Tag:Texas Longhorns
Posted on: December 7, 2009 11:53 am
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Posted on: November 16, 2009 6:15 am
Edited on: November 16, 2009 6:17 am

KU KO'ed: Nebraska 31, Kansas 17

It's been a running joke all season. So much so that the television announcers who called Saturday's game between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Kansas Jayhawks referenced it multiple times during their broadcast.

For several weeks, it's seemed that no one wanted to win the Big XII North Division Title.

And despite knowing otherwise, that oft-repeated "joke" has contained more than an element of truth during this topsy-turvy season.

It's not difficult to see why. Visit almost any college football message board or blog, and you'll quickly see a pattern. Scores of cynical fans repeatedly asking the same question.

Why would any team want to be offered up as a sacrifice to the undefeated Texas Longhorns in the Big XII Championship?

While I don't agree with that sentiment, and believe that Nebraska has the best chance out of the North to compete against Texas, it's understandable why some people might feel that way.

First off, let's look at the Longhorns.

Their offense is ranked second nationally in points scored at 41.6 pts/game. Aside from the Oklahoma game, which Texas won by three, the Longhorns' average margin of victory has been 10 points or more. However, most times it's been more. Much more. Texas Tech was the only other team that managed to keep within 10 points of the 'Horns when the final gun sounded. Texas defeated its eight other opponents by an average of 34.6 points, including this past Saturday as they pasted Baylor, 47-14.

Defensively, Texas is the No. 1 team in the nation, allowing an average of 232 yds/gm. In fact, the only things that Texas doesn't do exceptionally well (i.e. rank in the Top 25 in the country) is rush the ball (55th), punt (84th) and prevent sacks (48th).

Meanwhile, in the Big XII North, it's been a bumpy ride for most teams.

Colorado and Kansas have been downright awful. After winning five in a row, Kansas has now lost five in a row, the latest being a 31-17 defeat at the hands of the Huskers. Not even the fact that it was Senior Day for Todd Reesing, Kerry Meier, Darrell Stuckey and Max Onyegbule, among others, or the fact that the Jayhawks were playing for bowl eligibility could propel them to a win.

It probably wouldn't be too presumptuous to pencil in that sixth loss in a row; Kansas travels to Austin next week, though the Jayhawks still have their neutral site game against Mizzou on the horizon.

The Tigers, who have failed to find a consistent identity under Blaine Gabbert, did the Huskers a favor and beat the Wildcats, 38-12 in the battle of Big XII feline football. Coupled with the Nebraska win, that gives the Huskers a half-game lead over Kansas State.

It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that the Big XII North title will be decided next week in Lincoln when K-State comes-a-callin’.

And after Saturday, it appears that the Big Red wants it more. Either that or they have the talent to get the job done. Maybe both. 

Nebraska has had their fair share of key injuries, so it's a negative on depth.

Aside from the Kansas offensive line doing a fine job containing the Nebraska front four for most of the game, there was improvement in other key areas, which should be an encouraging sign for the Huskers going into their own Senior Day with the North title on the line.

Nebraska was much-improved on offense, piling up over 400 total yards, their highest output since the Louisiana-Lafayette game. Roy Helu, Jr. backed up his 100+ yard effort a week ago with 156 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.

In fact, it was the Big Red offense’s turn to answer the opposition for a change instead of forcing the defense to make a game-winning play, though Dejon Gomes’ third-quarter strip of Meier as he headed to the end zone certainly helped. Besides, after the Huskers’ eight turnovers against Iowa State (several in the red zone), it somehow felt fitting, as if the earth started spinning properly around its axis once more.

In the fourth quarter, Reesing, looking like the Todd Reesing of old, drove the Jayhawks 89 yards down the field (their longest scoring drive of the season) and punctuated the effort with a sweet 21–yard strike to Dezmon Briscoe to take a 17-16 lead. 

However, following Niles Paul's hefty return of a KU pooch kick, the Huskers who had scored only four offensive touchdowns in as many games were not the same Huskers to take the field. Aided by a facemask call on KU cornerback Justin Thornton, Helu bolted for 20 yards and a score.

And unlike past games when the Huskers were unable to run significant time off the clock, the Nebraska offense managed to get the ball back with 5:15 to play and cap the game with another Helu rushing touchdown.

Nebraska still made mistakes, though not as many as last week. Asante’s late hit on Reesing could have easily earned him an ejection and will most likely be reviewed by conference officials in the coming week. Likewise, Keith Williams’ tripping penalty deep in Jayhawk territory most likely caused the Huskers to settle for a field goal instead of a touchdown.

Overall, things could have been much worse for the Huskers, but they made some plays when it mattered, got some lucky breaks, cut down on penalties and managed to find the end zone more than once.

Instead, they could have had Danario Alexander compile 200 receiving yards against their defense, lose any momentum they might have had going into the game to decide the division and add another chapter to the comedy of errors also known as the 2009 Big XII North.

But on November 21st in Lincoln, when the Huskers and Wildcats face off, he who laughs last, will laugh best.

Until they face Texas.

With a chance to make history.

Posted on: October 6, 2009 10:54 am
Edited on: October 7, 2009 2:07 am

300! Nebraska 55, Louisiana Lafayette 0

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.

Besides, the game acted as a balm, temporarily soothing the pain of the catasrophic loss in Blacksburg and reminding us Husker faithful of happier times, when Nebraska would routinely hang "half-a-hundred" on their foes.  Granted it was ULL and not LSU but, for a week all seemed right in Lincoln.  The throwback aspect of the game was as entertaining as it was unusual, right down to the Blue Streak Sports Section in the World-Herald the next day.

Other than that, there wasn't much to discuss.  The team put together a strong effort, responding well after their one-point loss the week before, and no particular Husker shone much brighter than the others. 

If you're a glass-half-empty sort of person, you could comment on the difficulty that Zac Lee and Jacob Hickman had with their exchange early in the game or the reduced production of wide receivers, Niles Paul and Menelik Holt.  Defensively, you could bemoan the injuries to the Huskers' secondary (Asante, Thenarse & Amukamara), although it seems that only Thenarse will miss significant playing time, or worry that the defense gave up too much yardage on the ground to a Sun Belt team facing its third BCS opponent in three weeks.  After all, the never-satisfied Pelini still doesn’t think that his team is where it needs to be, especially on defense.

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.

Posted on: September 15, 2009 8:39 am
Edited on: September 20, 2009 2:06 am

The More Things Change...

...you know the rest.

While searching for a common thread this week, it being Week Two of college football and Week One of the NFL, I couldn't help but notice that it seemed, the more things change, the more they seemed to stay the same.

As I'm apt to do, let me include a quick note first.  My blogs do not follow any particular pattern.  Sometimes, they have very little to do with sports.  But in an attempt to be more in line with the subject matter of this website, I am writing about more sports, from weekly recaps of Nebraska football, to quick hits about the sports week that was, or more in-depth looks at particular subjects (like my well-received article on BCS controversy).

In short, I'm trying to be more serious.  More "sportsy".

I suppose the best place to start is my favorite sport, college football.  Last week, after the Colorado Buffaloes lost to their in-state rival, Colorado State, I alluded to Dan Hawkins' preseason prediction of "ten wins, no excuses".  My swipe at the Buffs was partly tongue-in-cheek as Sonny Lubick had built the Rams into a respectable program, before Steve Fairchild took the reins.  Taking that into account and adding in the rivalry factor made the loss, even though it was in Boulder, less devastating.

But last Friday, Colorado travelled to Toledo, a game that many had penciled in as a win for the Buffaloes, only to have the Rockets shell the Buffs, 54-38.  What started out as disappointment following the season opener, has turned into shock.  If Colorado loses to Wyoming this week in Boulder, it's safe to say that panic will ensue.  How bad are things in Boulder?  It's so bad that Nebraska fans are trying to bolster the spirits of their rivals in posts like this.  Meanwhile, Colorado fans want to run Hawkins (and his son) out of town, or more likely, out of state.  Nebraska fans trying to be cordial to their rival when they're reeling?  Teams' fortunes may change but Husker fans stay the same.

Last week, I also made mention of the possiblity that Oklahoma State had finally broken the Sports Illustrated cover jinx.  After their performance in week one, Dez Bryant made the cover.  Then the Houston Cougars invaded Stillwater, apparently with fate on their side, and upended the Cowboys, 45-35.  So apparently, I was wrong.  The jinx is alive and well.  The more things change...

In another college football note, the USC Trojans and their freshman QB, Matt Barkley, faced off against the Buckeyes in ESPN's marquee match-up.  The Men of Troy, despite having to play in front of a record crowd at the Horseshoe, had history on their side, having beaten their past nine Big Ten opponents, by double digits.  Unless, you've been living under a rock since Saturday, you know what happened.  USC drove down the field in the final quarter and won by three.  Same result, smaller margin.  And once again, the game caused a great rumbling across Buckeye Nation as they accused Jim Tressel of what I suggested of another high-profile coach last week; that he can't win the big game.  The more things change...

And to close out the college portion of this week's blog: Florida and Texas beat up on cupcakes, Virginia's woes continued and Notre Dame appeared to be overrated yet again.  The more things change...

Sensing a pattern yet?

Before I get into the NFL and a little baseball, let me say something about women's tennis.  Women's tennis?  Yes.  I'm not going to lie to you; I don't follow tennis.  But if I had to choose between men's and women's tennis, I'd pick women's tennis for the same reason I'd prefer to watch women's gymnastics or women's volleyball over men's.  If that makes me a lech or a perv or just a red-blooded male, I don't know and I don't care. 

The only reason I'm even mentioning this is that, while I was watching Sportscenter for football highlights, they kept showing Serena Williams' meltdown.  Now I admit, I can have a foul mouth at times, but then again I don't normally have twenty cameras on me at any given moment nor do I endorse Oreo cookies.  If you want to argue that Serena (who seems to be anything but serene) was "in the heat of battle", save it.  She's the one trying to market herself as a product with her own line of clothing line and such.  With that comes a certain responsiblity. 

If she had let loose with a stray F-bomb or something, that would be different.  But from what I saw of her tirade, I surmised (in between all the bleeps) that she wanted to forcibly place the ball into one of the line judge's body cavities.  Today, she's beaming and saying that she wants to give the woman "a big hug".  Hmm, let's see.  We have a high-profile athlete make an arse of themselves and then try to gloss it over when they realize that it could cost them.  And it could, although her sponsors are standing by her (big surprise), she could stand to lose her U.S. Open winnings in addition to being suspended.  And while her $10,000 fine may be no more than a drop in the bucket to her, the roughly half-a-mill she'd have to give-up from her winnings isn't.

Even this silly incident on which I've wasted three paragraphs (now, four) fits into this week's theme.

On to the NFL!

Welcome back to Tom Brady and Osi Umenyiora

Brady, whose absence last season was celebrated by as many who cursed it, led his team to a one-point victory over Buffalo, a game that the Bills should have and would have won until a fumble by Leodis McKelvin on a kickoff return gave the Patriots another possession.  The game was interesting in another aspect as it was Terrell Owens' first game with his new team.  He was largely ineffective, unlike his counterpart on the other sideline, Randy Moss, who along with Wes Welker, had twelve receptions each.  In the end, it was a surprising end to a game in which the Bills tried to end their 11-game skid to their AFC East rivals, but failed, and Owens was reported to have stormed out of the locker room.  The more things change...

One other thing I noticed in the Bills/Patriots game was another example of how the NFL (and the NCAA) have hampered defenses by calling penalties on what appear to be otherwise sound tackles.  In this instance, Vince Wilfork tackled Trent Edwards, but was flagged fifteen yards for going low.  The so-called "Brady" rule.  Some would call it poetic justice.  Personally, I'm getting tired of all these restrictions on the defense.  If they're going to call these type of penalties, then the quarterback, by rule, should have to wear a pink skirt on the next play. 

And speaking of officials; just when I thought that their uniforms couldn't get any uglier, especially after their recent "make-over", the NFL has brought back these hideous AFL "throwback" Technicolor vomit "unis" for the Zebras to wear.  They look like they should be selling ice cream, not calling football games.

Ok, off the soapbox.  For now.

Umenyiora, who missed all of last season, had a 37-yard fumble return for a touchdown on a ball that he swatted out of the hand of the Redskins' Jason Campbell.  Aside from Steeler SS Troy Polamalu's pick in the Thursday night game, it might have been the most athletic defensive play of the week.

Back in the AFC East, rookie Mark Sanchez had a good start against the Houston Texans, who were picked by many to be contenders this year.  I'm sure that Kubiak and Company don't want to suffer the same fate as last year's "sexy" pick in the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys.  It's no secret that many pundits had them going to the Super Bowl and well...they didn't.  The media putting a team in the playoffs before the first snap of the season?  Certainly that will stay the same.

Fellow rookie Matthew Stafford didn't fare so well on the road in New Orleans, but got to watch Drew Brees put up more Playstation numbers.  Brees threw for six scores in a rout of the Lions.  Lions bad.  Brees good.  Same and same.

In other quarterback news, the Panthers' signal caller, Jake Delhomme, threw four interceptions and added a fumble to the five picks and a fumble he had against the Cardinals in the playoffs last year.  In the same game, the Eagles' Donovan McNabb suffered a broken rib.  Suddenly, that Michael Vick signing is looking more astute, even though he won't be able to help his new team for another two weeks.  The Bears' new quarterback, Jay Cutler, either a cancerous primadonna or the missing piece of the puzzle depending upon whom you ask, threw four interceptions against the Packers.  His former team, the Broncos (with the Bears' former QB, Kyle Orton), won against the Bengals after Brandon Stokely snagged a tipped pass out of the air in the game's final seconds.

The Bears also lost Brian Urlacher for the season after he dislocated his wrist.  It was especially ironic since the oft-injured Urlacher made mention to reporters that this season he finally felt that he was at one hundred percent.  Although I suspect that he doesn't care, this will do little to silence his critics.  Urlacher, a six-time Pro Bowler, often makes various lists of the most overrated players in the NFL, from both established media outlets and fan sites alike.

Oh and a little known QB from Mississippi tied the record of starts by any position with 270.  The man he shares the record with is coincidentally, former Vikings great, Jim Marshall although there is controversy over the validity of that.

And let's not allow the quarterbacks to hog all the controversy, shall we?  I'm sure you know that LaDainian Tomlinson who is now 30, told the world that he is better than Adrian Peterson, even though "Purple Jesus" replaced L.T. as the league's rushing champion last year.  In round one of this year's battle: A.P.:180 yds, L.T.:55 yds.  Which segues us nicely into the story below.

The NFL scheduled a double bill on Monday night.  Along with the Bills and Patriots, the Raiders hosted the Chargers in an attempt to break an eleven-game losing streak against the Bolts.  Despite hanging tough for nearly four quarters and scoring on a 57-yard bomb with 2:34 left, the Raiders fell for the twelfth straight time after letting Darren Sproles into the end zone with eighteen ticks on the clock.  With Al Davis at the helm, can't we expect more of the same?

In my last NFL note, I'd like to address the NFL's antiquated blackout policy.  Yes I know it's old news.  But, in this economy and in especially hardhit areas like Detroit, can we not lift the blackout rule for a season?  As of Friday, I heard that Detroit was not alone; Jacksonville is hurting and it was questionable as to whether the defending NFC Champion Cardinals were going to be able to sellout their home opener (apparently the league extended the window on ticket sales; perhaps someone can clarify the result).

I know that I'm just one voice in the wilderness (and a small one a that), but in this era of recession, all folks want to do is escape their crappy world for three hours and watch their team on TV, yes, even the Lions.  Besides, the NFL's antiquated notion that if they air the game locally, people won't go see the game is just that...antiquated.  In my estimation of this issue, there are basically two types of fans: ones that will go to the game if they can and ones that would rather stay home with their recliner.  I don't think that threat of a blackout is going to get the latter group to shell out today's prices to see the game live.  It's time for the NFL to make a change in policy.  And not a policy in which you can watch the game on the Internet hours after its happened.  A substantive change.

FINALLY, a baseball note (and if you've stuck with me this far, bless you; drop me a line and let me know how I'm doing).  My beloved Texas Rangers have been chasing the Red Sox for the AL Wild Card.  Usually, the Rangers are out of it by Memorial Day.  This year, the Rangers have actually been good against the Red Sox and the Angels, even the Yankees.  But as of this writing, they are four-and-a-half games out in the Wild Card and six games back in the West.  And all year, the more cynical types here in the Metroplex have been predicting the demise of the Rangers.

Unfortunately this may be it.  Despite playing well against the better teams, they've recently gone 5-5 with two losses to Baltimore, two to Seattle and one to Oakland.  Even though the Rangers still have seven games to play against the Angels and the Red Sox will host Los Angeles for three games starting today, it might not be enough to make up that much ground.

Here's to hoping that the Rangers can change things and avoid the same playoff-deficient results of the past decade.
Posted on: September 8, 2009 2:07 am
Edited on: September 8, 2009 2:19 am

Musings After Week One of College Football

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...

...Husker's Take.
Posted on: December 1, 2008 1:30 am
Edited on: September 20, 2009 2:01 am
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