R E D C L A D L O O N
LOON DROPPINGS 11:
Kansas State 38, Nebraska 9
Fuel for thought: Amoco Oil Co. was bought some time back by British Petroleum, but it took until this fall for the familiar red-white-and-blue gas station symbols to disappear and be replaced by green ones emblazoned with the letters "BP." Around these parts, many people thought those letters actually stood for "Bo Pelini" -- after all, it was he who was getting the credit in recent months for juicing the Big Red Machine up into serviceable shape. But as the Cornhuskers have gone further down the road in '003, it's become evidently clear that they've begun to run out of gas. What a time to slam into a high-octane foe like Kansas State, who by the time everything was said (and said ... and said ...) and done Saturday turned NU's rock-ribbed defense into just so much petroleum jelly. The only thing left for a Loon to do after witnessing the worst throttling in Lincoln since Ike was building interstates? Well, how about getting really tanked?
A few takes:
J. LOW: Watching LR3 woofing at Nebraska's quarterback at midfield before the game made the Red Clad Loon suddenly drift back to 1983, to the cataclysmic ending of the American cinematic epic "Rocky III." That's the one where the Italian Stallion danced about the ring, shouting and cleverly goading his opponent, Clubber Lang, into making a mistake. That's right, Sly got inside Clubber's mohawked noggin, went about his business and watched his opponent implode. Something similar happened on Tom Osborne Field on Saturday. After playing an inspired first half -- five whole completions in a row on the final second-quarter drive, hokey smokes -- Jammal turned into, well, Jammal. That is, he runs like a damned gazelle, but he throws like one, too. Those hardy souls who braved it out until the final moments Saturday witnessed the end of an era in Lincoln. Not just Lord's Last Stand, but the final chapter of a Cornhusker recruiting philosophy of taking a raw athlete out of high school -- ech, maybe he can throw a spiral, maybe he can't -- and eventually turn him into an effective run-throw quarterback for a National Championship contender. Meantime, Roberson simply went Tecmo on the Blackshirts, accounting for a must-be-a-misprint 403 yards, truly defining what it takes to be a "crazy 'Cat." Congratulations, Ell, you're the first KSU quarterback since the dawn of time to have a winning record against Nebraska. Enjoy your trip to the Holiday Bowl.
THANK HEAVEN FOR SEVEN: Or it might have been worse. Amid the hand-wringing, wrist-slashing and Solich-Countdown-Clock-synchronizing, let us focus on one of the bright spots for the Big Red on Saturday. Demorrio Williams, as he has done every weekend this fall, was all over the field being a playmaker. Williams finished with 14 tackles, nine all by his lonesome, and got the only two schmacks of the game that resulted in a loss of yards for KSU. With the score 31-7 in the fourth and Kansas State with the ball, ABC cut to a shot of Williams slamming up against his teammates, trying anything in his power to turn back the avalanche that had fallen in Lincoln. The only thing he couldn't do Saturday was circle the globe at light-speed to reverse the earth's rotation and thereby turn back time, like Christopher Reeve did while wearing his blue tights. Demorrio was super on Saturday, but he wasn't Superman. Regardless, a deflated and scuffed game ball from this Senior Day goes to No. 7. Thanks, Demo, we hardly knew ye.
THE RUNNING (IT UP) MAN: It was a bittersweet feeling to see Sticky Ricketts nab an INT late in the game to halt was was certain to be yet another Wildcat touchdown drive. On one hand, you had to feel good for Pat, the first guy the opponents look to pick on each week, in getting a pinch in his final home game. But it sucked that KSU was so far ahead at that point, it was completely unnecessary for the Wildcats to throw. As far as Bo's "what-the-hell-were-you-thinking-running-up-the-score-like-that" speech to Dr. Evil at the end of the game goes, well, from his perspective Pelini is probably right. He was the only one on the field with that perspective, however -- over the last decade, there's been enough animosity between these two schools to start a small war. And Bo wasn't around when KSU would patsy their way up to Lincoln, a la 1976, 1984, 1989 ... or hell, 2001, for that matter. For years, Nebraska padded their fat stats at the expense of the undermanned 'Cats. I know that being a die-hard fan means you have to have some selective amnesia, but it was just two years ago when Eric Crouch was carrying the ball on three straight plays to close out a game that was well in hand. Husker fans lecturing others about running up the score is like Gordon Gekko complaining about double-dealing in the stock market. Dr. Evil's machine-like playcalling sucks, but if you can't get over it, then look at this way -- when walk-ons like Seth White and Kevin Guse came to Nebraska, they dreamed of playing against guys like Ell Roberson and Darren Sproles. Thanks to Frank Solich and Bill Snyder, those dreams have now been realized (sigh).
THE BOTTOM LINE: Do you know when your favorite team has hit rock bottom? When the opponent actually tries to give you two free points by having their punter run out of the end zone, but you line up offsides and render the safety null and void. Do you know when your favorite team has really hit rock bottom? When its senior quarterback can't handle the exchange from his senior center on a designed quarterback sneak play, and the other team recovers. Do you know when your favorite team has really, really hit rock bottom? When you can't even cling to the old "well, they're a much better team at home" theory any more, which was basically the last and very final gimmick in your red utility belt. And so, the final home game (show) of the season is all wrapped up, Loons. NU didn't exactly walk away as grand prize winners, but for their performance Saturday they earned a nice parting gift: A trip to lovely Boulder, Colorado (cue simulated studio-audience applause here)! Back in September, the Buffs didn't even look worthy of being a contestant in this one, did they? But sure as shootin', Gary Barnett has CU's Wheel of Fortune spinning when it counts. Unfortunately, the Huskers can't say the same. Nebraska hasn't had back-to-back losses all season, but unless something crazy happens, they're in Jeopardy. Is it time for the Dailey double? Will it matter? Nope. Colorado 27, Nebraska 13.
Red. White. Loon.
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Home of Nebraska's RED CLAD LOON.