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Published Tuesday, January 2, 2001

Huskers angered by Wildcat tactics


Last modified at 6:31 a.m. on Tuesday, January 2, 2001
  

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  By Terry Douglass
The Independent

In the moments following Saturday's Sylvania Alamo Bowl victory over Northwestern, Nebraska's players probably found it a little ironic that a Wildcat took home the game's award for sportsmanship.

"I have absolutely no respect for Northwestern," Nebraska center Dominic Raiola said on the field moments after Nebraska drilled the Wildcats 66-17 inside San Antonio's Alamodome. "They were the biggest cheap-shoting team we have played.

"They don't deserve to be Big Ten champions -- they don't deserve anything."

Northwestern quarterback Zak Kustok was presented with the Alamo Bowl's sportsmanship award, which was voted on by the game's officials. While Kustok was on the receiving end of numerous blows from Husker defenders and kept bouncing back without incident, the same couldn't be said for his Wildcat teammates.

"Personally, I didn't like the way they played," Nebraska middle linebacker Carlos Polk said. "They had a lot of little cheap shots and just kind of added fuel to the fire for us.

"You're going to get held when you're on defense, but they were throwing punches and grabbing facemasks -- there isn't room for that type of behavior on the football field."

Polk had offered up even stronger comments on the field directly after the game. He angrily said that comparing Northwestern to a high school team would be giving the Wildcats too much credit and that they reminded him more of "a middle school team."

At a postgame press conference, Polk said he wanted to apologize to Northwestern for his earlier remarks. It turned out to be only a half-hearted apology.

"I made some comments that I shouldn't have made on the field," said Polk, who was punched by a Northwestern lineman midway through the second quarter. "I was kind of emotional (right after the game), but Š my mom taught me not to lie."

Nebraska senior defensive tackle Loran Kaiser also said that the game was fairly chippy. Both teams fought hard right up to -- and after -- the whistle on nearly every play.

"I won't ever talk bad about another school, but that was a different experience out there," Kaiser said. "There was a lot of frustration out there. It was obvious that they weren't used to getting beat like that."

Nebraska coach Frank Solich said that from watching Northwestern games on videotape and talking with other coaches, he wasn't surprised that there was some extra-curricular activity on the field.

"I thought there was more activity unrelated to actual football on the field than I had seen for a while," Solich said. "I think our players felt that way also. Maybe their players felt that same way, too. I think it was a physical football game."

Solich said he was proud of the way his team responded and that the Huskers, in most cases, avoided retaliating. It wasn't easy, Polk said.

"I think a lot of frustration set in for them, but we are a very disciplined football team," Polk said. "We kept our composure and just stayed focused on our goal."

Nebraska guard Russ Hochstein said it became much easier to stay composed after Nebraska starting pulling away with a 31-point second quarter. Hochstein said that while the physical play never stopped, most of Northwestern's talking did.

"After we starting scoring at will and blowing them out, their chirping died down pretty fast," Hochstein said. "They got real quiet all of a sudden."



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