October 26, 2010
This was a Moe Iba kind of score, except this was football, not basketball. In the fourth quarter with the Huskers leading 51-34, I wondered if 51 points would be enough to win the game. You got the feeling Nebraska would prevail, but with the Cowboys' potent offensive you didn't get comfortable until time had expired.
After the game ended, the feeling was more one of relief than joy, although this win was the first Husker win over a team ranked 19th or higher since Nebraska beat Oklahoma in 2001. And the 51 points scored by the Huskers against OSU were the most since the '95 Husker National Championship team laid 65 on the 'Pokes.
I'm not surprised by the 51 points, but I admit I was scratching my head trying to figure out how the vaunted Blackshirts gave up the most points since the Sooners scored 62 on the Huskers in 2008.
So, is there cause for panic with this year's defense? Panic, no. Concern, maybe. After surrendering 27 first half points to the 'Pokes, the Blackshirts allowed only 7 points until 1:24 to go in the game. This was a Cowboy offense that had been averaging almost 50 points a game. Holding OSU to almost 9 points under that average is something to cheer.
Is the 'Poke offense that good, or are the Blackshirts that bad? The jury is still out on that one. If the Blackshirts rebound well enough this Saturday when Missouri comes to town, it could make for a very interesting game.
Meanwhile,Taylor Martinez keeps improving. The Cowboy's dared him to beat them with his arm and he did just that. After Martinez's perfect TD pass to Kyler Reed, I called a buddy of mine.
"It may be a bit too premature," I said, " but I think we might be witnessing the making of a Husker quarterback." I know, the kid isn't perfect-far from it. But you have to admire his resolve. Remember, T-Magic is only a redshirt freshman. And yes, the strength of the Cowboy program isn't their defense, but you wonder how good this kid is going to be once he figures everything out.
For an offense that didn't score an offensive touchdown against the Longhorns the week before, scoring 51 points is a very good sign.
HUSKER DAN'S ARMY
Dear Husker Dan:
I am excited to have received the Big Red Care Package. Many thanks!
Col. Mary Link
Dear Col. Link: It's good to hear from you. You and all those who serve with you are the real American heroes. We are very proud of you! (Col. Link is currently deployed in Kuwait.)
Dear Husker Dan:
I got a box today loaded with Husker gear in it!! I want to thank Husker Dan's daughter, Kelly and the Red Zone in Omaha for the gear they supplied us! Here are some pictures we took of the flags that we got. They are for Larry The Cable Guy, The Red Zone and Husker Dan's Army. Thanks and GBR!!
SGT DCG-S Anthony Wojtalewicz
SGT. Wojtalewicz: We're glad you got the Husker Care Package. Thanks for the flags. They are awesome. Good luck, God Bless and GO HUSKERS!!!
NOTE: If you know of any member of the US armed services who is currently deployed in the Middle East, send me the trooper's name, APO address, branch of service, length of deployment, location of deployment and email address, we'll get the trooper enrolled in Husker Dan's Army. With the help of the Red Zone in Omaha, we provide Husker Care Packages overseas to anyone who registers with us. Also, with the help of HuskerVision at UNL, we provide game day DVDs of all Husker football games. Of course this is free of charge to the troopers. We rely on donations to make Husker Dan's Army successful To date, we have helped provide a touch of home to 100s of troopers.
If you'd like to donate to this great cause, send your donations payable to Husker Salute to:
3610 SW Woodvalley Terrace
Topeka, KS 66614
THE GLISSMAN ANGLE
Each week, former Husker quarterback, Garth Glissman (shown with HuskerMax's own David Max) provides his in-depth look at the Huskers' next opponent. Garth is an attorney with Kutak Rock in Omaha and does freelance sports radio commentary on the Huskers Illustrated radio show heard every Saturday morning from 7-9 on station am 590 in Omaha.
THE MISSOURI PREVIEW
Heading into the Missouri week, I cannot remember a more exciting three game stretch in recent memory. It has been one marquee matchup after another. And this week should prove to be the Huskers' toughest challenge to date.
In many ways, Missouri reminds me of Oklahoma State in that, regardless of how good Nebraska's defense is, their offense is impossible to stop entirely. But, unlike Oklahoma State which boasted a dynamic rushing attack with Kendall Hunter, Missouri's offense is more one dimensional, relying primarily on its passing game. Blaine Gabbert has lived up to the task thus far, throwing for over 270 yards per game and 11 TDs versus only 3 INTs.
But Missouri's pass happy attack will make it easier for Pelini to game plan against, not to mention it plays into the strength of Nebraska's defense, that is, the Blackshirts ability to defend against the pass.Speaking of the Blackshirts, one of Coach Pelini's greatest strengths is his ability to make in-game adjustments. As the third-string QB on the 2003 team for which Pelini served as defensive coordinator, I was always amazed at how
teams' only offensive success against Pelini's defense often came early in the game. Pelini's ability to make in-game adjustments is a tribute to his intellectual flexibility, rather than a rigid adherence to stick some preconceived defensive "script."
Pelini's remarkable ability to make adjustments as the game wears on was on
display again last week at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys' offense torched the
Blackshirts in the first half, but Pelini's troops proved much stingier in the second half. So, while Missouri's offense will score some points on Saturday, I expect most of them to come before half-time, and, as the game progresses, look for the Blackshirts to make critical defensive stops.
The biggest difference between Oklahoma State and Missouri is defense. Unlike Oklahoma State, Missouri's defense ranks among the very best in the conference (1st in scoring defense and 2nd in rushing defense). The Tigers' defense (11 INTs, 6 fumbles recovered) also has shown a remarkable ability to create turnovers. This should lead to some momentary frustration for Martinez and the offense.
But Martinez's and the coaches' newfound confidence in the passing game will force Missouri's defense to defend us more honestly, rather than overplaying the run and daring Nebraska to beat them with the pass. Most impressive about Martinez's performance against Oklahoma State was his ability to make big completions on 3rd and long and other obvious passing situations.
Completing a long pass off a play action when the defense is least expecting it is one thing, moving the chains with a big completion on a 3rd and long is exponentially more difficult. If Martinez can continue to throw like he did in Stillwater, Nebraska's offense will be virtually impossible to stop.
We cannot expect every Saturday to be a record setting day for Martinez, and especially not this Saturday against a tough Missouri defense. But T Magic and the Cornhusker offense, once again, will make enough plays to win. The Blackshirts will be solid, though not dominating against Missouri's high powered offense. As usual, Pelini's Blackshirts will adjust as the game progresses and play especially tough down the stretch. And, so long as we have Alex Henery, Nebraska always has an advantage in the kicking game. With much of the college football world's attention focused on Lincoln next Saturday, Nebraska will not disappoint.
Nebraska 31, Missouri 24.