Friday, October 26, 2007

It Just Hurts......

So I was flipping through the newest Sports Illustrated last night, and came across a four-or-five page article on the great season Mizzou is having. Unfortunately, I hadn't read the table of contents and was completely unprepared for it. And you know what I felt? Not anger. Not any of the frustration that has been seemingly omnipresent in this fall of our discontent. No, what I felt was emotional pain, a feeling in my gut akin to the one you get when you break up with a girlfriend. I've been so upset the past couple of weeks, so angry over the train wreck that is Nebraska football, that I hadn't had time to realize just how big of an emotional hit I was taking.

As I sat there and read about Mizzou's dream season, the dream season that was supposed to be ours, I thought back to last week against A&M. As my brother and I sat in our hotel room following the Aggie destruction, I looked over and saw the kid with one of the most depressing, crestfallen looks I have ever seen. He noticed my look, and he explained it like this:

"It just sucks. After my family, this is all I care about. It's the only thing I read about, the only thing I watch. The other 7 months out of the year, I count down to football season. And it just sucks to invest so much of myself into something and have nothing returned."

Perhaps that is what makes sports so special to people, the connection they have to that team and the ability said team has to break it's fans' hearts, much like a girlfriend can. Like my brother and millions of other college football fans, fall Saturdays are the only thing that gets us through our bland workdays, the only thing that we can truly get excited about. What makes it even harder is the lack of any other favorite teams. It's not like I can fall back on a favorite pro team, or a different sport. All there is to us is Husker football, and when they suffer, it proliferates down to the fans, making for one miserable fall.

Unfortunately, my brother and I were too young to fully appreciate the dominance of the Huskers in the 1990's. We even went to the national title game against Florida, saw Tommie's run and everything. But when your 12, you don't realize just how special a magical season like that is. You never imagine that in 10 years your team will be on it's way to a 4-8 season and a new coaching staff. You just root for the team because that's what you've been taught to do since the day you were born. Now, I'm 23. I realize what's going on. And it hurts so bad that I'd give just about anything to be 12 again so I wouldn't comprehend just how bad the state of Nebraska football is.

I'm tired of the losses. I'm tired of the rumors. I'm tired of coaches who don't come out and admit that they don't know what the hell is going on. I'm tired of players looking like they'd rather be doing keg stands than playing. And I'm tired of the pain that results from all of it. But the great thing about sports: there's always next year.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Some various Husker-related thoughts.......

So let's just say my visit to Lincoln didn't go near as well as I had hoped. In my prediction, I said that A&M's bland offense would enable the Huskers to keep it close. As it turns out, that vanilla offense is all you need when your playing against our defense. Considering you've already read all the reports and blogs about the game, you probably know that the Aggies shredded us with the option. I sat in the stands, drunk and exhausted from the 80 degree heat and from getting up at 7:30 to start drinking. The first half was great, we went into the break only down 16-14. But after that it was all downhill. Despite the crowd imploring them to rise the occasion, the defense fell flat, allowing McGee and Lane to run over us like we were a Pop Warner team. The option is both easy and difficult to defend. Easy because if every guy does their job, it's going to be shut down. And therein lies the problem for defenses, because it only takes one guy doing the wrong thing to allow some big plays, which is exactly what happened.

Between the loss, the fact that a great deal of the students were gone for fall break, and the heat, it made for a less-than-stellar trip to Lincoln. Most of it is probably due to how depressing the atmosphere was going into the game. When I bought the tickets for the game, it was supposed to be a battle between two teams competing for the Big 12 title. Instead, it had all the electricity and intensity of a pick-up basketball game between two brothers. Sure, the younger one might keep it interesting a while, but in the back of your mind you know the older one is going to assert his will and pound the kid brother into submission. Which makes it all the more sad when you come to the realization that Nebraska has sunk to little brother status in the Big 12. I'd say really the only teams we are better than in our conference are Iowa State and Baylor. That's it.

Callahan's gone. Barring a minor miracle, we're going to finish 4-8, making it the worst season in my lifetime (one of the benefits of being born in 1983). So who comes in? The rumor mill has been churning out crap at a breakneck pace, with few people knowing what is true and what is pointless chatter on a message board. I'm hoping for Bo Pelini, but others hope for Turner Gill. I'd love to see Gill on the staff in some capacity, but can we please not give him the head job? I know all the AARP Husker fans would love to see him be the HC, but let's slap ourselves out of this nostalgia and be realistic. Pelini is the hottest assistant in the country, his defenses annually rank in the top 10, and he has a respect for the culture that surrounds Nebraska football. I've never been a guy who thinks we HAVE to go to the Husker family tree. Look at how well that worked for John Blake at Oklahoma. I'd hate to go through another failed 3 year experiment when our Bob Stoops might be ready now in the form of Bo.

Regarding the stories about how the players are fed up with the treatment from the fans, I have a few thoughts. First off, to the players: What do you expect? The program and it's fans came into this season with huge expectations, and instead we've witnessed the worst defense in Nebraska history. It's been hard to watch, particularly with the offense going into the tank as well the past couple of weeks. Do we expect you to beat everyone? No, not at all. All we ask is that you look like you give a damn. To the fans: If you are one of the people who we keep hearing about, the ones going behind our bench and deriding our players, get the hell out of the damn stadium. I don't give a shit if they give up 40 points, you don't tell these guys they suck or anything to that effect. Oh, you're disappointed with their performance? I think it's safe to say that they are disgusted enough with the way this season has gone that they don't need a bunch of morons reminding them of just how poorly they are playing. At the game this weekend, I saw the crowd give the D standing ovations when they took the field in the first half, doing all they could to support these kids. I don't know who these people are who are going up to the guys after the game or at the bars and giving them a hard time, but knock it off and leave the kids alone.

Why? Because when these kids look back 10 or 20 years from now, I'd hate to hear them say that they hated their time at Nebraska because their fans couldn't support them when they were losing. I'd hate to see them hold ill will towards the program because of one bad year. These guys are pretty damn close to just mailing it in the rest of the season and binge-drinking their way to Christmas break. And for every unappreciative fan that comes and makes a snide comment, they move one step closer to that happening. I'm not saying you should cheer when they are getting their ass kicked. But you certainly don't have to criticize them directly to their face either. You think you can do better, with your beer gut and 6.3 forty time? Then walk on and let's see you stop any of the guys who have ran all over us this year. Because until you do that, you have no right to be talking shit to these kids. No matter how poorly they play, they are still Huskers. And as such, they deserve our support.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

At least I can drink this time.......

What a week. Rumors, press conferences, firings. The dust has pretty much settled from the Pederson ouster, and despite the rumors, it looks as if Doctor Tom has every intention of letting Callahan and Company finish out the season before any more personnel decisions are made. It's the right decision in my opinion, as kicking people out in the middle of the season is not the right way to do things. Is he gone at the end of the year? I think that's a given. I'm not going to talk about the coaching search or anything else. My main concern is that we at least defend home turf this week better than we did against OSU, and so after all the crap this team had dealt with thus far this week, I think it's time to forget about all that for the weekend and just focus on the game at hand against Texas A&M.

I'm especially excited about this game because for the first time, I will be making the trip to Lincoln with the ability to legally enter bars. My last game? The last game of Callahan's first season, the loss to Colorado that ended our bowl streak. Needless to say, I'm hoping NU does better this time around. The upside is that even if we play horribly, at least this time the pain can be soothed by an unhealthy amount of Bud Light.

I'm not going to predict a score or a Husker win, I've pretty much resigned myself to the Huskers being flat-out horrible the rest of the year. But that's not going to stop me from being the best fan I can be, cheering for our guys and supporting them in this tumultuous time.

I think NU has the ability to move the ball on A&M. The Aggie defense is giving up 24 points and 400 yards a game, 260 of them through the air. It's sad to think that those stats are actually good in comparison to ours. Also, the inability of their offense to throw the ball too effectively will allow us to focus on stopping McGee, Lane, and the running game. The downside of us focusing on stopping those two is that I could see TE Martellus Bennett sneaking behind our linebackers and doing some damage. Do I think Nebraska wins? No. But they don't lose by much.

If your in Lincoln for the game, I suggest you stop by the Huskerboard tailgate party. They have BBQ and a T-shirt for 10 bucks, as well as 3 flatscreen TVs. It's located under the pedestrian bridge near the stadium.

Hope to see some of you in Lincoln. GBR!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Big Red Roundtable, Back to the Future Edition

Well, I once again managed to completely suck at predicting the outcome of Husker games this fall. I predicted NU would beat OSU, but instead they suffered another embarrassing loss that I'd rather not talk about (and one you'd probably prefer not hearing about again). So instead, through a Big Red Roundtable of Husker Bloggers, we're going to look at the tumultuous week thus far in Husker Nation, commenting on everything from Pud's firing to the hiring of T.O. As always, I encourage you to check out the other Husker bloggers' responses.

1. Steve Pederson is out as athletic director. Did you see it coming? Good move or bad move?

While I've never been a Pederson fan, I wasn't one of his biggest detractors either, at least not until very recently. It is amazing just how much the vilification increased once the Huskers started getting embarrassed the past couple of weeks. After the Mizzou game, I had an inkling that Pederson would be gone at the end of the year, but I never saw it coming mid-season like it did. What's more is that the decision was made before the OSU debacle, so obviously Pearlman felt he had no choice. I think the most telling (and damning) revelations about Pederson pertain to his apparently off-putting demeanor that has caused several high-level staffers (like chief fundraiser Paul Meyers) to leave. Pud never had that many fans to begin with after his mishandled firing of Solich and the protracted search for a replacement, and once it became apparent that Callahan would not succeed, it pretty much sealed Pederson's fate. I think this is a good move for NU, and now hopefully we can wash our hands of the mess and move forward.

2. Tom Osborne has returned as Pederson's interim replacement. Good move/bad move? What should T.O.'s priorities be, and what does he need to do?

In my opinion, Osborne isn't only the right hire, he was really the only option. Think about it, what other person could step in with not only the experience to do the job, but the ability to reunite Husker Nation and bring some sense of calm to the histrionics that have surrounded this program the past couple of weeks? I can't remember where I read it, but someone likened Osborne to a grandpa that a family leans on in tough times. And when you think about it, I believe T.O. brings that kind of stability to the Husker family and all of the fans. Combine that with his familiarity with Husker traditions, his experience with college athletics (from both NU and his role with Creighton), and his serving in Congress, you have a candidate that not only assuages a beleaguered and worried fan base, but also is qualified to fill such a position.

His priorities should be first and foremost helping the current coaching staff right the ship. Yes, they are probably on their way out and would probably prefer Osborne just stay out of their way. And that may be the case. But Osborne has to let them know that if they need anything to help RIGHT NOW, to help win games this season, that he's there. His second priority (although in terms of future importance, this should probably be first) is to start searching for a qualified coach that can take control at the end of the season (because we all expect Callahan to be gone at some point). He doesn't have to have head coaching experience in my opinion, as long as he is aware of the traditions and "Husker way" that we hold so dear, and is knowledgeable and a proven X's and O's guy. Oh, and it'd be nice if he could recruit. Anything else?

Another priority is to get all the boosters and administration guys on the same page. The Pederson firing went over well with many, but upset others (like the Cook family, who were big Pedey backers). It is important that we win back some of the people we lost during Pedey's tenure and the mess we have right now. While T.O. doesn't have an easy task ahead of him the next couple of months, he is well aware of what he has taken on and is well-prepared to handle the job.

3. The Huskers have been blown out two straight weeks. What is happening with the football team, and what does the rest of the season look like?

What makes this whole clusterfuck even more maddening is the fact we can't get a straight answer about anything from anyone. All we hear is the same damn coach-speak from Cally, and all we hear from the players is that the coaching schemes are good and that they aren't quitting. Well I don't give a rat's ass what everybody is saying, because what we have seen on the field is a football team devoid of leadership that is giving less effort with each passing week. The players have the look of a refugee fleeing a war-torn country. They stare off into the distance, apparently wanting to be anywhere else than playing football for Nebraska. While I have no doubt that many of the players are aching with every inch of their being to right the ship, I have a sneaking suspicion that more and more of them are seeing the writing on the wall and realizing that they will have new coaches soon, so what's the point? Most of them are probably looking forward to the nightlife on Saturdays instead of the game, if only because they know that the coaching staff is completely inept and on it's way out (I'm mainly talking about the defense).

As a unit, good performances breed pride and aggressiveness, a pack mentality that leads to even better play. However, when a unit completely blows, and blows so badly that they lose their sweet black practice jersey, then it becomes a self-defeating prophecy. None of these guys expect to play well on Saturdays, which is why they go out and play the way they have been. I hurt for these players, especially guys like Bo Ruud. But unfortunately, there is no magic switch that will fix this. These guys are going to have to go out and perform a minor miracle if they are going to turn this season into something even relatively successful.

Looking ahead to the schedule, we have a rough go to finish this season. We are going to lose at Texas and K-State, barring miracles. Our other road game, at Colorado, is going to be a dogfight, one I unfortunately expect us to lose (their defense is damn good) . Which leaves us with Texas A&M. Their vanilla offense and inability to throw the ball gives me hope that we can christen the new Osborne-as-AD era with a win. And while I used to think that home field advantage meant something, OSU showed that Memorial Stadium doesn't really intimidate anyone when you put a crappy product on the field. So let's hope we win the Buyout Bowl this weekend. We do that, and I think we finish with a 5-7 record. Hopefully we at least make things interesting and knock someone out on the road to make it to .500.

4. and are getting lots of traffic. Steve Pederson is already gone. Tom Osborne says nobody will be fired during the season. What happens with this coaching staff?

Callahan and Cosgrove are most definitely gone. I don't see any other way around it. In what was supposed to be a leap year, we have regressed horribly, and it certainly isn't because of a lack of talent. I think that in addition to the top two, there will be several coaches asked to leave (defensive assistants especially). A lot of it will depend on who the players want to be brought back, as well as what the new head coach (whoever he is) wants. He may bring in all his own guys, or he may choose to retain some of the staff for continuity. I'm hoping that Watson is retained to keep the offense going, as well as Dave Kennedy for strength and conditioning (he is one of the nation's best). Like I said, it all depends on what the players tell Osborne and what the new HC decides to do.

Other Roundtable contributors:

Husker Faithful

Corn Nation

Big Red Analysis

Husker Mike

Big Red Network

Midwest Coast Bias

Friday, October 12, 2007

Bring on the Okies.....

Throughout this turbulent Husker football season, there has been one constant that we can all fall back on: me completely sucking at predicting Husker games. Some may say that I don't know near as much about college football as I think I do, but I'm going to fall back on the excuse that it's because of Nebraska's maddeningly inconsistent play so far this season. So I'm not going to get into the position-by-position breakdown others do, because at this point, we are basically crossing our fingers and hoping our defense doesn't suck. Incidentally, this is the same tactic that Cosgrove uses as well.

I think it's going to be tough for us to stop OSU's offense. While it may not be the most powerful on earth, as they proclaimed in the preseason, it's still damn good with competent playmakers at several positions, especially with Adarius Bowman at WR. I think we are in for a looooong day defensively, and unfortunately, that's going to be a recurring theme throughout the season. However, I think that the team, and the fans, recognize this game as the most important game of the year. If we lose this game, it sets us up for a very bad second half, something that Callahan and Pedey can't have if they want to buy some good will for future seasons. This game, along with next week's A&M game (which I'll be in attendance for) will go a long way in determining when and where NU ends up playing their bowl game. Nobody wants to go to the Alamo Bowl again, so it's important we get these two wins heading into a brutal last month.

I'm not going to predict a final score, because I've proven over the course of this season that I thoroughly suck at accurately forecasting the final outcome of games. But the Husker optimist in me sees the defense stepping up this weekend.

Huskers by 7

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Stop with the What-Might-Have-Beens........

I never thought the uttering of a 40-year old man's name would make me depressed, but it does. Whenever someone brings up Bo Pelini, I feel like someone (maybe Kevin Cosgrove?) is punching me in the stomach and kicking me in the nuts simultaneously. All of us as Husker fans have entertained the fantasies of what might have been had Pedey offered Pelini the head coaching job after the '03 season instead of Callahan. Immovable defenses, unstoppable defenders, Big XII titles and BCS bowls are all things that seem possible now that we've witnessed Bo's run at LSU and his one season at Oklahoma after his departure from Lincoln. And as much as I sometimes find myself yearning for that kind of defensive supremacy, I'm realizing a bit more each day that if I hope to keep my insanity for the duration of this season, I have to stop thinking about Bo.

You might be wondering what it is that brought me to write about Pelini. It was this article, which somebody posted on Huskerboard that was the source of my emotional pain today. Quotes like this, from Barrett Rudd, don't help in making me forget about what might have been:

"Guys were ready to run through a wall for him," said Ruud, a junior on that Nebraska team. "He was such a great motivator. He'd print out cards with different quotes and leave them in our locker to fire us up before games, and when it came to X's and O's, he definitely had the 'it' factor.

It'd be one thing if it was the offense, not the defense, that was sucking this season. Maybe then I'd be able to forget about Pelini. But when a unit that was once good enough to have a sweet nickname like the Blackshirts is playing like a bunch of Powder Puff players, it makes it that much harder to forget that the preeminent defensive coordinator in the country once roamed our sidelines and wanted to stay there. The fact that the second-biggest douche in the universe (Pedey, Jimmy Clausen being #1) hired the first big-name guy to come available when his fan base and the players wanted Pelini is perhaps the biggest testament to his stubbornness. And the sad thing is, I saw it coming. When Callahan was fired by the Raiders right after our search started, I told my brother, "Watch, I guarantee you that we hire him, he's the biggest name on the market now." Which, at the time, he was. He had gone to the Super Bowl (and gotten his ass kicked)a couple years earlier, and I figured bringing in Jon Gruden's system to Lincoln was the type of change that Pedey thought necessary.

Let it be clear that I don't think Callahan was necessarily a bad hire. I think he has done a good job turning a program that ran a power-option game into the West Coast machine we currently see playing on Saturdays (although someone should have told him that we still wanted SOME KIND of a running game, not that we wanted to scrap it entirely, which is apparently what he has done). I have my doubts about his ability to interact with players the way college coaches should, but I still think he can turn it around here.

Ugh, but our defense. It has been so painful to watch this year, I find myself slamming beers at an unsafe rate during games just to numb the pain and anguish of having to watch the poorly-coached Husker D half-ass it around the field for the better part of 3 hours. I have to admit, there are times I find my mind wandering.........if we got rid of Pedey and Callahan, what would Bo think.........dammit, I'm doing it again!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Reality sets in.....

We are in for a long one folks. You know, I usually post my post-game review on Mondays. But this weekend's loss was so eye-opening, so revealing and disgust-inspiring that I couldn't bring myself to write about it yesterday. I found myself getting so upset that I thought I wouldn't be able to properly articulate just what I was feeling. I trolled around every Husker site I could find, getting a feel for the pulse of Husker Nation coming off our most embarrassing loss in recent memory. Sure, there have been a lot of low spots in Callahan's tenure here, and in the 2002 season as well. But in terms of pure disappointment, the 41-6 undressing that Mizzou handed us on Saturday night in Columbia was definitely right up there.

We've covered the defense, we've talked about the inability of the running game to develop, and quite frankly, it just depresses me to discuss it further. What was particularly disheartening, and it has been discussed thoroughly by Nebraska fans and media the past couple of weeks, was the seemingly complete absence of any fire or competitive spirit shown by the Huskers.

I can tolerate a loss. Do I like them? No, nobody does. But when we are beaten by a superior team, I can accept it knowing that it just wasn't in the cards. And make no mistake, Missouri IS the better team. They have a better offense (one that has an actual running game), and their defense came to play on a night when a no-show by the Husker offense was the last thing we needed.

One thing I cannot tolerate? The disgusting lack of heart I saw displayed. I don't give a shit if your down by 100 points, you go out and you fight it's tied in the last minute of a title game, and that should never change. What I saw was a disgrace, an insult to every Husker who has passed through Lincoln, and it was hard to take in. You could see it in the faces of the Nebraska defenders, the sad, pathetic look of a unit that would rather have been anywhere else than on that field representing their state and their school. Have some damn pride! You play for Nebraska for Christ's sake, I'd give my left nut to be in your position, and they played with the intensity of a JV high school team on a Tuesday afternoon.

And as far as Callahan goes, I'm a little sick of his "our goals are still intact, we're still in this hunt" talk. Have you been watching the same team we have Bill? Have you seen them getting out-performed in nearly every category? Have you seen them giving up in the third quarter? Oh, you haven't? My question is, how far up your ass does your head have to be to block out just how horrible your team is playing? For those of you who don't know, Callahan gets paid over 4,000 dollars a day to coach Nebraska. When I read that in the OWH, I was taken aback. Surely someone who gets paid that much would realize just how poorly his team is executing. Or maybe someone being paid that much could create some semblance of a running game.

I don't know, maybe all of that is too much to ask of Callahan. But I know one thing that isn't. When your team steps on the field, they should at least play with the intensity and heart that is expected of a Big Red football player. They should have some pride pulling that jersey over their pads, having the "N" on the side of the helmet. Because nothing I saw on Saturday made it seem that way. And all the other shit aside, THAT is what Callahan should be most concerned about. Because while Husker fans may be known for their impatience for losses, they have even less for people who don't leave everything on the field. That may or may not be Callahan's doing. But it is his job to fix it. Now.


Friday, October 5, 2007

Here we go..........

I can sense the apprehension of Husker Nation this week as we head to Columbia to defend our Big XII North title, and my question is, why? Yea, our defense has sucked. Bad. But I don't know if everyone has forgot, but so does Mizzou's. I mean, statistically, they are even worse. And while the yardage total against Iowa State wasn't good last week, at least the D made big plays when we needed them the most, which is going to be needed again Saturday night if the Huskers are to come out of Farout field with a win. I'm still confident this Nebraska team can out-gun Chase Daniel and company, but it's going to need a few turnovers from the unit formerly known as the Blackshirts if they are going to win this game.

I'm looking for the following things to happen tomorrow night:

1) NU establishes the running game early in an attempt to keep Mizzou's offense off the field. I think Marlon Lucky will have a big day, seriously.

2) Mo Purify turns in a big performance (think 6 catches, 75 yards, 2 TDs) after a tough week off the field.

3)Nebraska forces 3 turnovers that lead to at least 2 NU scores. Despite this, the Huskers will still manage to give up 450 yards of offense. That said, Keller and Co. will get just as many.

NU 42, Mizzou 39

Here's last year's Mizzou game Tunnel Walk. Goooooo Biiiiiiigggg Reeeeddddddd!

Monday, October 1, 2007

A Big Weekend for the North

Wow. What in incredible weekend in the world of college football. 7 of the top 13 and 5 of the top 10 teams lost, giving any top 25 voter a headache trying to make sense of the chaos. While the NFL's big news was Brett Favre's passing of Dan Marino's career touchdowns record, the college kids showed definitively why the most compelling football is played on Saturdays. When NFL teams lose a game, it's met by general malaise and the comfort of knowing that you can lose five more and still make the playoffs. Hell, some NFL teams can lose 7 or 8 games and still make it into the second slate. But on college campuses around the country, every weekend is a seemingly life-and-death affair where a mixture of booze, babes, and beer pong combine to turn every game into the chance for something special to take place.

Look no further than what occurred in Boulder on Saturday afternoon. Previously indestructible Oklahoma, led by the highest scoring offense in the country, was defeated on a field goal as time expired by a Buffalo squad that went just 2-10 a year ago. What makes the victory all the more impressive was the fact that the Sooners jumped out to a 24-7 lead, only to watch the resilient CU team fight back to score 20 unanswered points for Dan Hawkins' first big win of his tenure. Sure, had Reggie Smith not muffed a Colorado punt with less than 5 minutes to play, Oklahoma may have survived the upset attempt. But give credit where credit is due, a lot of teams would have rolled over when down to Oklahoma by that much, but CU didn't. While it remains to be seen how Colorado plays the rest of the season, this was obviously a huge step in the continuing reconstruction of the Colorado program.

Meanwhile, down in Austin, Kansas State made an emphatic statement by handing the Longhorns their worst home loss of the Mack Brown era, defeating UT by 20 points on the strength of 3 special teams touchdowns. Texas has not been as dominant as they were last year, especially on offense, where "gunslinger" Colt McCoy has struggled behind a rebuilt offensive line. That's not saying that K-State didn't deserve the win, they played well and for the second year in a row put UT's national title hopes in jeopardy. The North's defeat of the two premier Big XII south teams makes next week's Red River shootout essentially an elimination game, as the loser will stand no chance of winning a national title this year. While I'm hesitant to proclaim that the North is "back", this weekend made the rest of the country at least take notice that the division doesn't blow donkey balls, which is what most people have thought for the past couple of years. Between K-State, Colorado, Kansas, and the defensively suspect Mizzou/Husker squads, the North is going to continue to make some statements this year, and it's going to make for a hectic but fun year in the Big XII.

As for the Husker's win over Iowa State:

How often does the team who gained more yards and held the ball for 40 minutes lose? Only once in my life can I remember a team having a more significant edge in time of possession, and the team that did didn't lose like Iowa State did. When I saw that the Cyclones had jumped to an early 10-0 lead, I had my concerns. If we lost to ISU at home, surely the fallout would be unavoidable. Thankfully, the offense continued to show why it's one of the conference's best, and the defense, although struggling to get off the field, made plays when they needed them most to turn the tide and secure the win.

Ideally, a defense liked to hold the opposition to under 300 total yards of offense (less than 200 passing, less than 100 rushing). Then again, ideally you don't give up 1000 yards plus of offense in two weeks either, but that's been beaten to death. At this point, improvement is all that was asked of a oft-maligned Husker defense, and this weekend definitely qualified as progress. While Bret Meyer did manage to lead the Cyclones to 415 yards of offense, Nebraska responded by forcing four turnovers, and even threw 3 sacks in to boot, an area that desperately needs to improve if the Huskers are going to continue to be successful on defense. Special teams continues to show that it has made a near-180 since last year, as little man Courtney Grixby made a 51-yard kickoff return to spark the Huskers when they were down 10-0 in the second quarter.

Bo Ruud continues to do his best to shut up his critics, making the big play of the day for the second week in a row with a pick-6. While I couldn't watch it due to the TV blackout, I was shocked to hear that he could run that far and not get caught from behind. Either way, I'll take it, because we are going to continue to need plays like that if we are to make it to San Antonio this year. Thankfully, the defense has a reason for somewhat renewed optimism going into what is sure to be a shootout in Columbia next weekend. While many thought it would be a two-team race for the Big XII North, this weekend served notice that there is more than just the Huskers and Tigers to look out for. Still, the implications for Saturday's prime-time showdown are huge, and if nothing else, it should be yet another thriller for the cardiac Cornhuskers.

Here's a little Blackshirt Flashback, which I found over on BRN. Enjoy.