Friday, October 27, 2006

NU Re-View: Texas 22, Nebraska 20

THE GOOD …

- RETURN OF THE HEAVYWEIGHTS: It’s been a while. Not since Nebraska-Oklahoma in 2001 (and maybe not even that game) has a ‘Husker game in Memorial Stadium felt like two heavyweights trading punches. The grey sky, the snow, the muffled thumping of mittens clapping, all felt like the great ‘Husker game of yore. I’m not entirely sure that’s a measure of progress, but it sure felt good.

- JUST WIN, BABY: Judas Priest, no one can accuse Bill Callahan of having a conservative game plan this time. For the most part, Callahan out-coached the Longhorn’s Mack Brown (admittedly, not the greatest of feats) and put an under-talented Nebraska team in a position to beat Texas.

- BRANDON JACKSON: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a starter. B-Jax doesn’t do one thing great, but he does everything well. He brings toughness, speed, elusiveness, power, and decent pass protection. His run off the shovel pass (maybe a defense against the shovel pass was a good idea) was simply amazing.

THE BAD …

- ICING THE SHOOTER: Look, coach, I know you called a time out last year and after that the K-State kicker missed his field goal. That was a big one. But it was also 51 yards, on the road. Please, please, please stop with the time outs to ice the other team’s kicker. Texas had a glorified extra point to make to take the lead. Even losing the 40 seconds you lost to “ice the shooter,” Zac Taylor got Nebraska to the Texas 40. Think with those extra 40 seconds he could have gotten NU into Jordon Congdon’s admittedly-small range?

- NEBRASKA PLACEKICKERS: Great teams aren’t necessarily measured by the marquee things. Great teams are made by doing the little things great. Texas has kickers that can regularly put the ball through the end zone on kickoffs. Nebraska’s kickers can’t get the ball past the 10 yard line. As much as anything else, those difference show the gap in talent between teams like Texas and teams like Nebraska.

- DADGUMIT: Given the way this game felt like an old Nebraska-Oklahoma game, it seemed appropriate to bring up a little Barry Switzer-ism to describe Nebraska’s luck in this game. Texas had five fumbles, and got them all back, including one on the drive late in the fourth quarter to take the lead. Nebraska lost the critical fumble late in the game, and then had a hail-mary pass to win with time expiring bounce off Terrence Nunn’s shoulder pads. It’s a funny shaped ball, and sometimes it doesn’t bounce your way. Dadgumit.

… AND THE OVERLOOKED

Don’t look now, but this Saturday Nebraska has to play Oklahoma State in Stillwater. The Cowboys are in the second year of a conversion to a spread-style offense, which will put more pressure on Nebraska’s suspect secondary. This has trap game written all over it, and Nebraska has to be very careful to come out focused on the road and take care of business to keep a trip to Kansas City in December in play.

THE BIG PICTURE

Don’t buy that whole “there’s no moral victories” thing. Nebraska’s wide-left loss to seventeen-point-favorite Florida State in the 1994 Orange Bowl catapulted the program to three national championships in four years. Given the status of the Nebraska program over the last few years, many were questioning if NU would ever be able to play toe-to-toe with a powerhouse again. Nebraska did just that last Saturday. The question is one of analogies. Is this like the ’94 Orange Bowl? Or is this like the ’02 heartbreaking loss to Texas in Lincoln that was the high-water mark of the Solich era? Given Nebraska’s success on the road earlier this season, the signs point more to the former than the latter. But a loss in Stillwater on Saturday could turn momentum the other direction.

THE NEXT GAME

Nebraska (-5 ½) @ Oklahoma State. I’ve said it before, and it’s still true. Nebraska is still perfect against the number this year. I went against that last week, and led you astray. Not this week. Okie State gave up 24 points to a pretty wretched Kansas State offense, so it appears Nebraska should be able to pound the rock effectively. Look for the same blueprint the ‘Huskers used in Ames and Manhattan, to start quick, get a lead, and grind the game away. Take NU, give the points.

GBR, baby.

1 comment:

Brian said...

Now that's the style of football I like to see! Big Red came to play, played their game, and but for a few (unlucky) bounces of the ball, could have came out on the winning side.
But win or lose, they brought what they had and left it on the field. That's a team I can rally around!
I hope we meet up with Texas again in the Big XII Championship game. They've got some pretty incredible players, but let's see how they fare on a cold November day in Arrowhead! GBR!