So I have this shirt. It’s from the 2001 National Championship. It’s my lucky shirt. I know we got slaughtered by Miami in that Rose Bowl, but I wasn’t wearing it during that game. This shirt is about finished. It has holes all over it. The collar is close to being separated from the actual body of the shirt. I put this thing on every Saturday though. My wife and mother have tried unsuccessfully to get rid of this thing for years. But I honestly believe someday I will be sitting back in the Rose Bowl wearing this shirt and we will finally make amends for that terrible game more than a decade ago. No matter who Nebraska plays, when I am wearing this shirt I feel like we have a chance. I believe in this shirt.
Nebraska needed something to believe in Saturday night. This team was on the ropes and was one good shot from getting knocked out.
After Minnesota a lot of people were calling for Bo Pelini’s job. People had given up caring who our QB was because no one thought it mattered. The Big Ten Championship seemed unattainable.
One Hail Mary against a Northwestern squad who has a real shot at not becoming bowl eligible doesn’t change all of that.
Pelini still has a long march through November to prove to a lot of people that he is head coaching material six years into the gig. The QB position is definitely nothing to be confident in. All three of the guys who have contributed this year have shown signs of promise and all three have provided some cringe worthy moments.
That game last Saturday may be exactly what this team needed to believe in themselves. In that first quarter Tommy Armstrong looked great. He had me believing he could run that option to a victory against just about everyone.
Then in the second half this defense gave you something to believe in. The blitzes were resulting in sacks. Avery Moss showed people that he and Randy Gregory have that ability to cause havoc in the backfield.
This defense could have not been more of a surprise to the Husker faithful sitting in Memorial Stadium last Saturday, but they had people believing that a comeback was possible.
Then with 2:25 left in the fourth quarter Armstrong throws that interception and it gets returned to the seven yard line.
That’s when people started to lose faith. That was the scariest thing to me is that with all these signs of belief it still wasn’t enough.
Right then, sitting 36 rows up in section 17 right above the south end zone. One thing ran through my head as many people started leaving their seats to head for the exits.
“This may be the last time I put on this stupid old ratty shirt.”
I mean Armstrong showed glimpses of a bright future in the option game. The defense came out and put together its best half of football all season and there I was in my “lucky” shirt and it still didn’t matter.
Well, I stayed to see it out and with every pass Kellogg completed on that final drive you began to see people begin to get frustrated. People didn’t want to buy in again only to get let down. Then there was the fourth and 15 play to Ameer Abdullah and watching him fight for the extra yardage to get the first down people started to believe again.
On that final Hail Mary pass I looked around and people all over were holding on to each other. It reminded me of that scene from the movie Titanic. The ship is going down and everyone runs to the top of the ship grabs on to whatever they can find and just waits to hit that freezing water.
If this were the Titanic, Kellogg and Jordan Westerkamp grabbed a life boat, threw Nebraska in and said “this thing isn’t over yet.”
They gave us a reason to believe for a little longer that anything is possible. When everyone was celebrating after that Hail Mary catch, you looked around and you saw people running, jumping, screaming, hugging and believing.
Last week Kellogg said he was taking the offensive line out for dinner. He really wanted to improve morale and provide a spark for this team.
His spark has caught fire and his Hail Mary pass did something that a 50 point blowout may not have done. It has people believing.
The one thing I know for sure is that tomorrow I will pile into a car with my family and head for Michigan. Saturday I will be sitting there in my old ratty shirt believing we have a chance.
So I wonder, Do you still believe that the Huskers can make the unlikely run to the Big Ten Title?
Also, I am curious if any of you out there are superstitious like me. Do you have a shirt you wear every week or a pre-game ritual? I'd love to hear about it.
Brian Bosiljevac is a freelance writer and Omaha native now living in Kansas City, Mo. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. New to Twitter. Follow him at @brianbosiljevac. Thanks for reading.