Saturday, October 27, 2007

Eating my words -- sort of; the Husker edition

After Nebraska football's win over Iowa State a few weeks ago, it was entirely possible that the team would not win another game all season. Things were looking pretty grim at Memorial Stadium and around Husker Nation. The team hit the road after that ISU game, and fell pathetically to Missouri. They pulled out an ugly home loss to Oklahoma State, which led up to the dramatic firing of NU Athletic Director Steve Pederson. Many fans hoped that the naming of Tom Osborne as interim AD would help the Huskers manage a home win against Texas A&M last Saturday, but it didn't work that way.

The offense has incurred a lot of stupid penalties, like QB Sam Keller's tendency to earn delays of game. The offense has turned the ball over a depressing number of times, and the weary defense never earned any takeaways of their own.

It has been sad.

This weekend, the Huskers hit the road to take on the #19 Texas Longhorns. I'm not going to lie, I was not very optimistic about the Huskers' chances against their Big XII rivals; Texas was favored to win by 21 points. I wasn't sure how this game would turn out. I saw several possibilities -- I figured today's game could be a massacre, a blowout, an embarrassment...I saw a number of potential outcomes for Nebraska, but I was not hopeful that "win" was one of them. I told some of my friends this, but I added that I would be thrilled if I had to eat my words today.

This is me eating some of my words, but not all of them. Texas ended up winning today, but Nebraska was a team of which I was proud today.

Today's Huskers looked like they actually belonged on the same field as their ranked opponents. Though they really never started any drives with good field position, they marched; they made big numerous big plays for the first time all season. The defense showed they could do something besides leave giant gaps for the opponent to exploit, and finally used an aggressive blitz approach which has been missing all season.

Nebraska's drive at the end of the 1st half had me jumping up and down for joy. Despite inexplicably burning all of their timeouts early in the half, the Huskers forged their way down field to take a 10-7 lead with under a minute left in the half. For the first time since the season opener against Nevada, I was watching my team play like winners. They lost none of that momentum coming out of halftime, and pounded Texas with another touchdown to start the third quarter.

I think the Huskers got a little tired around the end of the 3rd, and when Texas scored their first touchdown -- their previous 3 scores had been field goals -- the Blackshirts just ran out of steam. That blitz which had worked so spectacularly in the first half started to turn on Nebraska, but such is the nature of a blitz.

I'm not pissed off about this loss like I have been the last three games. In the Mizzou, OSU, and A&M games, there were guys on the field in Nebraska uniforms, but I was sure it was not an actual football team. Today, the Huskers showed up, and played a tough game. I would call it a battle. Not a blowout, not an embarrassment, not a massacre. Good game, guys.

Final score:
Texas - 28
Nebraska - 25

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