Saturday, September 22, 2007

NU Re-View:USC 49, Nebraska 31

THE GOOD ...
- CALLAHAN'S PLAY CALLING: It became quickly apparent last Saturday that Nebrsaka was not going to run the ball between the tackles against the Trojans. So, Bill Callahan pulled out a pass-heavy offense that looked more like what people expect from the West Coast offense than ever before. Nebraska moved the ball against a much superior USC team.
- THE RED SEA: 'Husker fans broke their own record with attendance at ESPN's College Gameday in the morning, and created the atmosphere that the #1 team in the country deserved. The game did not go well for Nebraska, but the fans definitely brought their A game to the party.
- FIGHT ON: I know, I know, I got sick of hearing it too. But Nebraska never quit in this game, even when the points got piled on and the game got out of hand in the second half. That's the kind of thing that helps make sure a one-game blowout doesn't start a season-long slide.

THE BAD ...
- WELL, DUH: Nebraska was dominated on both sides of the line. One one run, USC's offensive line was so dominant that there were no Nebraska players visible on the HuskerVision screen. I know there were 11 guys in red shirts there at one point ...
- FUNDAMENTAL DEFENSE: Nebraska did itself no favors by being out of position and missing tackles when they were in position. Some of it had to do with strong USC players making them miss. But not all of it. If you are going to kill a giant, you can't make mistakes like that.
- THAT'S WHY THE BALL AIN'T ROUND: Not sure how much of a difference it would make, but every possible break went USC's way. The seminal moment was, after NU went up 10-7, the Trojans fumble the ensuing kickoff. NU recovers that, scores, goes up 17-7, and who knows how the game changes? But, instead, USC picks it up and goes another 31 yards. I don't think it was the difference, but Lady Luck was a Trojan that night.

... AND THE GET-WELL.
While under-appreciated Ball State might be a trap game for Nebraska coming off a post-beatdown hangover, I don't think ultimately it's a dangerous game. Particularly on defense, the Blackshirts know they did not execute well, and should be sharply focused on a top-notch performance this week. That's bad news for the Cardinals.

THE BIG PICTURE
For the last week, the sky has been falling in Big Red Country, and many, many silly people are questioning whether Nebraska has advanced at all in the Callahan era. Much like last year, Nebraska is right where we expected them to be at this point in the season, yet there are folks who are in distress. Look, I don't like a beatdown any more than the next guy, but the result of this game should not have been a surprise. All we found out in this game is what we knew coming in ... that Nebraska is not USC. Guess who else isn't USC? Every other team on Nebraska's schedule. There is no reason to think Nebraska cannot win every game they have left on the schedule. Will they? That's to be determined, there are certainly difficult tests and potential losses on the schedule as well. But to even think about giving up on what's being built in Lincoln because an elite team came to Lincoln and outclassed Nebraska is the ultimate in foolishness. Calm down, 'Husker Fan, the season is not over and Memorial Stadium has not been swallowed up into the earth. The 'Huskers still have the opportunity to do great things this season.

THE NEXT GAME
Ball State @ Nebraska (-21 1/2). This game will either be a trap game or a get-well game for Nebraska. From what I heard from the players coming out of practice, and from what I saw at the end of the USC game, I think it's more likely Nebraska comes out today focused, sharp, and with something to prove. That's not a good sign for David Letterman's alma mater. Take the 'Huskers, give the points.

GBR, baby.

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