The theory is simple: Every person in the world is connected, through way of introduction, in six steps or less. These six degrees of separation supposedly connect us all. Well, The World-Herald is making it a little more simple to connect to the players of Super Bowl XLVIII. Here are 48 Midlands connections to help you feel closer to the NFL’s premier event.
1. Peyton Manning, Broncos QB
Besides his “Omaha” catchphrase, Manning has another Midlands connection that Husker fans will remember: the Orange Bowl after the 1997 season. Nebraska beat Manning’s Tennessee Volunteers 42-17 en route to a share of the national championship. Manning was 21 of 31 for 131 yards with one touchdown and an interception in that game.
2. Russell Wilson, Seahawks QB
Wilson beat Nebraska while at Wisconsin. He was 14 of 20 in the 2011 matchup, throwing for 255 yards and two touchdowns as the Badgers won 48-17.
3. Pete Carroll, Seahawks coach
Carroll was Iowa State secondary coach under Earle Bruce in 1978. Carroll then went with Bruce to Ohio State the next season. As head coach at Southern California, Carroll beat the Huskers in 2006 and ’07.
4. John Fox, Broncos coach
Fox was Iowa State defensive backs coach under Jim Criner in 1984. Fox left one year later to be the defensive backs coach for the Los Angeles Express USFL team, which folded after that season.
5. Cliff Avril, Seahawks DE
Avril was 1-3 against the Hawkeyes in his time at Purdue from 2004 to ’07. Avril had 16 tackles and a forced fumble in his career against Iowa.
6. Montee Ball, Broncos RB
While at Wisconsin, Ball totaled 443 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in three games against Nebraska, including a 70-31 win in the 2012 Big Ten championship, where Ball ran for 202 yards and three scores.
7. Phil Bates, Seahawks WR
A practice squad player in Seattle, Bates was an Omaha North quarterback who went on to Iowa State. He later transferred to Ohio to play under former Nebraska coach Frank Solich.
8. Michael Bennett, Seahawks DE
Bennett played against the Huskers twice during his time at Texas A&M, losing in 2006 and winning in ’07. He totaled five tackles, including two for a loss, and forced a fumble in his career against NU.
9. Darrell Bevell Seahawks offensive coordinator
As a quarterback at Wisconsin from 1992 to ’95, Bevell was 0-2 against Iowa and 1-0 against Iowa State. Bevell’s first assistant coaching job was at Westmar University in Le Mars, Iowa, in 1996. He moved on to Iowa State in 1997 as a graduate assistant.
10. Michael Bowie, Seahawks OT
While at Oklahoma State, the Cowboys were 1-1 against the Cyclones, including a 37-31 loss that ended OSU’s undefeated season in 2011.
11. Stewart Bradley, Broncos LB
Bradley was at Nebraska from 2002 to ’06. He led the Huskers in tackles his redshirt senior season with 76, including six for a loss. He also forced three fumbles that season and recovered four. He spent this season on the injured reserve for Denver.
12. Red Bryant, Seahawks DE
Bryant played at Texas A&M through 2007, making one start against Nebraska. In that game, he had a tackle for a loss.
13. Chris Carlisle, Seahawks strength and conditioning coach
After playing at North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City, Iowa, Carlisle was a three-year starting offensive lineman at Chadron State College, earning All-Area honors. Carlisle began his career as the football coach and strength coach at Dodge High School in Nebraska in 1985.
14. James Carpenter, Seahawks OG
Carpenter committed to Iowa State out of high school, but struggled academically and went to Coffeyville Community College instead. He ended up playing at Alabama, where he won a championship in 2009.
15. Kam Chancellor, Seahawks safety
While at Virginia Tech, Chancellor played against Nebraska in 2008 and ’09. He totaled seven tackles, including 1½ sacks, and an interception.
16. Marquise Cole, Broncos CB
Cole totaled seven tackles and had a pass breakup for Northwestern in two career games against Iowa.
17. Kellen Davis, Seahawks TE
Davis, who played at Michigan State, faced Iowa in 2008, catching three passes for 43 yards.
18. Eric Decker, Broncos WR
Decker played at Minnesota from 2006 to ’09. In three career games against Iowa, he had 70 receiving yards and one touchdown. Decker also played outfield for the Gophers baseball team, going 8 for 24 with three RBIs and eight runs scored in eight games against the Hawkeyes.
19. Joel Dreessen, Broncos TE
Dreessen was born in Ida Grove, Iowa, but attended high school in Colorado and college at Colorado State.
20. L.J. Fort, Broncos LB
Fort, who is on the Denver practice squad, started for three seasons at Northern Iowa and was named the FCS defensive player of the year in 2011.
21. Eric Hagg, Broncos safety
Hagg was a Husker from 2007 to ’10. He led NU in interceptions as a senior with five and had 49 total tackles. He’s now on the Denver practice squad.
22. Steven Hauschka, Seahawks kicker
Hauschka spent the 2010 season with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the UFL, kicking four field goals in two wins against the Omaha Nighthawks.
23. Jordan Hill, Seahawks DT
In two losses against Nebraska in 2011 and ’12 while at Penn State, Hill had 10 tackles, including one for a loss, and a fumble recovery.
24. Trindon Holliday, Broncos WR
Holliday played at LSU from 2006 to ’09. The defensive coordinator for the Tigers in Holliday’s first two seasons: Husker coach Bo Pelini.
25. Michael Huff, Broncos safety
While with Texas, Huff played Nebraska twice, winning both. He posted nine tackles, including three for a loss, as a freshman in 2002, and he had five tackles with three for a loss and half a sack in ’03.
26. Quentin Jammer, Broncos CB
In Jammer’s five years at Texas starting in 1997, the Longhorns were 2-1 against Nebraska and 2-0 against Iowa State.
27. Steven Johnson, Broncos LB
While Johnson was at Kansas, the Jayhawks were 2-2 against Iowa State and 0-3 against Nebraska.
28. Travis Jones, Seahawks defensive line coach
Jones was an assistant at Kansas from 2001 to ’02, losing twice to Nebraska.
29. Jermaine Kearse, Seahawks WR
While at Washington, Kearse played against the Huskers three times. He had 51 receiving yards and a touchdown in the 2010 regular season, one catch for four yards in the 2010 Holiday Bowl, and five catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns in the 2011 matchup.
30. Chris Kuper, Broncos OG
Kuper was 1-3 against the University of Nebraska at Omaha while at North Dakota from 2002 to ’05.
31. Chris Maragos, Seahawks safety
Maragos lost to Iowa while playing at Wisconsin in 2008 and ’09. He recorded eight and five tackles, respectively, in those games.
32. Benson Mayowa, Seahawks DE
At Idaho, Mayowa played the Huskers in 2010, recording four tackles and a sack.
33. Zach Miller, Seahawks TE
Miller was a freshman at Arizona State when the Sun Devils beat the Hawkeyes 44-7 in 2004. He had 10 catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns in that game.
34. Jeremy Mincey, Broncos DE
Mincey recorded one tackle as a Florida senior against Iowa in the Outback Bowl after the 2005 season.
35. Michael Morgan, Seahawks LB
As a redshirt freshman at Southern California in 2007, Morgan had two tackles in a win against Nebraska.
36. Russell Okung, Seahawks OT
Okung started for Oklahoma State in 2006 and ’07 against Nebraska. The Cowboys won those games 41-29 and 45-14, respectively.
37. Vinston Painter, Broncos OT
Nebraska lost to Virginia Tech in 2008 and ’09, Painter’s redshirt and freshman seasons with the Hokies, though Painter never played against the Huskers.
38. Shaun Phillips, Broncos DE
As a senior at Purdue in 2003, Phillips had five tackles against Iowa, including four for a loss and two sacks.
39. Manny Ramirez, Broncos center
Ramirez spent five seasons at Texas Tech, starting in 2003. In that time, the Red Raiders were 2-0 against Nebraska and 1-1 against Iowa State.
40. Michael Robinson, Seahawks FB
Robinson played against Nebraska in 2002 and ’03 while at Penn State. He ran for two touchdowns in the first meeting but was limited in the second matchup. Also, Robinson was 0-3 against Iowa with the Nittany Lions.
41. O’Brien Schofield, Seahawks LB
Schofield was 2-2 against Iowa while at Wisconsin. His best game against the Hawkeyes was as a senior in 2008, when he had five tackles, including two for a loss, and a fumble recovery.
42. Malcolm Smith, Seahawks LB
As a freshman at Southern California in 2007, Smith returned a kick 31 yards against Nebraska.
43. Demaryius Thomas, Broncos WR
Thomas played against Iowa in the 2010 Orange Bowl during his final season at Georgia Tech. Iowa won 24-14 and didn’t allow Thomas to make a catch.
44. Earl Thomas, Seahawks safety
Thomas played against Nebraska only once while at Texas — the 2009 Big 12 championship game. He had two tackles and a pass breakup in the Longhorns’ 13-12 win.
45. Julius Thomas, Broncos TE
Thomas played only one season of football at Portland State, in 2010, but he did play four years of basketball. During the 2008 NCAA tournament, Thomas and the No. 16-seed Vikings played in a regional at the CenturyLink Center against top-seeded Kansas, losing 85-61.
46. Steve Vallos, Broncos center
Vallos started as a redshirt junior on the Wake Forest team that lost to Nebraska 31-3 in Lincoln in 2005.
47. Louis Vasquez, Broncos OG
At Texas Tech from 2005 to ’08, Vasquez was 2-0 against Nebraska and 2-0 against Iowa State.
48. Wes Welker, Broncos WR
Welker played for Texas Tech from 2000 to ’03. During his freshman season, Welker had three catches for 56 yards in a 56-3 loss to Nebraska. As a sophomore, Welker returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown and had four catches for 85 yards in a 41-31 loss to the Huskers.