R E D C L A D L O O N
LOON DROPPINGS, Vol. 9
Nebraska 20, Oklahoma 10
Earlier this month, former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev had to delay a
scheduled late-October trip to the University of Nebraska, where he had
planned to wax nostalgic about the Cold War. Too bad, really -- had Gorby
showed, he could have stuck around for Saturday's NU-OU game, where his old
party's favorite color was on full display. In front of a Sea of Red, the Big
Red of the North battled the Big Red of the South, and the result was a
massive defensive buildup that would have made Leonid Brezhnev proud. Stoops'
Troops fought hard, but in the end it was the Cornhuskers who pushed all the
right buttons. And how fitting it was, too, that the final strike in this
epic war was launched by -- yep, you guessed it -- a Roosky.
A few takes:
THE COUNCIL BLUFF: So here was Nebraska, with the ball and clinging to a
three-point fourth-quarter lead, and things looking shakier than a hostage
situation being negotiated by Adrian Fiala. Our friends at ABC, safely
assuming that Solich was going to call three straight fullback dives, were
rummaging around for stock footage of Buster Rhymes, Elvis Peacock and Keith
Jackson so they could rub some salt in what was obviously going to be an
inevitable Sooner rally. But suddenly, in a flash of superlative scarlet, the
world discovered why they call NU's head man "Fearless" Frankie. Key to The
Play's success was the fact that Flash had already skewered the Okies earlier
on a similar reverse. And how about "Babyface" Mike Stuntz of Council Bluffs,
who is suddenly the most loved caucasian freshman since Matt Davison, hitting
Eric The Red in full stride to convert the sweetest Cornhusker score in
years? For Solich, this call answered a horde of nagging questions about his
game-management skills. In fact, about the only question left now is: Frank,
how in the world do you walk around with balls that big?
HOMELAND DEFENSE: After last week's track meet against the Red Rooters, many
figured Oklahoma's fleet corps of receivers would do even more damage to the
Blackshirts. Shaaaame, shaaaaame. This is the second straight year that the
Texas Tech Litmus Test Theory has gone awry -- time to put it to rest. Behind
inspired efforts by linebacker Jamie Burrow and a pair of hobbling
cornerbacks, Nebraska's defenders went out and won one for the Gimpers.
Kelsay was everywhere, and the Huskers' Petit-like rotation of D-linemen
ensured that the 'Shirts were the strongest unit in the end. But we in The
Pond would be remiss if we did not mention NU's honorary 12th defender on
Saturday -- Tom Osborne. Field, that is. The key stat in this contest is not
EC's one catch for 63 yards. It's FieldTurf 2, OU quarterbacks 0.
TAKING OFFENSE: NU, obviously, struggled to get its patented option game
working. But as soon as they went to the power, with Dee Dee slashing through
holes opened up on the Isolation -- pick a fullback, any fullback -- it was
easier to see than Dirk Diggler in spandex biker shorts that the Huskers
could move the ball, by golly. But what truly warmed the cockles of my
red-clad heart was Eric the Red's timely tosses. Before the game, I was
unsure that passing the football was the perfect answer to the Spooners'
mighty D, but then again, I would never have let Benjamin Bratt leave "Law &
Order," either. And now our very own "Lincoln Navigator" takes over the
driver's seat for the Heisman Trophy. If not EC, then who? Dantzler? Two
words: North Carolina. Foster? Outsmarted by Stanford. Harrington? He plays
for freaking OREGON. The only thing that would keep No. 7 off a plane to NY
is if they're serving unauthorized ham sandwiches during the flight. Just
hand him the trophy.
AND JUSTICE FOR ALL: Loons, Saturday is proof that there is a god. Remember
last year in Norman, when Andre Woolfolk caught a pass off his own tootsies
against a snakebit Erwin Swiney? Well, No. 16 -- who has suffered share of
bad breaks during his 7 1/2 years as a Husker -- finally got a bounce to go
his way. His third-quarter pick off a ricochet was a huge game-changer. And
apparently, it's easier to see a face-mask penalty in Lincoln than Manhattan
-- a zeebruh actually saw Crouch's headgear getting tugged. Hey, they say
justice is blind, but on Saturday, she was wearing red-colored glasses. 'Bout
THE BOTTOM LINE: The most pleasing thing about this win was not the fact that
Nebraska passed its most difficult test of the year with flying colors. It
was not Thunder Collins gliding down the sideline. It was not a peach-fuzzed
understudy hitting his mentor for a 63-yard score. It was that the goal posts
at Memorial Stadium still stand. Hey, I'm all for euphoria, except when
granolas use it as their daughter's first name, but let's try to contain
ourselves, eh? The 2001 season isn't a sprint, it's a marathon -- and there
are still at least three big checkpoints left in this race, plus a possible
rematch with the Okies. The home stretch starts this week in Lawrence, Kan.
-- and in case your memory needs to be jogged, the last time NU ran into the
Jayhawks on the road it was darned-near a photo finish. But it looks like
these Cornhuskers are geared up to show a strong finishing kick. Run,
Huskers, Run. Nebraska 42, Kansas 10.
Baud to the Bone.
Play Infuriating Husker Trivia in THE POND,
Home of Nebraska's RED CLAD LOON.