No. 25 Huskers' Burkhead returns vs FCS's Idaho St

Associated Press Modified: September 21, 2012 at 5:16 am •  Published: September 21, 2012

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Rex Burkhead is back just in time to test his left knee before Big Ten play starts.

Really, the only unknowns about No. 25 Nebraska's game against Idaho State on Saturday are how many carries Burkhead will get and how effective he'll be after missing two games with a sprained ligament.

The Cornhuskers (2-1) managed just fine in his absence, having run for more than 250 yards three straight games. Their stable of running backs becomes four deep with Burkhead, and offensive coordinator Tim Beck said all of them are part of the plan against the Bengals.

"Just because Rex is back doesn't mean we're going to push those guys to the wayside," Beck said.

The Huskers probably will employ their power running game against the Bengals (1-1), much the way they did in last week's win over Arkansas State.

With Wisconsin visiting next week, there's no need to show too much of the offensive repertoire against a Football Championship Subdivision team that has lost 33 straight road games and 45 of its last 51 games overall.

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini plans to be on hand for the entire game. Last week an ambulance took him to a hospital for tests in the middle of the Arkansas State game. He complained of heartburn and dizziness. Pelini said heart problems were ruled out, and he was given a clean bill of health.

This is the third year in a row Nebraska has played an opponent from the FCS.

Pelini said the challenge for his team is to improve while people outside the program write off the game as an easy win.

"What can we do today to make ourselves better?" Pelini said. "We have a long, long way to go as a football team right now. We have to stay hungry."

No one is hungrier than Burkhead, who all but begged the coaching staff to let him practice during the two weeks he was held out.

"I hate just watching everything go on," he said, "but at the same time it puts it in a different perspective."

Burkhead, named All-Big Ten last season after rushing for 1,357 yards and 15 touchdowns, was injured on his third carry against Southern Mississippi. Pelini said Burkhead probably could have played last week, but there was no need to bring him back before he was 100 percent.

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