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  • How 62-36 informs 70-31

    A Husker football commences this Saturday, when new memories are made, legacies are drawn, and YouTube highlights painted for a new generation. But in this time of prelude, Husker fans should revisit the pain that ended the season prior. Do not misunderstand me: I am loathe to bring up the 70-31 no-show versus you-know-who. Rather, I only mean to consider if the devastating loss has revealed systemic issues in the Nebraska program, like a certain loss to end the regular season eleven years ago.


    Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
    I am of course speaking of Colorado 2001, a devastation that defined a decade of disappointments and giving up at the first signs of trouble. The circumstances and immediate fallout of both losses contain similarities and differences. Both of those teams had played remarkably easy, home-based schedules, and coasted into their respective cliff dives. While Frank Solich was just starting to live up to Post-Tom Osborne expectations, Bo Pelini has had the advantage of following the anathematized Steve Pederson-Bill Callahan regime and being the fan base's golden boy. While the 2001 team end up getting shellacked in their bowl game, the 2012 team did enough in theirs to show they were still accepting coaching. Leading into the 2002 season, doom and gloom permeated Husker program facing a tougher schedule without Eric Crouch to mask so many flaws and talent deficiencies. But the 2013 teams appears certain of reaching Pelini's benchmark of nine wins against a soft schedule, as the high powered, comeback-kings on offense return, and 2012's trainwreck defense gets a reboot. The relative optimism for this season is surprising, in light of the video evidence.

    But for those who can't stomach the highlights (I can't blame you), let me clarify history: the 2012 Big 10 Title Game loss was far worse than 2001 Colorado. 62-36 happened in front of a hostile road crowd, against an opponent who had it in for Nebraska after five years of Husker close escapes. After falling behind 35-3, Nebraska actually clawed their way back to get the score to 42-30 in the third quarter, not an easy feat with Nebraska's run-first offense. In the Big 10 Title Game, there was not one point in the game where it looked like Nebraska was even trying to limit the damage or make the score respectable, i.e., Melvin Gordon's 60-yards of tackle-snapping, followed by no-coverage on Sam Arnenson's touchdown catch when it would have been just as convenient for the Badgers to run out the clock. And even after that lay down, it shouldn't have been hard for Kenny Bell and Company to get big pass plays to narrow the gap. But they didn't, so the question remains, is Nebraska poised to fall further off the cliff this year?

    Here's what should be read into that loss: Nebraska had to pay for the luck in those double-digit comebacks last year, just like they had to pay for the luck of three easy road games going into the black-and-gold Buffaloes' den in 2001. Remember how Pelini was popping his gums off after the Penn State, bad-replay-angle win? There was an air of invincibility around him then that seemed too good to be true, which in fact it was. Factor all the travel, and that Nebraska is an undersized team to begin with, and you saw the results versus Wisconsin. Nebraska should have been the upstart that day, claiming their long-awaited title, like Colorado was on that day in Boulder in 2001. They weren't

    No one will know if the Big Title Game loss is systemic until the end of November, or until Nebraska turns over five times in a “shocking” loss at Purdue. There is relative luck again this year, as Nebraska faces an easy schedule. Let's hope that is enough to mask the flaws on the new YouTube montages.

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    Derek Johnson is a Seward, Nebraska native who works for his family's organic farm seed company, Blue River Hybrids, and is a freelance writer and commission photographer. He has been a contributor to Husker Max since 2013, and is a former contributor to the website Husker Locker. Visit his blog, derekjohnsonmuses.com, and follow him on Twitter @derekjohnson05 for regular updates.
    Comments 20 Comments
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      This article reeks of ignorance. You conveniently forget how we were without our starting DT. Cameron Meredith was actually playing DT. Our starting center was also out. Think about that... our leaders on BOTH lines was missing and the rest of the team was a MASH unit of injury. With that many players hurt & banged up and without the best players, leaders, and anchors on both lines...

      Not to mention that Wisconsin didn't have to try to win their division with OSU & Penn St being under bans. So they phoned it in those last two weeks before the game, and very clearly were installing new wrinkles, game planning, and looking ahead to us. Not to mention that Wiscy had all their roster back and healthy.

      Combine all that with the known difficulty of having to beat the same team twice in a given season and it's the perfect storm for exactly what happened. But then there's always the idiots who don't look into it any further than the scoreboard & cry foul.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Derek look back, really? You shovel less organic fertilizer than you spewed in this article. Its time to look forward, enjoy the experience and cheer for the team instead of the incessant critisizing. No wonder Bo gives more access to the national media than you hacks in Lincoln
    1. mkasson's Avatar
      mkasson -
      Derek;
      Perhaps it's exposure to chemicals on the family farm that did it, but your premise that we played a "remarkably easy, home based schedule" in 2013 is laughable. I stopped reading there, as yours is the first opinion that I've read stating that our schedule was "easy". I believe most "experts" rated it among the top 15 or so in the country.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      "Remarkably easy, home-based schedules" Are you kidding me? Ohio St., Wisconsin, Northwestern, Penn St., Michigan and Michigan St. does not constitute an easy schedule. Please, stick with organic farming.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Your such a pot stirrer Derek it's pathetic what you so called journalists must do to get people to read! Much like national media believes in if it bleeds it leads! You punks have to create controversy out if thin air and then hide behind Si called 'fair and balanced journalism!' This article makes my blood boil!!! And hey I that's the point right?
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Weak schedule last year, awful schedule this year and in coming years. NU has been relegated to the B12 North all over again with B10 realignment. The defense was terrible last year - so bad that without immense offensive production NU would have had at least 2 additional losses. NU rarely plays a ranked opponent (maybe 2 or 3/season). If Derek is right, NU will lose to Michigan, and then lose one of the MSU/PSU/NW games. The rest of the games should be wins regardless of poor defensive play because of the weakness of opponents. UCLA will be the first test for the defense.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Pelini takes over a team that was the worst in school history and averages 9 plus wins a year!!! An I happy about the losses, no! Am I concerned from 70-31 and 63-38 losses, yeah! Do I think even a sixth grader can see the undertones of you and several of your colleagues in the press are reaching for, yep! You are gutless! The mans won nine games a year! We will get championships again! I believe Bo will deliver! Took Tom 20 plus years to bring home a national title! Compare the two records in the first five years of each coach! I'm not saying Pelini is Osborne but because of jackasses like you Tom nearly was fired after five years! You want to be a fair journalist get your facts in order!!!
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Since we did not play Colorado twice that year your comparison is a joke. I guess u also, forgot we also beat Wiscy last year.

      Go Big Red!!!
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      2013 is this year, mkasson. This year's schedule for NU is easier than last year's. Only probable loss is at Michigan, so if NU wins all the games it "should", 11-2 (including a loss to OSU in the CCG).
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Yeah derek has been sniffing to many barrels of bug killer. You'd think he was from the "W" state the way he belittles the Big Red. I too was disappointed at such a poor showing against "w". However I would never speak in such negative terms of my team. People like derek(doesn't deserve capitolization) need to come down off their high horses and keep the faith. And there are a lot of high horsed Nebraskans. The Big Red will be back. If not this year or the next, no matter, they "Will Be Back". So derek go service your tractors, feed your horses and cattle, pick your corn. Come Saturday stay home turn off the Tv. Big Red doesn't need iffy Fans like you. GO BIG RED! YEEAAHHH!
    1. 1audiofile's Avatar
      1audiofile -
      Certainly the Bo Pelini teams have had pretty good defenses over the years. Particularly on pass defense. The rush defense has been inconsistent 10 years ago and last year. If you go back in his career a little further he coached at LSU for 3 years. And a great three years they were. Each year the team ended 3rd in the nation for defensive stats. That said, something else is visible... I am not a coach so take the comments for whatever they are or are not worth. Bo seems to do a very good job creating a defense based upon the expected offense they will see on the field come gameday. Where there seems to have been problems have been called games with a "Pelini collapse". What seems to happen is the opposing coach changes up their offense and Nebraska's finely tuned defense has a systematic failure because of the way the opposition attacks the defense. In 2003 it was a motion and counter which just keep working most the whole game. Actually, the Wisconsin division game seemed to have that same element introduced just for that game. It certainly was not in the first game or any other game that year. Does this mean that Bo's defense can't handle it? No, there is a strategy that will work but the opposing end needs to stay at home to cut off the counter blockers and runner. Hard to change muscle memory in the middle of a game though. Bo is a great coach and this is another challenge he will conquer. Look at the game against OU for the Big 12 championship. NU had no offense to speak of, but a great defense. That has changed. Maybe he can bring this young defense along quickly. I hope and expect so. He is a better coach every year.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      agree mkasson---am sick of reading all the negative reports from these so called experts--all any of them do is bring down the Huskers--really can't see where our schedule is any softer than the majority of teams out there
    1. DL - OK HUSKER's Avatar
      DL - OK HUSKER -
      How can you logically compare the two? Colorado had the best offensive line they probably ever had with a mean tight end - that mad it even harder to deal with. We play defensive ends at DT and it caught up with them. The question should be, why didn't the other teams figure out NU was only 1.5 deep at DT?

      Bad read **********
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      you mean 2012, right?
    1. Twelve String's Avatar
      Twelve String -
      So, let me get this straight. It was all just blind luck that NU came from behind in those games last year. The funny thing about luck is that it’s mostly the well-coached team with a number of skill players who always seem to have the most luck.

      You are the only person I have ever heard say that following Steve Pederson and Bill Callahan was an advantage. Bo not only had to repair a program that was falling off the cliff you are so fond of referencing, but he had to do it AND change conferences 3 after he took over.

      You think all of that is an advantage?

      Here is what SD Nation had to say about Nebraska’s 2012 schedule. “2012 Schedule Analysis: Preliminarily, the Huskers have the toughest schedule of all Big Ten teams in 2012…. Nebraska has tough trips to Ohio State, Michigan State, and Iowa, and hosts tough games against Wisconsin and Michigan.”

      The Bleacher Report listed the Huskers as having the fourth toughest schedule in the Big Ten last year.

      I know, I know. Doing research for an article is hard and time consuming. It took me all of five minutes to find the 2012 schedule information on the Internet

      I can see why you make a living at farming. You sure couldn’t make it as a writer.
    1. Warhorse's Avatar
      Warhorse -
      This quote..." Remember how Pelini was popping his gums off after the Penn State, bad-replay-angle win?" clearly demonstrates that this "article" is nothing more than agenda-driven tripe.
    1. SoCalRed's Avatar
      SoCalRed -
      I've long ago given up hoping for anything cogent from Mr. Anderson. He has a point of view, and he's not coming off of it. Everything he writes is specifically to enhance that pov.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Geez. Tough critics in these parts. So a guy wants to write about NE football. What's the big deal?
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Yes it has been an advantage for Pelini to follow Callahan. First of all, he inherited better talent than he's been able to assemble on his own. Second, it doesn't matter what he does, he gets a pass because he's not Callahan.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Quote Originally Posted by SoCalRed View Post
      I've long ago given up hoping for anything cogent from Mr. Anderson. He has a point of view, and he's not coming off of it. Everything he writes is specifically to enhance that pov.

      Who's Mr. Anderson?
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