Power Rankings: Nebraska thrills
It was the play of last weekend in college football: Nebraska's winning Hail Mary touchdown pass to beat Northwestern 27-24 Saturday.
The Huskers volleyball team didn't have to go through quite that much drama in its contest with Northwestern a few hours later that evening in Lincoln, Neb. But it wasn't far off.
The Huskers survived by a whisker in the fifth set, winning 15-13 and making for an all-time horrible day for Northwestern athletics in Nebraska's capital city -- and a magical Saturday for Huskers fans (although perhaps a little hard on their collective blood pressure). Senior Kelsey Robinson led the way against the Wildcats with 21 kills and 16 digs.
Now, can the volleyball Huskers keep their mojo going? They are ranked No. 11 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll and are second to Penn State in the Big Ten standings at 10-2. The Nittany Lions lead one of volleyball's behemoth conferences at 11-1, and Penn State and Nebraska don't meet until the regular-season finale in Lincoln on Nov. 30.
But that is the furthest thing from the Huskers' minds, as this weekend presents two major obstacles, both on the road: No. 16 Wisconsin and No. 9 Minnesota. The Huskers beat the Badgers and Gophers the first weekend of October, but that was at home at the Devaney Center.
So it could be a different vibe next week in Huskerland, which is kind of the nature of the brutal Big Ten. But for a few more days, Nebraska fans should continue to relish a pair of fantastic finishes.
Now, here is this week's top 10 in the espnW power rankings:
1. Texas (17-2)
The Longhorns are steaming along, fine-tuning as they get deeper into their title-defense season. They downed TCU and Oklahoma last week and lead the Big 12 at 10-0. They have just one match this week: Saturday against visiting Kansas.
2. Penn State (20-2)
The Nittany Lions solidified their Big Ten leader status, beating Michigan and Michigan State on the road last week. The latter victory avenged their only league loss, against the Spartans at Penn State on Sept. 27. Purdue and Indiana have the difficult chore of visiting Penn State this weekend.
3. Washington (19-1)
Speaking of revenge, the Huskies got it against the only team that's defeated them this year, sweeping Colorado last weekend. That followed a win over Utah and keeps Washington atop the Pac-12 at 11-1. Might there be some danger at Arizona State and Arizona this weekend? Possibly, but after the Huskies' loss at Colorado on Oct. 4, they will be especially vigilant.
4. USC (20-3)
The Trojans had a big five-set win at Stanford last week, their first at Maples Pavilion since 2006. They followed that with a victory over Cal and now sit in second place behind Washington at 10-2 in the league. USC hosts Oregon and Oregon State this weekend.
5. Missouri (27-0)
The Tigers stayed perfect, taking the broom to visiting Mississippi and Kentucky last weekend. Lisa Henning became Mizzou's career kills leader in the sweep of the Rebels. Mizzou leads the SEC at 11-0, and Florida is 11-1. You're wondering: When is the rematch with Florida? Not so fast. First the Tigers have trips this week to Auburn and Alabama.
6. Florida (22-2)
OK, OK ... the Gators' rematch with Missouri -- at Florida -- is on Nov. 15. But coaches hate looking ahead. And for good reason: The Gators had to battle to win in five sets at Texas A&M last weekend. Now they have a "bye" week. On Nov. 13, Florida hosts South Carolina, which will be televised by ESPNU at 6 p.m. ET. After that, the Gators can think about Mizzou.
7. Stanford (16-5)
The Cardinal lost their second match of the season to USC last week in a classic Pac-12 five-setter. Stanford bounced back to beat UCLA. Stanford, at 9-3, has a two-game lead over Cal for third place in the Pac-12. The Cardinal travel to Colorado and Utah this weekend and can't afford a letup.
8. Nebraska (17-4)
The Huskers got three of the weekly Big Ten honors after their wins over Illinois and Northwestern: Robinson was the league's player of the week, Cecilia Hall got the defensive award, and Kadie Rolfzen was co-freshman of the week.
9. San Diego (19-3)
The Toreros beat Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount last week and are on a 10-match winning streak. But they actually are second in the West Coast Conference at 11-2 behind 12-1 BYU, which beat San Diego on Sept. 20. The rematch in San Diego is Nov. 23.
10. Colorado State (21-0)
The Rams dropped a notch in the AVCA rankings, from ninth to 10th, even though they didn't lose a match, swapping spots with Minnesota in the coaches' poll. But Colorado State continues to rule the Mountain West, leading the league at 12-0.
Next five: Minnesota, Hawaii, Michigan State, Duke, Purdue
• Hawaii rallied from losses at Cal State Northridge and UC Davis, improving to 18-4 with wins over UC Irvine and Long Beach State. It's back to the mainland this week, though, as the Rainbow Wahine visit Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara. The Gauchos handed Hawaii its first Big West loss this season on Oct. 11, a 3-2 upset in Honolulu.
• The Big West leader remains Cal State Northridge (19-4, 9-1), which moved up a spot to No. 23 this week in the AVCA poll. These are great times for the Matadors, who were ranked last week for the first time since 1992. UCSB is second in the league at 8-1, and Hawaii is third at 7-3.
• ACC leader Duke is No. 15 in the AVCA poll, the Blue Devils' highest ranking in six years. Duke has won 16 of its last 17 matches but plays five of its next six on the road. That includes a trip to Florida State on Nov. 24; Duke is at 11-1 atop the ACC, with the Seminoles second at 10-2.