Posted on: October 9, 2009 7:23 am
Edited on: October 24, 2009 9:17 pm
For three quarters, I'm sure that most of Husker Nation was feeling the same way: Here we go again.
After dispatching the Ragin' Cajuns 55-0, our beloved Cornhuskers were getting embarrassed on a national stage once more. All that talk of Nebraska's inability to win a road game against a ranked opponent, the same mantra over and over again by media types of every stature.
Shawn Watson tried running Helu inside with poor results. In the third quarter, Helu tried the sidelines with only slight improvement. Zac Lee, despite his upbeat demeanor, was throwing above and behind receivers. The flooded field was further flooded by yellow flags on both teams. Time and time again, the Huskers' transgressions seemed to come at the most inopportune moments; the proverbial self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the foot. Special teams were almost impossible to watch, causing more than one Husker fan's heart to catch in their throat each time a punt by either squad was attempted and well before the safety that started the scoring for Mizzou. Admirably, the blackshirtless "Blackshirts", anchored by Ndamukong Suh, kept NU in the game. Yet, seemingly certain interceptions bounced from their grasp and once again they gave the impression that they were unable to finish a complete half of football as the second quarter expired. My honest and (somewhat) unbiased opinion? Gabbert's knee was down.
So for three quarters, visions of how fiery Coach Bo was going to berate his team were flashing through my mind while I pieced together the criticisms I intended to unleash on the Huskers (and their staff) in my commentary.
Then, while the rain kept falling in Columbia, the clouds abruptly parted for the Huskers.
Three plays into the final stanza and, like a bolt of lightning from those same rain clouds, Niles Paul benefited from a blown assignment in the Mizzou secondary (sound familiar?) and a beautiful pass from Lee which resulted in a 56-yard touchdown strike. Even from my comfortable (and dry) seat on my living room sofa some five hundred miles away, I could feel a cold wave of apprehension and disbelief ripple through Faurot Field.
Momentum had swung in an instant. Husker fans everywhere hoped that Nebraska could capitalize on it and erase a five-point deficit. They didn't have to wait long. On the Tigers' first play from scrimmage following the kickoff, Ndamukong Suh showed again why he is a man among boys, as he took to the air to intercept a Gabbert pass. Prior to that, the former Husker-commit hadn't thrown a pick all season. It wouldn't be his last. Suddenly, the crack in Missouri's composure had become a fissure; one large enough for Niles Paul to run through again and score his second touchdown, a thirteen yard pass from a resurgent Lee. Although, the Huskers failed to convert their two-point try, the damage was done. The thoroughly soaked gold and black clad locals, hoping to see their team defeat Nebraska for the third year in a row, a feat not accomplished in most of their lifetimes, could only stand in the rain with their mouths agape.
Meanwhile, the Husker faithful who had made this rain-drenched journey rejoiced; nothing could dampen their spirits.
Especially when a mere three plays into Mizzou's next possession, Dejon Gomes, neatly stepped in front of another Gabbert pass near the midfield stripe and took it to the Tigers' ten-yard line. Mike McNeill ran a delayed route on third down, made the grab, and waltzed into the endzone with nary a Tiger in sight for the Huskers' third touchdown of the quarter.
With each ensuing score, the Tiger fans became further dejected, further deflated and farther from the stadium as they sought shelter from not only the garden-variety rain, but the Big Red reign as well.
On Mizzou's next drive, the Nebraska defense seemed to soften, allowing the Tigers to gain some yardage, aided by a weak horse collar penalty called on Suh, but then found their aggressiveness once more. Following a holding call on Missouri, Gabbert threw four straight incompletions and surrendered the ball to the Huskers.
While running out the clock, Helu finally broke loose for a 41-yard gain, then punched in Nebraska's final score from the five-yard line on the ensuing play. A handful of meaningless seconds ticked away into the soggy night.
One of the most dramatic turnarounds in Husker history was complete. An ESPN analyst quipped that the rain hid the Tigers' tears.
It was a vindicating win for a team that would not give up. Yes, it's true that Coach Pelini will have a laundry list of items for his team, items where they need improvement. But for one quarter of one game on one miserably wet night in enemy territory, the Huskers played up to their potential like the great teams of the past. As the joyous Huskers head home to Lincoln, they have to know that, as a program, they're headed in the right direction as well.
Posted on: October 6, 2009 10:54 am
Edited on: October 7, 2009 2:07 am
It's been a few days since the Huskers' convincing win against Louisiana-Lafayette and just a couple more days until the Huskers' next big test of the season. Meanwhile, I've been silent, only leaving a place-holder where my commentary should be. In true Pelini-like fashion, I'm not going to offer any excuses.
Or if you’re like me, you could complain about Matt Davison’s work in the booth, as footballnut correctly guessed from my teaser. Yes, I like my Husker broadcasts to have a Nebraska flavor with a little homerism mixed in, but sometimes Davison’s work is downright cringeworthy. Nevertheless, his playing style fit the mold of the Osborne-style receivers back in the day (lots of blocking and a key reception here and there), his efforts are still sprinkled in the Huskers’ record book today and his name will forever be etched into Husker lore for being in the right place at the right time on an unforgettable early evening in Columbia, Missouri. And fear not Husker fans, he is nowhere near my all-time least favorite announcers: #1 Brent Musburger, #2 Kirk Herbstreit, #3 Brad Sham.
If you tend to spend your time on the sunny side of the street, you could talk about Larry Asante’s 74-yard interception return for a touchdown (right before he injured his ankle), or maybe Matt O’Hanlon’s fumble recovery (though I doubt you will). Asante’s score was the Huskers’ first pick-six by a DB since Fabian Washington did it against Arizona State in 2002. Other positives were the Huskers D sacking the previously unsacked Ragin’ Cajun’ QB’s, handing ULL their worst loss since Texas clobbered them 60-3 in 2005 and shutting them out for the first time since North Texas in 2002. Perhaps most important (in the long-term) was the play of Cody Green (7 of 8 for 62 yards) and Rex Burkhead (112 all-purpose yards). The Texas duo hooked up for a 24-yard score off of a shovel pass in the fourth quarter.
But what I’d really like to take away from this game is that Nebraska rebounded well after a gut-wrenching road loss. ULL provided the perfect “palate-cleanser” if you will, chasing away some of the bitterness after losing a game they should have won. And this team, already road tested, should be able to go TIGER HUNTING and atone for last year’s 52-17 drubbing. Yes, the Tigers come into the game undefeated, but two of those wins were more than lackluster (27-20 over Bowling Green & 31-21 @ Nevada).
So…Huskers win. Oh, and I hope to see some of you at our next 300 consecutive sellouts.
Tags: 300th Consecutive Sellout, Arizona State Sun Devils, Bo Pelini, Bowling Green Falcons, Cody Green, Fabian Washington, Jacob Hickman, Larry Asante, Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns, LSU Tigers, Matt Davison, Matt O'Hanlon, Menelik Holt, Missouri Tigers, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, Niles Paul, North Texas Mean Green, Omaha World Herald, Prince Amukamara, Rex Burkhead, Rickey Thenarse, Sun Belt Conference, Texas Longhorns, Tom Osborne, Zac Lee
Posted on: September 8, 2009 2:07 am
Edited on: September 8, 2009 2:19 am
We live in a sports world in which everyone is trying to offer up bold predictions and issue ominous statements in order to get a soundbite. I prefer to think that you can't tell anything after one week of football and that pre-season polls are useless.
The reason that I open with this is that I'm tired of hearing how Oklahoma's title hopes are irreparably damaged, as greviously wounded as Sam Bradford's shoulder. News Flash: A team doesn't have to finish an undefeated season to hoist the crystal football, though it helps, Didn't Florida lose to Ole Miss last season? Weren't the LSU Tigers beaten twice in their 2007 Championship campaign?
Yes, the majority of BCS National Champions were undefeated, but my point is that one game does not a season make. Besides, recent reports have announced that Bradford has already begun his rehab and should be back in plenty of time for the Sooners' date against the Longhorns in October. On a side note, props to Texas' Colt McCoy who had the class to send a "get well" text to Bradford.
So members of the media (including those in the employ of CBS), let's tap the brake a little, shall we?
I think that perhaps a more interesting question might be: Is Bob Stoops overrated as a "big game" football coach?
Sure, his 2000 squad came out of nowhere and won the title, but since then, his teams have been embarrassed on a national stage more times than he would care to be reminded. Three losses in the BCS title game (to LSU, USC and Florida, respectively), this year's loss to BYU as well as a season-opener against TCU in 2005, and of course, the infamous Fiesta Bowl against Boise State, which many college football fans regard as one of the best games ever played.
OU fans, if you're reading this, please don't get upset. I'm not saying Stoops is a bad coach. Also, I respect your team. I'm just saying that, in some very notable games in which his troops should have been prepared and passionate to play, they've just looked bad. If you can name me one game of consequence since their most recent national championship (other than a couple of Red River Rivalries or Big XII title games against overmatched opponents) that OU has won, I'll reconsider my opinion of Stoops. And Missouri and Texas Tech do not count; it's my contention that both were overrated when they had the national spotlight cast upon them, then promptly stumbled out of its glow.
Next up, Erin Andrews, ESPN's "It Girl". On September 11th, she's going to tell you, and Oprah, and an audience of millions, what a "nightmare" it's been since that nude video of her popped up on the Internet. Really? A nightmare, huh? That's why you're going to relate the story in front of the biggest audience you could find? Hmm, interesting. The lady doth protest too much, methinks. Sounds more like someone trying to squeeze as much mileage from said "nightmare" than someone truly scarred by the event.
Florida State and Miami proved that the ACC could put on a good show after the majority of the conference laid an egg. At least Virgina Tech lost to Alabama. Respectable. As was Maryland's fall to Cal, Wake's loss to Baylor and NC State's defeat by the Gamecocks. But Virgina losing to William and Mary? Duke losing to Richmond? I have a question for both Al Groh and David Cutcliffe, a question made famous by a series of Southwest Airlines commercials, "Wanna get away?"
Which is the same question I'd pose Colorado Buffaloes' head coach, Dan Hawkins who boldy predicted a 10-win season this year after only managing to cobble together thirteen wins in his first three seasons. It's true that, according to the "experts", Colorado has put together some good recruiting classes under Hawkins, but his prediction sounded more like a man's desperate plea to save his job than a guarantee. If his team continues its current ways, no "prediction" will change Hawkins' fate.
It appears that the SI cover jinx may be weakening. On the magazine's college football preview issue, they featured four different covers for different regions. Oklahoma State was on the one in my mailbox. Sure enough, the Cowboys tamed the Bulldogs. I guess all that money from T. Boone Pickens made a difference after all. But seriously, I kid. Oklahoma State is picked to be this year's "Texas Tech". I hope not. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see OSU break the OU/UT logjam atop the Big XII's South Division. It's just that we all saw how the Red Raiders went out with a whimper once everyone had drank the Kool-Aid. Incidentally, there still may be some validity to that ol' jinx after all; Oregon was on one of the alternate covers, and we all know what happened to them.
Finally, nobody saw it unless they bought the pay-per-view, but the much heralded Nebraska recruit, Cody Green came into the Huskers' season opener in the second half to spell Zac Lee and get some valuable playing time. He promptly ripped off a 49-yard run in which he almost scored, causing echoes of the great Tommie Frazier to reverberate throughout Memorial Stadium. Bo Pelini is slowly and quietly building a winner in the Land of the Corn. Yes, I know. Like I said above, it's only one game. But it's also MY blog. And there's a reason it's named...
Tags: ACC, Al Groh, Alabama Crimson Tide, Baylor Bears, BCS Championship, Big XII, Bo Pelini, Bob Stoops, Boise State Broncos, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, CBS, Cody Green, Colorado Buffaloes, Colt McCoy, Dan Hawkins, David Cutcliffe, Duke Blue Devils, Erin Andrews, Fiesta Bowl, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Georgia Bulldogs, LSU Tigers, Maryland Terrapins, Miami Hurricanes, Mississippi Rebels, Missouri Tigers, Nebraska Cornhuskers, North Carolina State Wolfpack, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Oprah, Oregon Ducks, Red River Rivalry, Richmond Spiders, Sam Bradford, South Carolina Gamecocks, Southwest Airlines, Sports Illustrated, T. Boone Pickens, TCU Horned Frogs, Texas Longhorns, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Tommie Frazier, USC Trojans, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, William and Mary Tribe, Zac Lee
Posted on: December 1, 2008 1:30 am
Edited on: September 20, 2009 2:01 am
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