Two of the best sophomore defensive ends in the nation will be on view Saturday when Nebraska plays host to Michigan State in a de facto Big Ten Legends Division title game.
Michigan State's Shilique Calhoun (6-foot-4, 250 pounds) and Nebraska's Randy Gregory (6-6, 255) are tied for the Big Ten lead in sacks with 6.5. Gregory is coming off a three-sack outing this past Saturday in the Huskers' win at Michigan; the performance earned him a co-Big Ten defensive player of the week nod with Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland. Calhoun had 2.5 sacks in a win over the Wolverines the week before.
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"I'm not throwing him into [Ndamukong] Suh's category yet, but I think he can have that type of impact on our program down the line," Huskers coach Bo Pelini said during his weekly Monday news conference.
Calhoun and Gregory are lanky, athletic edge rushers. And both are third-year sophomores, making them draft-eligible.
Gregory was a touted junior college transfer who missed the 2012 season with a broken leg. He had nine sacks in 2011 at Arizona Western CC. Gregory is an Indiana native who originally committed to Purdue out of junior college. He is third on the Huskers in tackles with 39 and leads the team with 11.5 tackles for loss. He also has 10 quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
Calhoun made just six tackles as a redshirt freshman last season, but he had a strong spring and slid easily into William Gholston's vacated end spot. He also has played better than Gholston, who while athletically gifted, had a single-season high of just five sacks with the Spartans (he had 10 in his career, which ended when he turned pro a year early). Calhoun has 22 total tackles, with 11 tackles for loss, 17 quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
Both ends could find it tough to get sacks Saturday. The Huskers' offensive line has allowed just 12 sacks, Michigan State's only seven.
Michigan State would take a two-game lead in the division race with two games left with a victory.