to the final 2:30 even as the Badgers failed to penetrate beyond the Cardinal 46-yard-line in the second half. The ticking clock and a 20-14 deficit forced fifth-year quarterback Curt Phillips to emerge from his comfort zone and start passing. Phillips threw a sloppy pass over the middle, and defensive back Usua Amanam picked it off. In the second half, Phillips completed 3 of 8 passes for 15 yards and that pick.

3. It is inconceivable that Nebraska went 10-4 and scored a minimum of 30 points in each of those four losses. It is unfathomable that the school that made black shirts famous gave up five touchdown passes to Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. It is mind-boggling that the Huskers gave up 70 points to Wisconsin and 63 to Ohio State. It’s also pretty easy to figure out Job No. 1 for head coach Bo Pelini over the next eight months. If he can fix his defense, Nebraska -- and maybe the Big Ten -- will return to power.

Ivan Maisel | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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