Friday's win at Iowa was the stuff old Hollywood movies used to be made of. Here's the scene:
It's just before the start of the second half of the Plainsmen's last regular season football game. The problem is, the team is trailing on the road in a hostile environment and has yet to score TD. And to make matters worse, there are bone-chilling winds out of the north and sub-freezing temps to boot.
This is a must win for the visitors. Win, and they play for the conference championship the following week. Lose, and well, let's not go there.
The team's hard nosed, crude-talking, tobacco-spitting coach, Sparky, knows he must somehow find a way to win. What player can he call upon to save the day?
And the actor who plays Rex is straight out of Central Casting. He's the All American kid. His character sports a crew cut, doesn't swear, smoke, chew or drink. He says "yes sir" and "no ma'am." Kids, women, dogs, players, parents, coaches love him and he can even recite Scriptures.
Does the kid have one more game left in him? Can his aching knee hold up to the pounding he's going to take? The coach summons Rex.
"Kid, do you think you go in and get us a win?" Sparky asks as he spits another wad of tobacco on the turf.
"Golly, that would be swell, coach," Rex says. He throws on his helmet and tightens his chin strap and gets his team its only touchdown and only lead of the game. The kid catches passes, runs, blocks, cuts and does everything he can to win the game. He even carries 11 defenders on his back to pick up critical first downs late the game. And by golly, the Plainsmen win the game 13-7 and play in the championship game. Just swell. The end.
They just don't make movies like that anymore. Well, maybe this year. In Iowa City. Thanks, kid. You were swell.
Why the "Hickoff Classic" instead of the Heroes Game? Look, most of you know how I feel about fake rivalries and the lame divisional names commish Jim Delany concocted for the B1G Conference two years ago. (Legends and Leaders? Augggggggggggggggh!)
A BUNCH OF HICKS?
But why Hickoff? First of all, there used to be a preseason bowl that the Huskers played in several times called the "Kickoff Classic." The main reason for the name is that both Iowa and Nebraska fans suffer from the same identity crises. You know what I mean. We're just Flyover Country. And to most outsiders, we're all, well, just a bunch of hicks.
Fans in both states say "fer sure" and "crick" for creek; both grow butt loads of corn. They drive tractors, pickups and combines. They wear Carharts, seed caps and work boots. They love songs about dogs, trains, whiskey, beer and unfaithful women. They salute the flag, respect their elders and go to church on Sundays.
They'd rather have an ATV than an ATM. They buy pesticides and fertilizer by the truck load. Both carry gun racks, rely on rain gauges, go to sale barns and own silos. They do quilting, scrapbooking, sing in the choir and show livestock at county and state fairs. And the closest both states have to skyscrapers are in Des Moines and Omaha.
I rest my case.
50 YEARS AND COUNTING
Before getting into this week's Husker highlight of the past, here's an email from another Husker fan who has his own take on the Worst Husker Loss.
COUNTY AND WESTERN SONG?
Dear Husker Dan,
I always read your articles and enjoy them, never commented until now, but wanted to share. My worst loss vote goes to the '78 Missouri game. It was personal. In the week prior I flunked two tests, ran out of money for the semester and my girlfriend dumped me for another guy. All I had left was the rosy glow of the Oklahoma win and my Missouri ticket in hand. Since my girlfriend wasn’t there I sat in the stadium “alone”, broke, and watched the only thing I had left to keep me sane unravel to the tune of Wilder’s runs and Winslow’s catches. I have never been lower in my life until years later when my dad died. Fortunately, shortly after that game I got a job, hit the books harder and eventually married a wonderful girl. What we fans love about NU football is something few other fanbases have, or could ever understand. Our team is part of the fabric of our lives and causes highs to be higher and lows to be lower.
I am a HuskerMax member (CraftyHusker) but never post, just lurk. Thanks for rekindling a memory (albeit not so sweet at the time),
TOW BIG RED
NOVEMBER 26, 2010 (HUSKERS 45-COLORADO 17 @ Memorial Stadium)
I'm embarrassed to admit this. It happened two years ago in Lincoln on a very windy day in late November. This game was going to be the first Husker football game for my then 4-year-old grandson, Will (who is a HUGE Husker fan) and his father, Mark (not so much). We knew it was unlikely that Will would last the entire game, but Grandpa wanted to take him anyway. This was going to be a very special day. Little did I know just how "special" it was going to be.
We left Omaha early enough so that we would have time attend the HuskerMax tailgate party before the game. The only problem was that we got to Lincoln too early. I found a parking lot across the street from the tailgate area, but the attendant wasn't there yet. But, no problem. The tailgate party was just a block away and I would just come back later and pay the attendant. We were all having a great time at the tailgate. Will even got to have his picture taken with some former Husker players. Oh yes, the parking lot.
And as I walked over to the lot to pay the attendant, I noticed that my car wasn't where I'd left it. I hadn't left the keys in the car, so where could it be? Did somebody steal it?
When I found the attendant he assured me in no uncertain terms that my car had been towed and I would have to retrieve it at the impound lot, which was several miles away. What I said after that is not suitable for family reading. (And of course I didn't think at the time of leaving a note on my windshield.)
I had to figure out a way I could get my car and still go to the football game. No one at the tailgate seemed to have any solutions. What was I going to do? I didn't want to spoil Will's first Husker experience. With no solution in hand, the three of us walked to Memorial Stadium.
Midway through the first half, I was able to reach a close friend of mine who lived in Lincoln, and he saved the day. He picked me up at halftime, took me to the impound lot, and after paying about $100 in fines, I was on my way.
At the half, I picked up Will and Mark outside the stadium and we headed back home. BTW. Will didn't make it to Waverly before he fell fast asleep.
You may contact the writer at HuskerDan@cox.net.