R E D C L A D L O O N
LOON DROPPINGS 10:
Nebraska 24, Kansas 3
This year, the knock on the Cornhuskers is that when they go on the road, they quickly lose the fire in their belly, so to speak. And after watching NU get their midsections pounded last week in Austin, more than a few Big Red backers wondered Saturday if they would have the stomach to witness yet another away game. But by the middle of the fourth quarter, it was the ones in blue who were forced to reach for the Tums. The best way to avoid indigestion in the red pants, surprisingly enough, is to stick to a strict diet of putting the ball in the belly of your dancer, then dropping one right into your speedy wideout's breadbasket. And if that doesn't work, just give it to the fullback. He'll get you a score by going right up the gut.
A few takes:
THE NAKED TRUTH: A week after their meltdown against the Burnt Orange took them from Blackshirts to blankshirts, Nebraska's defenders were aiming to reannounce their presence with authority. Didn't happen, not really -- if the ball had bounced a little differently for KU in the red zone, this game would have probably gotten more riveting than the complete boxed set of the Tommy-and-Pamela vacation videos. 'Course, this contest was also an offsides call on a field goal away from being a shutout, too. So, all things being equal, Kansas coming up 30 points and 150 yards short of its typical day on offense, at home no less, probably ain't nothin' to sneeze at. Heck, by the end of the game, Adam Barmann had a limp that was so bad, Bob Kerrey was urging him to get it checked out. Ruuuuuuud continued his climb up the tackle charts, Demo got in his usual nuclear detonations, and hey -- let's hear it for Jerrell Pippens, who was sicker'n a dog Saturday but decided to feed his cold by blocking a kick, intercepting a pass that set up a Big Red score, and registering 10 tackles. Loon likes underrated players stepping up big, especially when they're fighting the flu. This week's game ball and some Nyquil goes to No. 31.
WONDER TWIN POWERS, ACTIVATE: It's fair to say that four short words sum up Husker fans' sentiments following Saturday's win: God Bless Momma Bullocks. There was Kansas, dinking and dunking their way down the field on its way to turning the contest into a 10-all tossup, when Danny Boy was there, in sunshine and in shadow, to get the biggest pinch of the year for the Husker D. And of course, brother Josh got his nation-leading ninth on the next series to set up a second Husker touchdown. Sure, it was a poacher pick, but Josh is just one of those guys, like Jon Vedral and Mike Brown and Shevin Wiggins, who have that cool knack of being in the right place at the right time. To paraphrase Samuel Goldwyn: The harder Josh works, the luckier he gets.
CHOP SHOP: During a replay of the final play of Nebraska's abominable option-left, option-right, option-right series to start the second half, the TV cameras provided a glimpse of the trailing pitch man, No. 22, Cory "Pork Chop" Ross. At the time, you figured Frank was just giving Ross his token series before going back to Davis or Horne. But 19 carries and 108 jitterbugging yards later, Ross suddenly finds himself the flavor of the week. His shimmying style seems best suited to mask the offensive line's blocking deficiencies, as he's able to slip through those itty-bitty cracks in the defense. Ross ain't exactly your typical scat-back, though -- kid can throw a wallop on a defender to go along with his speed and elusiveness. As to the O-Line, Cotton's crew did turn in a much more inspired effort than the one in Austin -- in other words, they actually showed up this week. Noncognito simply mauled his man all day, and he was so lathered up that he finished his day hocking a loogie on a Jayhawk as the teams left the field. All this was against Kansas, mind you, a unit that surrendered 45 points to A&M last weekend, but it's a step forward. And with this gang any progress, however slight, is worth noting. And celebrating.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Don't look now, but Gary Barnett suddenly has the Bluffs playing football again. Suppose the Cornhuskers should thank SeeYou this week for tagging Mizzou with another conference loss and making things a bit clearer in the North. That is, next week's game in Lincoln will most likely determine the division representative in the Dr. Pepper Get Bludgeoned By Oklahoma Big 12 Championship Game in Kansas City. Now that Nebraska has had its traditional get-well game against Kansas -- that's the fifth time in the last six years that NU has restored order with a win over the 'Hawks the week after a loss -- they turn their attention to KSU. The Wildcats, the spunkiest unranked three-loss team in the land, are fully expecting to leave Lincoln victorious for the first time since 1968. Much of this is based on the fact that their last few opponents have been tossed around like a 98-pound stripper at a fraternity house. It goes without saying, however, that Nebraska is not Iowa State. Expect the Black to be back on Saturday, and J. Lo & Co. to do just enough to win. That's right -- the 'Cats will come in with an Ell, and leave with one, too. Nebraska 17, Kansas State 14.
Baud to the bone.
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