First of all, Saturday's win over Minnesota got Nebraska to the "magic" number of 9 wins, which is the fifth consecutive time Bo Pelini's Husker teams have done so. With possibly three more games to play, the Huskers have a shot at a 12-win season. Not bad, considering where this team was after a 63-38 blowout at Ohio State earlier this season.
But unlike many of its games this year, Nebraska came out of the chute fast Saturday, dominating the first half 24-0. (The Huskers missed a great opportunity to extend the lead by failing to convert on 2nd and goal as time ran out in the first half.)
The Huskers lead was extended to 38-0 in the third quarter before subs came in to snore through a fourth quarter that seemed to take forever to finish. Fans who have wondered why Taylor Martinez's backup(s) haven't had much PT, now know why.
Note to Bo Pelini: Some how, some way, figure out a way to get Tom Osborne to agree to run out with the team before EVERY game. Maybe that will help the Huskers focus better in future games.
MAN FOR ALL SEASONS?
Clearly, Taylor Martinez is the man not only of the hour but of the season. Number 3 (even with his penchant for some erratic play) is light-years ahead of his challengers. In fact, Martinez at times, with the exception of Braxton Miller, might be the most dangerous quarterback in the league.
STATE OF CONFUSION?
And the defense seems to be coming of age, too. I know, no one should confuse Minnesota with Ohio State or Wisconsin, but the Blackshirts (it's safe to call them that) are improving by the week.
A CROWNING MOMENT?
With only this Friday's game at Iowa standing in its way to an appearance in the B1G Championship game December 1st and a possible appearance in the Rose Bowl, the Huskers seem to be positioned for a chance at an 11- or 12-win season. Nebraska hasn't won 12 games since '99, which coincidentally, is the last time the Huskers won a conference crown.
So how does NU stack up this Friday in the Second Annual "Hickoff Classic" with the Hawkeyes in Iowa City? Since Iowa isn't bowl eligible this season, Friday's game will be their bowl game. Even though Iowa is on a five-game losing streak, expect the Hawkeyes (4-7 overall and 2-5 in the conference) to give Nebraska its best shot. With four of Iowa's losses decided by three points or less, a handful of plays could have given the Hawkeyes an 8-3 record. I know, if my uncle had boobs, he'd be my aunt.
The question is, will the Huskers overlook Iowa this week? Let's hope not. Clearly, this year's Husker team cannot afford to overlook any team on its schedule, especially with the Huskers' knack for self-destructing.
But if the Huskers play anywhere near their potential, the Huskers should (that's the operative word) win easily this Friday.
SCARLET KNIGHTS AND TERPS?
I've heard some less-than-encouraging words about the B1G's announcement this week that it has added Rutgers and Maryland to the conference effective in 2014. Some are blaming conference commish Jim Delany for his pursuit of the "almighty dollar." It's all about money? Well, duh! Of course it's about money. It always has been and always will be.
But when I hear people saying that the Scarlet Knights and Terps are somehow unworthy of membership in the B1G, it baffles me. To be sure, neither football program is what you'd call a powerhouse, but the same could be said about Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota and Purdue. Who cares?
Let's look at a little bit of history. Over the past 10 years, Maryland has had 5 seasons with at least 8 wins (9-4 in 2010, 8-5 in 2008, 9-4 in '06, 10-3 in 2003 and 11-3 in 2002). And in bowl games, the Terps have wins over East Carolina, Purdue, Nevada, Tennessee and West Virginia.
And what about Rutgers? They went 9-4 in '11 and '09, 8-5 in '08 and '07, 11-2 in '06 and 7-5 in 2004. And during those 10 years, Maryland has bowl wins over Iowa State, Central Florida, North Carolina State, Ball State and Kansas State.
To say these two universities don't deserve a place in the B1G is puzzling. And for traveling Husker fans, they can now look forward to exploring the sights in New York City and the history and awesome seafood in Maryland. Let the games be played!
VIKINGS AND MUSTANGS
My alma mater, Omaha North High School, fell seconds short (17-14) of winning its first ever Nebraska Class A football championship Monday night at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. But the game was one of the most exciting high school football games I've ever seen. Great players, great plays and several lead changes late in the 4th quarter.
NFL'S OT IS SNOOZE TIME
I watched the second half of Sunday's NFL game between the Browns and Dallas. I was waiting for the start of the Denver-San Diego game when the Dallas game went in to OT. The NFL's overtime rules are, in a word: BORING! The NFL should adopt college football's version. Immediately. Maybe extend the starting distance to the 35 yard line instead of college's 25 yard line. But keep everything else the same.
50 AND COUNTING
THE YAWN OF MAN
I remember the day clearly. It was unseasonably warm that Saturday, November 21, 1987. It was another classic showdown with the Oklahoma Sooners. Number 1 vs number 2. Other than the weather, the most unusual thing that happened leading up to that game was the smack that had come from the mouths of Husker quarterback Steve Taylor and OLB Broderick Thomas.
And there may have been good reason for the optimism. To be sure, the Huskers had taken over the #1 spot from the second-ranked Sooners that same week. But despite the Huskers having lost to the Sooners each of the prior three years, Taylor assured Husker fans that not only were the Huskers going to beat Oklahoma that day, but the game "wasn't even going to be close." His bravado was echoed by the ever so shy (!) Thomas. This type of hype was seldom, if ever, heard publicly from members of an Osborne-coached team.
Not even close? Husker players assuring fans not only of a win but a BIG win for Nebraska? I ate it up. Took the bait, hook, line and sinker. For the first (and only time) in my life, I paid a scalper for a pair of tickets. "Not going to be close," I said to myself as I shelled out the cash for the tickets.
Back then in the days before the Tunnel Walk ritual, I would position myself along the ropes near the entrance to the football field just before kickoff. Fans liked to high-five (it wasn't called that back then) the players just as they waited to run onto the field. And sure enough, there was Husker quarterback Steve Taylor right in front of me, not more than 10 feet away. We were just moments away from a huge game with the Sooners. No. 1 vs No. 2. National TV audience. A packed house at Memorial Stadium. This was Steve Taylor, our starting QB, the player who guaranteed a Husker rout that day. As I looked at him, I'll never forget what he did.
Not a polite one, not a bashful one. Not one he tried to cover up. But a big, bold, Phi Beta Kappa yawn. This was minutes away from the Big 8 showdown with #2 Oklahoma? This was our starting quarterback? Yawning?
It was then that I knew we were in for trouble that day. Big trouble.
Sure, the Huskers led at the half, but only 7-0. I said to myself "This is Oklahoma's game. We're going to lose." Sure enough, OU beat us for the fourth year in a row, 17-7. And the rest is history.
You may contact the writer at HuskerDan@cox.net.