R E D C L A D L O O N
LOON DROPPINGS, Vol. 5
Nebraska 36, Missouri 3
College football has always had this thing for the color gold. For proof,
look to the fact that about half of Division 1 schools list it as one of
their hues. There's the Golden Hurricane, the Golden Gophers, the Golden
Bears ... and, of course, the Old Gold of the Misery Tigers. Before
Saturday's contest against the Cornhuskers, MU implored its oh-so-clever fans
to don that color to counter all the red that dotted Faurot Field's stands.
It almost worked -- in the first half, Nebraska blew some golden
opportunities -- but in the end they showed that all that glitters is not
gold. In fact, after Eric Crouch's quicksilver sprint into history, what
might be glittering most is a trophy made of bronze.
A few takes:
THE LINCOLN NAVIGATOR: Over the years, many wacky events have unfolded on the
dreaded, knee-high Columbia turf. All of which, basically, have solidified
the Tigers as destiny's punching bag. Misery has already seen a fifth-down
touchdown and Matt Davison's immaculate reception, both of which helped the
Tigers snatch defeat out of the clutches of victory. Now add Eric's end
zone-to-end zone dash to that (in)famous list. In the course of 18 amazing
seconds, No. 7 showed strength, busting free from Tiger D-lineman Nick
Tarpoff. Then he showed moves, by putting a couple of sweet swaba-swabas on a
pair of defensive backs (they reported seeing a blur). And, of course, Eric
The Red showed his trademark finishing kick -- when Crouch got into the open
field, he was gone faster than a box of Franzia white zinfandel at a baby
shower. The winding, dekeing, jetting, record-setting run definitely provided
fodder for the folks at FOX, who have already replayed it more times that
"Married With Children." But good luck getting it shown more than once
following all the Zak Kustok clips on ABC and ESPN. Still, somewhere, Lyell
Bremser had to be letting out a heavenly "Man, Woman and Child." A no-brainer
game ball goes to No. 7, if he would ever slow down enough for us to hand it
RUNNING LATE: There were actually 10 other players on offense for Nebraska on
Saturday, believe it or not. After a sluggish, sloppy start, NU fired on all
pistons in the second half -- particularly after The Run. It's said that in
times of great trial, a team's true colors show. And in Missouri's case, it
was a yellow streak a mile wide. "Mile Wide" also could describe the holes
that Nebraska was blowing into the Tiger defense in the fourth quarter. This
allowed DeAnte Grixby and Josh Davis to look like Keith Jones and Tony Davis
... or maybe it was the other way around. At any rate, it was heartening to
see NU wear MU's seventh-ranked defense down to a nub by the time the clock
DOWN ON THE FARM: It's probably an understatement to mention that last year,
Kirk Farmer had a decent game against the Blackshirts. Even Gary
"Schembechler" Pinkel could see through his nifty prescription sunglasses
that Farmer tends to get hot vs. NU. Farmer, whose appearance is best
described as Richie Cunningham with a surfboard, made a surprise start and
was looking to rock the Huskers once again. Nay, nay. This is not last year's
Blackshirts. In fact, the current group is shaping up to be sharper than
Maria Shriver's face. Embodiment of the defensive improvement is Scott
Shanle, who last year often needed the aid of a firearm to cover receivers.
But on Saturday he was looking like Ralph Brown. The Tigers wanted to hit
their tight ends while NU was double-covering the speedy No. 12, Justin Gage
(heh, heh ... 12-Gage ... get it?), but thanks to some stellar linebacking,
that idea worked out about as well as David Caruso's film career. Another
great turn by the Blackshirts.
FINISHING KICK: Many across the Husker Nation were howling after Sandro
DeAngelis' first-quarter field goal got stuffed back in his face. But in The
Pond, it was cause for relief. That meant it was a typical Husker contest,
and they could go on and take care of business now. Still, so far this year
the NU kicking game has been sadder than watching Florida State run the
football. Consider: A botched extra point vs. TCU. A blocked field goal vs.
Troy State. A blocked punt vs. the Domers. And, in the last two games, a
blocked field goal and two more extra-point screw-ups. Don't think it's a big
deal? Ask Michigan State, who outplayed Northwestern on Saturday but lost by
one after missing three field goals and a PAT, if it's a big deal. This must
be fixed by the time the Sooner Schooner rolls into town.
KELLEN ME SOFTLY: Saturday was a record-breaking day, all righty. Sure, sure,
Eric Crouch's 95-yard touchdown run was nice. But the most notable record of
the day was set with 24 seconds left in the third quarter. That's right --
FOX waited nearly three whole quarters to talk about Kellen Winslow. Ladies
and gentlemen, a NEW WORLD RECORD! What, does he have something in his
contract that requires an obligatory mention every time the Tigers play? Well
... on second thought, we probably shouldn't crack too hard on this
recurring, cliche FOX tendency. After all, Missouri fans have had precisely
nothing to cheer about since 1978.
THE BOTTOM LINE: If one looked closely on Saturday, he could detect a
miniature flashback in the moments before halftime. In 1981 in Columbia, NU
hit a big pass to set up a touchdown run with :23 left on the clock. The
kicker missed the PAT, but the Huskers held on to win en route to a
conference title and a shot at the national championship. Twenty years later
on Saturday, the Huskers hit a big pass to set up a touchdown run with, yep,
:23 left. And wouldn't you know it, the extra point went awry. Will history
continue to repeat itself against the Iowa State Cyclones next weekend? In
'81, ISU came into Lincoln with a punishing running back and gave the
Cornhuskers fits before falling. Back here in the future, the 'Clones are
unbeaten and smelling upset. But you won't need Marty McFly or Emmitt "Doc"
Brown to figure out how to bet on this one. Time marches on, and so will the
Huskers. Nebraska 31, Iowa State 7.
Red. White. Loon.
Show your true colors in THE POND,
Home of Nebraska's RED CLAD LOON.