Time is running out and Nebraska trails 28-21. The opposing fans are ready to charge the field. The quarterback takes the snap out of the shotgun finds a receiver on the goal line. He releases and the receiver can’t bring it in. As the ball drops to the ground everyone’s hopes fall with it. Right when you think it’s over a flailing foot kicks the ball backwards and a diving Husker swoops in to catch the ball. The rest is history.
How could any of us forget that season saving catch Matt Davison made off of the foot of Shevon Wiggins’ magical foot? When Scott Frost launched that ball from the Missouri 12-yard line two things could have happened. It could have fallen incomplete and Nebraska’s National Championship dreams would have been over or he completes it and the Huskers live to fight another day. Thankfully Frost found a miracle in Missouri that November night and that catch led to Nebraska’s fifth National Championship.
Fast forward to a late October game in 2001 No. 1 vs. No. 2 in Lincoln, Neb. The winner of this game between Oklahoma and Nebraska puts themselves in great position to play for a National Championship. It was late in the fourth quarter and the Huskers were hanging to a 13-10 lead. Eric Crouch hands off to Thunder Collins and he pitches the ball to Mike Stuntz on the reverse, Stuntz drops back to pass and hits Crouch for a 62-yard touchdown reception. That catch sealed the game. That catch was one of the most memorable plays of Crouch’s Heisman campaign. And that catch helped Nebraska get into the 2001 National Championship. The last BCS game the Huskers have been a part of.
Those two plays have been viewed as two of the best receptions in Husker history. Two weeks ago Nebraska looked all but lost. Then there was the Hail Mary. Still after the first last second touchdown win in program history people weren’t ready to buy in.
This team certainly isn’t on its way to a National Championship, but could greatness be in store for this team after the most recent version of a miracle catch?
This team succeeded where the 19 teams before them failed. Winning in the Big House is no joke. I know people are down playing it right now, saying that Michigan is terrible. I’m not trying to say Michigan is great, but you don’t win 19 straight by accident. Nebraska walked into Ann Arbor with a backup, freshman quarterback, a beat up offensive line, and a young, but re-energized defense. It would be very easy to let the situation get too big for a team in those conditions. They didn’t let that happen they never gave the Michigan fans a chance to get into that game. It wasn’t pretty, but they didn’t let themselves become the 20th team to slip up in the Big House.
Next up is Michigan State. By many accounts this is the best defense in the country. Nebraska’s offensive line is even more beat up than it was last week. They are starting to need backups for their backups. If Nebraska’s defense can take another step forward this week, against a dismal Michigan State offense, this game will get very interesting.
I know the Big Ten is down this year, but if this team can make it to the Big Ten Championship this will be one of the better coaching jobs not only during Bo Pelini’s tenure, but in recent memory. I have been just as hard on this staff as the next guy, but if he can rebound this season after the Minnesota loss I will have to give him credit. This wouldn’t be like the late season runs he had in the past. This would be a lot tougher with all the injuries this team has seen. Whether you are a Bo-liever or a Bo-hater you would have to admire the job he has done with a pretty beat-up squad. Northwestern had a few key injuries this season and their season is all but over. Nebraska has lost two of their four captains, a few linemen, and have had hampered receivers and tight ends all year and they are one game away from being in the driver’s seat to a second consecutive Legends championship and another trip to Indy.
Right now it’s one game at a time. But if Pelini can pull another rabbit out of his hat this story will start with the third string walk-on quarterback from Omaha and a redshirt freshman receiver and no time left on the clock. Makes for a pretty good story if you ask me.
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.