R E D C L A D L O O N
LOON DROPPINGS, Vol. 8:
Oklahoma 31, Nebraska 14
Growing up in the 1970s, I tended to be a sickly child -- particularly around
Thanksgiving Day, oddly enough. The ailment consisted of a queasy, disgusting
feeling in the pit of my stomach, which, incidentally, grew worse and worse
each time the tune "Boomer Sooner" filled the air. Concerned I was going to
have a relapse, I went for the Pepto-Bismol early in the third quarter of
Saturday's game. It seemed to help, but by the time the Blackshirts found
their own antidote for OU's lethal aerial attack, the Huskers were DOA.
A few takes:
D-FEATED: The pregame pundits talked about this game being a slugfest between
two unstoppable offenses. And by the end of the first stanza, it appeared
they might actually be right for a change. Through the first 15 minutes,
Oklahoma's defense had more holes in it than a murder mystery written by
Britney Spears, but by the time a frightful second quarter drew to a close,
it looked like NU's offense was facing the Boz, Tony Casillas and the Selmon
brothers all at once. In fact, I'm not so sure that OU didn't have 16
defenders out on the field during some plays. The Crouch, Buck and the rest
of the Cornhusker offense never quit fighting, but it seemed like they were
running uphill the whole game. Meanwhile, the supposedly outmanned Sooner
defense was so hot they made Charlize Theron look like Marge Schott.
Oklahoma's inspired defenders were truly the difference in this battle -- if
they play like that every week, they won't need to score 46 points a game to
PUTTIN' ON THE BLITZ: Leading 14-0 after a pair of Crouch-engineered
haymakers and with possession of the football, this "Game of the New Century"
was shaping up just the way the Big Red wanted. On first down, Correll
Buckhalter sliced for seven yards. Bid'ness as usual, right? Wellll ... a
holding penalty backed the Huskers up. That put them out of Bob Griese's
all-important, often-referred-to "comfort zone," which is not to be confused
with an Omaha-area waterbed dealer, and before you knew it the surface of
Owen Field started looking like an Orange Julius. Meanwhile, Nebraska's
first-half blitz package was about as effective as a suggestion box along the
Gaza Strip, leaving No. 14 ample time to distribute the ball to his speedy
legion of receivers. We Loons like to call our team the Big Red Machine, but
it appears after Saturday that the methodical, meticulous Heupel can carry
that nickname all by himself.
POLL VAULT: After wins over Texas, Kansas State and our beloved Cornhuskers,
Stoops' Troops most certainly will ascend to the catbird's seat atop the BCS
rankings. You have to feel good for the long-suffering OU fans -- excluding
the mouth-breathers who make Jethro Bodine look like George Plimpton, mind
you. The question before the Husker Nation, however, is how far the Big Red
will fall. It's probably premature to consider NU out of the national
championship hunt, though they're going to need some massive help now to get
to the Orange Bowl, where it's very likely a pair of one-loss teams will
square off for the title. The Bowl Championship Series was supposed to clear
up who the best team in the country was, but it still comes down to one hard
fact: Lose early, you still gotta shot at playing for the title. Lose late,
and you're voted off the island never to return. To call the BCS rankings a
circus is an insult to bearded ladies and trapeze artists everywhere. Still,
take heart that the pollsters have a shorter attention span than Jennifer
Lopez at an insurance seminar, and with each new week hope springs eternal
for a shot to move up the ranks. Also keep in mind that, like last year,
Nebraska can win out and still wind up in KC to avenge their only loss.
GIVING THE CATS PAUSE: As miserable as you may be, O Husker fan, you can wake
up Sunday morning and utter the following eight words to provide some
much-needed perspective: "At least I don't live in Manhattan, Kansas." Two
weeks ago, Bill Snyder's Kansas State Wildcats were 6-0 and had aims at a No.
1 vs. No. 2 showdown vs. the Cornhuskers on Veterans Day. Apparently, KSU
either A) forgot that they had to play a few games before the Nov. 11 clash
or B) didn't realize that teams with winning records could actually show up
on their schedule. Texas A&M's 26-10 thumping of the 'Cats kept K-State a
game back of Nebraska in the North Division, scrambled the rest of the Big
XII standings and put OU's Nov. 11 showdown with the Aggies in College
Station on equal footing with the one in Manhattan that same day. What a day
for the South Division.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Say what you will about the Husker coaching staff, but I
think Frank is getting better each season. In '98, it took NU five games
before suffering a loss; in '99 it took six. This year, they got to seven
before a loss reared its ugly head. The solution to an unbeaten season,
however, is not in scouting reports, run vs. pass ratios or the abolishment
of a conference championship game. My suggestion to Bill Byrne to ensure an
unbeaten season in 2001? Drop the Kansas Jayhawks from next year's schedule.
In each of Solich's three seasons, the Cornhuskers have lost the week before
they faced KU. Nebraska lost those three games because they were looking past
their opponent and toward the big showdown with the 'Hawks, perhaps. Nah,
that couldn't be it -- over the last three decades, this "rivalry" has been
about as well-balanced as Bob Devaney on St. Patrick's Day. And for an aching
bunch of Huskers, next week's contest should be the salve to solve their
woes. Nebraska 52, Kansas 21.
Red. White. Loon. Take a dip in THE POND,
Home of Nebraska's RED CLAD LOON.