Welcome to the roller coaster that is 2012 Nebraska Football. Yes, we are already 7 games into the season, but division play has only just begun. If Saturday’s game against Northwestern was any indication of what to expect for the remainder of the year, well, the ride will only get crazier.
The Huskers are 1-0 in the Legends Division and one game closer to that trip to Indy. While it seems Nebraska prefers to take the roughest and ugliest path to get there, the path is still there for now.
Outside of an 80-yard touchdown run breakdown, the Blackshirts kept the ‘Cats in check. It’s still pretty evident that Pelini and Papuchis are still trying to find their comfort zone with the chess pieces they have to work with this year. The defense isn’t a pretty picture just yet, but the seniors are setting a good leadership example, and Santos and Seisay are beginning to display promising futures. Kain Colter is no Braxton Miller or Denard Robinson, but the guy did chew up a better Blackshirts squad last year. Some say Northwestern’s play calling is to blame, but give the defense credit. It was a strong, physical performance. One performance that they will desperately need to improve upon for Michigan.
This Saturday’s game against the Wolverines is destined to be another matchup of “Best Quarterback Wins All.” Husker fans might as well get comfortable with the fact that Taylor Martinez is never going to be a quarterback with a lot of flair. Despite that fact, it’s still astonishing the lack of faith Husker Nation puts behind him. Every starting quarterback at Nebraska is under a microscope, but Taylor manages the offense incredibly well, and he brings the fight to every game. Nobody wants to see a repeat of Ohio State less than he does. Husker fans can hope for another T-Magic performance this weekend.
It’s only fitting that the dual threat monster that haunts Husker fans’ dreams is coming to Lincoln the weekend before Halloween. Between Robinson and Toussaint, Michigan may not even feel the need to pass the football on Saturday (and probably much to the relief of Wolverine fans). This Saturday’s matchup is without a doubt the season defining game for at least certainly the Blackshirts. Losing to Michigan most likely leads to Nebraska waiting another year for a possible conference title. While curses are a popular topic in Halloween lore, dual threat quarterbacks are not a curse confined to this time of year for Nebraska.
The frustrating thing for all Big Red fans and players alike is that we all know they can be beaten. The same weekend of the Northwestern game, football fans witnessed Braxton Miller’s complete ineffectiveness against Purdue. Denard Robinson barely makes a dent in Michigan State’s defenses. Granted, each team has different players, coaches, and schemes, but why can’t Nebraska duplicate? Pelini and Papuchis will have to brew up quite a scheme of their own to survive the night. Forget ghouls and goblins, nothing will be scarier for Nebraska fans than watching Robinson chew up chunks of yardage play after play.
From amongst the chatter after the Northwestern game, there seems to be a growing fear or impression amongst fans that Bo Pelini is “losing control of the team” or “already has lost control of the team”. It seems a lot of this has stemmed from the confrontation between Bo and Antonio Bell on the sidelines. Not to say that there’s an excuse for that, but if a fan thinks it’s emotional watching the game in the bleachers, think of how emotional it is on the sidelines. The fact is that it can’t really compare at all. Yes, tempers were momentarily shaken, but “lost control of the team?” Really, Husker Nation? How much disciplinary issues have there been under Bo Pelini? How many suspensions? Would these comebacks be possible with a team that’s “lost control?” Think 2004-2007. We’ve seen lost control. Again, there’s really no comparison.
One final fear that is becoming painfully obvious (extra emphasis on the “painfully”) is Rex’s time as a Husker running out while he sits on the sideline. One can’t help but feel bad for him. The frustration on his face said it all. We’ve all long ago since embraced his competitive spirit, but getting through the first quarter is becoming a taunting task with that left knee. As much as we hate it, sitting this one out may definitely be to his advantage for the long run. We can’t be completely selfish as fans as he still has a long career ahead of him.
…or lack thereof. Husker Nation has been needing to check its collective pulse rate the past few games. While relentlessly fun and entertaining as they are, Nebraska’s habit of “largest, 2nd largest, 4th, 5th…largest, etc”, comebacks can really shake a person’s vitals. In a way, it really puts a literal perspective on “Born a Husker fan. Die a Husker fan”.
That’s the great thing about this state and team. No matter what the outcome, we always come back for more.
By Tyler Wanek
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