On a cold, misty day not unlike those found in Nebraska in mid-November, the Cornhuskers avenged last year's 19-7 Holiday Bowl loss to the Washington Huskies. On Nebraska took the dogs to the woodshed last September in Seattle, winning 56-21 in a game that wasn't that close. And after Nebraska stumbled in last year's Big 12 championship game, the Huskers found themselves in a rematch with the same pesky Huskies. Nebraska looked disinterested in that game, but the Huskies, after winning their last three games of 2010, were excited to be in a bowl game and were eager to avenge their earlier blowout loss to the Huskers.
RETURN OF THE RED
In a similar fashion in Lincoln last Saturday, Nebraska sought (and got) a measure of revenge by outlasting (?) the Huskies 51-38 in a game many Husker fans (including me) thought was over early in the fourth quarter. To be sure, the Huskers led 44-17, but a 21 point fourth quarter rally by the Huskies, made for some nervous moments for Nebraska fans.
Here are my thoughts on the game:
1.) Not since the '78-'79 seasons has Nebraska faced the same opponent three times in two seasons. NU beat Oklahoma 17-14 in Lincoln on November 11, 1978 and met in a rematch in '79 Orange Bowl (Huskers lost 31-24). And the following season, the Huskers played the Sooners again, losing November 24th, 17-14 in Norman.
2.) The three games the Huskers had with Washington, happened within one calendar year - a record that may not be equaled for a very long time.
3.) We're seeing Beck's offense slowly but surely (stop calling me Shirley) mature before our eyes and with that, the development of Taylor Martinez. He seems to be realizing that the offense doesn't have to rely on his legs for his team to be successful.
4.) To be sure, Husker OC Tim Beck called a great game. Despite playing about 8 guys on the O-line, the offense never seemed to miss a beat.
5.) And the weapons Beck has this year! Kenny Bell, Ameer "Bist Du Schon" Abdullah, Aaron "The Barron" Green, Braylon Heard, Tyler Legate (!), Ben Cotton, Jamal "The Burner" Turner, Rex "Captain America" Burkhead, Kyler Reed and Taylor Martinez can take it to the house every time they touch the ball. And when (not if) this group gets in synch, look out. You have to go back to the 90s to find a Husker offense that is this loaded. (Or maybe 1983?)
6.) I predict that before his Husker career has ended, Ameer "Bist Du Schon" Abdullah will own all the Nebraska return records. The only problem is that opponents are going to realize that it's not too smart to keep kicking to him. He is absolutely electrifying. Saturday, every time he went back to return a kick, the crowd stood.
7.) Saturday, was as loud as I can remember at a Husker home game. My ears were still ringing Sunday. The "HUSKER-POWER" chant before the game was awesome. I knew the Huskers were going to play well-unlike last year's Texas game when the crowd was not into it.
8.) I now know why Bo doesn't hand out Blackshirts until the season is well underway. Giving up over 400 yards in the last two games, the Blackshirts have been average at best.
9.) We knew that losing Dejon Gomes, Eric Hagg and Prince Amukamara to the NFL was going to have an impact on the defense this year. But no one knew that we'd also lose cornerback Alfonzo Dennard for the first three games.
10.) And now Jared Crick is dinged up.
11.) CB Andrew Green is, well, still green. And Saturday, Husky QB Keith Price made the Huskers pay for his (Green's) inexperience. Green will be fine, but he's having to learn the position by fire.
12.) Brett Maher's firs- quarter booming punt got a standing ovation from the partisan crowd at Memorial Stadium Saturday. It was a thing of beauty! Unfortunately, it was nullified by a penalty, but the junior kicker from Kearney has been a pleasant surprise so far this year. Not since Adi Kunalic's kickoff split the north uprights in the 2007 Iowa State game in Lincoln has a crowd given a non-field goal kick such an ovation.
13.) I hung out at the HuskerMax tailgate party before the game. Visited with former Husker running back ('90-'93) Calvin Jones for a while. He asked me what perspective I use when I write for HuskerMax.
"Calvin, I was in the band," I told him. (I'm not sure if he rolled his eyes - he was wearing sunglasses...)
14.) I also met Jordan Wakefield, who is 6' tall and weighs in at 250 pounds. And yes, he's only in the eighth grade in Lincoln. (He's pictured with Calvin.) Barney Cotton, Carl Pelini, are you paying attention?
15.) Many of you (and you know who you are), have said that because of the offense and defensive struggles this season, the Huskers are going to get run out of Madison, Wisconsin October 1st. Not so fast, as Lee Corso would say.
16.) I submit that the Huskers' non-conference schedule (with the exception of UT/Chattanooga) has been much more difficult than the Badgers' schedule that includes UNLV (1-2), No. Illinois (1-2), Oregon State (0-2) and this week's opponent, FCS South Dakota. The Huskers' schedule doesn't guarantee a win, but the Badgers are going to know they were in a game.
17.) Nebraska may not see a better running back this year than Washington's Chris Polk (he'll be a 1st or 2nd round NFL draft pick either next spring or in 2013), or better quarterbacks than Fresno State's Derek Carr or Washington's Keith Price. I know, our inexperienced secondary helped make those QBs look good, but those players are really good.
COLORADANS FOR NEBRASKA
I watched the Husker-Fresno State game (September 10th) at Jackson's Sport's Bar in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Jackson's is the official football watch site of the Coloradans For Nebraska. The place was packed with red-clad Husker fans ranging in age from David Kolowski's daughter who was born April 2nd, to geezers my age. Thanks to the kindness of Husker transplants Amy (from Waterloo, Iowa but lived 14 years in Omaha), her husband Rich (from Pierce, Nebraska) and their friend Ryan, they let my family and me (all seven of us!) sit at their table to watch the game. Amy, Rich and Ryan are in the multi-line insurance "bidness." Once again, thanks!
I mentioned David Kolowski, former Husker deep snapper who wrote an excellent book ("Husker Diary") based on his playing days at Nebraska. He runs a chiropractic clinic in the Ft. Collins area.
THE FRACTURED BIG 12
For those wanting to reach for the Kleenex at the thought of Big 12 bottom feeders (in football) like Iowa State, Kansas, Baylor and Kansas State not having an athletic conference to play in, just remember all those 11-1 conference votes in which Nebraska was the lone dissenter. It is great to look in the rear view mirror and see the conference that Texas had bullied for the past 16 years crumble. Good bye and good riddance.
HUSKER FANS' SALUTE TO THE TROOPS UPDATE
We are proud to announce that Adrian Fiala will be the feature speaker at this year's "Salute" brunch. Adrian brings a wealth of Husker football knowledge. And Adrian has a deep appreciation for our military, too. In fact, he recently told me that he almost went to the Air Force Academy to play football back in the middle 60s. Instead, he took Bob Devaney's offer to play at Nebraska. The rest, as they say, is history. "Salute" will be held the weekend the Huskers travel to Minneapolis to play the Gophers.
THE "REAL" HUSKER DAN
This week, I sent Omaha World Herald sportswriter Tom Shatel an email about a column he wrote last week. Toward the end of his piece, he included a segment from "someone we'll call Husker Dan." Several people contacted me wanting to know if I'd written it. I want it to be known that I had nothing to do with the piece. I already have a nice venue to for my opinions - HuskerMax.com.
WE'RE NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE
Also on September 10th, I attended the Colorado State-Northern Colorado football game at CSU in Ft. Collins. Beer is sold up until the beginning of the third quarter, but more interesting than that, was how little the football game meant to the fans. The game was, for many, a distraction. It was a beautiful, sun-drenched day, and fewer than 26,000 people showed up. There were 100s, maybe even a few thousand people near the concession stands who were drinking, partying and texting one another. Be thankful - VERY thankful that you are a Husker fan and that our football games really do matter.
HUSKERS' "DREAM" CONFERENCE
Husker fans, now it the time you can submit to me your ideal conference you'd like the Huskers to play in. Forget current alliances etc. Send me your 12, 14 or 16 collection of teams you'd like to see the Huskers compete in. And don't forget to include the name of the conference. Send your ideas to HuskerDan@cox.net.