Passion trumps logic. Last month at our fifth annual "Husker Fans Salute The Troops" (www.huskersalute.org) event in Lincoln, former Husker great, Trev Alberts was the Sunday brunch keynote speaker.
His message was about overcoming adversity and how passion often can overcome overwhelming odds.
NO "BEES-NESS" "Aerodynamically, a it's impossible for a bee to fly. It's also impossible for man to land on the moon. But some how, bees can and do fly and man did land on the moon. Passion trumps logic," he said.
His words were especially meaningful in the wake of Nebraska's 28-24 win over Michigan State.
MISFITS? For fifty-nine minutes and 53 seconds, the Huskers never enjoyed a lead in the game. And for the second time in three weeks, the Huskers found themselves trailing on the road by double digits late in the fourth quarter and once again, this band of misfits found a way to win.
HUSKERS' OWN "MAGIC" The only Husker lead came with :06 left on the game clock. Michigan State is known for its famous "Magic" player (Earvin "Magic" Johnson), but Nebraska's version, QB Taylor "T-Magic" Martinez, was the hero of this game. All Martinez did was engineer two fourth-quarter touchdown drives that saved the day for the Huskers. T-Magic lofted a perfect 5-yard strike to the corner of the end zone to seldom used sophomore QB-turned receiver Jamal Turner for the winning touchdown.
RELENTLESS There is no point in rehashing Nebraska's self-destructing ways (it's become the norm this year). And say what you want about this group of players who at times are woefully undisciplined, mistake prone and disorganized, they have one major quality: a relentless resolve to some how, some way, find a way to win. No, this doesn't excuse the sloppy play, but their determination is truly amazing.
Spartans will no doubt point to the officials for "giving" the game to Nebraska. But the questionable calls hit both teams.
To be sure, the Huskers' 80-yard drive that gave NU the lead was aided by a critical DPI penalty. After T-Magic hit Quincy Enunwa with a 22-yard strike, the Huskers had a first down at their own 42 yard line. And after three plays, the Huskers found themselves faced with a critical 4th and 10.
DESTINY'S CHILD Ten yards to destiny. Not to worry.
With ice water in his veins, T-Magic hit Kyler Reed for a 38-yard completion that put NU in business at the Spartan 20 yard line. With a first down with :31 to go, TM's pass fell incomplete. The next play, TM was almost sacked, but managed to toss it out of bounds. Had he been tackled in bounds, NU would have been looking for a field goal attempt to send the game into OT. But on 3rd down, MSU was flagged with a DPI penalty that put NU at the Michigan State 5 yard line. On 1st down, Martinez's pass to Kyler Reed fell incomplete, setting the stage for the winning TD with :06 on the clock.
ANOTHER HUGE PENALTY And what about the MSU INT for a TD late in the game that was nullified by an illegal hit penalty that instead gave the ball to the Spartans at their own 10 yard line with 10:40 to go in the game? Had there been no flag, the game would have been over for the Huskers. Instead Sparty went three and out and gave Nebraska new life.
After Turner's TD, Spartan Stadium was filled with stunned silence. Nebraska had done the unimaginable. The unthinkable. Passion saved the day. Logic will have to wait at least one more week.
PENN STATEMENT PSU first year head coach Bill O'Brien may win this year's B1G Conference Coach of the Year for his success in leading this year's 6-3 Penn State team to respectability in the wake of the Sandusky scandal that rocked Penn State a year ago. To be sure, after back-to-back losses to Ohio and Virginia to start the year, O'Brien and his Lions have done a great job of salvaging what many believed before the year began would be a very long season for the Lions.
As far as this Saturday's game goes, expect more of the same from Nebraska. My pick is the Huskers in a very close, sloppy game.