In its first six games this season, Nebraska's offensive line had done an impressive job keeping its quarterback on his feet, allowing only three sacks. You wouldn't have known it after watching Saturday's game against Minnesota, whose standout senior defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman caused havoc all game long in a 34-23 upset of the Huskers.
Hageman was a force, taking up double-, sometimes triple-teams against Nebraska. Early in the second quarter, he left his imprint on the game by registering back-to-back sacks of QB Taylor Martinez. On the first one, he got to Martinez but was penalized for making what appeared to be accidental contact with Martinez's facemask. On the next play, Hageman sacked Martinez again, pushing a Huskers guard aside like he was a 140-pound lightweight before taking the quarterback down.
Hageman really opened my eyes on another stop he made on a screen, recognizing the play after rushing the passer and taking off after the running back to make the tackle for just a short gain. I really liked the way he just kept after it today. He didn't just make one good play and then take the next few plays off because he was tired out. He kept playing hard, and it had a big impact on the outcome of the game.
At 6-foot-6, 307 pounds, Hageman has emerged as one of the top defensive linemen in college football. He was recruited as a tight end out of high school in Minnesota and is very athletic for a player his size. He was unranked when I released my initial Hot 100 senior prospects list, but at midseason I elevated him to No. 5, ahead of other more highly touted senior defensive linemen such as Tennessee's Daniel McCullers and Arizona State's Will Sutton. What Hageman did today against Nebraska only reaffirmed how highly I think of him.
Other Week 9 highlights:
»I was really impressed with the creativity of Minnesota's playcalling Saturday. They ran a lot of different formations that kept the Huskers on their toes, including one where the left tackle moved over to right tackle as an eligible receiver. On a 4th-and-10 play from the 33 in the second quarter, the Gophers went for it, and wide receiver Derrick Engel made a highlight-reel catch, leaping to catch a pass over the top of the defense.
»Wake Forest came within a minute and a few seconds of upsetting Miami, which escaped with a 24-21 win when running back Duke Johnson scored with 53 seconds left. The last time the Demon Deacons beat the Hurricanes was in 1944.