Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead stood shivering on the sideline with his teammates Saturday afternoon, desperately hoping for an opportunity to show his injured left knee was fine. The temperature in Iowa City hovered in the mid-30s, and swirling winds made it nearly impossible to accurately throw the football.
It was the kind of day that called for a powerfully built truck of a man to repeatedly plunge through the line of scrimmage on the ground. It was a Rex Burkhead kind of day.
So when Nebraska coach Bo Pelini found his team trailing Iowa, 7-3, at halftime and needing a victory to ensure a Big Ten championship game spot, he sought out Burkhead. No matter that he hadn't played the past 4 12 games after aggravating an MCL sprain. He had been medically cleared, and this was his time.
"It was a surprise," Burkhead said this week. "Coach Bo came up to me after halftime asking me if I was ready to play. I said, Absolutely.' It was good to be out there getting...