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Wake Forest 2007

We were very lucky to beat Wake Forest. And unlike some who write about the Huskers, I’m not trying to make the word “lucky” into some sort of clever pun in honor of our starting RB.

Overcoming the late turnover, Callahan’s odd decision to forgo the late field goal attempt or punt the ball, the quick whistle that negated a Castille fumble, the noncall on Grixby’s “interference” on Wake’s final pass — rarely do we get so fortunate in the same fourth quarter.

Mind you, it’s a very good thing anytime you can beat a team on the road — a defending conference champion, no less — without really bringing your “A” game. This was exactly the kind of contest we’ve found a way to lose more often than not over the past several seasons.

Suh and Bowman pretty much saved the day: Suh, with his tackle on the down before the interception, which knocked Wake back for a loss and probably contributed to their QB pressing to make a play — and Bowman with his perfect endzone pick.

As listless as the team looked at times in this game, I have to say that it is a pleasure to even be able to write about Bowman heroics in this column, this early in the season, because in theory the guy shouldn’t even be back from injury yet. Yeah, I’m counting our blessings and that’s definitely one of them.

Octavien, Suh, and Bowman were the difference makers at key moments in this game. Everyone else on defense was pretty average.

Before halftime, we got a glimpse of what this offense can be at its best. We still have senior players dropping passes and killing drives, which is disturbing. Keller is demonstrating a pattern of being turnover-prone. Lucky has his moments, but we still can’t seem to get two yards in two tries when it most matters.

Bottom line: the Huskers won but looked shaky doing it. They didn’t really look like a team ready to rumble with the #1 team in the land. Which leads me to…


Is USC really the best team out there? I have some doubts. Not that it matters, but if I was an AP voter, I’d have put Florida #1 to start the year. These aren’t the Trojans of 2004 or 2005. Or even of 2006. They are beatable. (So are we, of course.) USC lost two phenomenal players at the WR position who toyed with us last year. Their replacements are good — everyone at USC is good — but are they difference-maker good? They also lost a pretty good kicker from last year’s team. Booty isn’t really that great. He has great games, but plenty of so-so ones.

No question about it, their defense is fast and talented. We will need an effort out of Keller he hasn’t displayed in the first two games. Taking care of the ball will be uber-important this week. Purify also needs to shake off his rust. Both he and Lucky need to have the kind of games they both wanted so badly to have last year. The big play from the WR position will need to be there for us Saturday night. And Callahan will need better play selection than the tentative streak displayed at the Coliseum last year. My fingers are crossed that if (when?) we break out the razzle-dazzle trick play, it doesn’t end up backfiring.

Just for kicks I went back and studied the losses USC had last year. Both were on the road, when the Trojans were ranked #3 and #2 respectively. USC lost the turnover battle in those games by a combined 5 to 0. That’s right. To beat USC, Oregon St. and UCLA both played turnover-free games at home.

Do these Huskers have a game like that in them?


The Wake game didn’t exactly instill confidence, but actually, I’m glad the team didn’t look that great against the Demon Deacons. Maybe it will add some fire to take on the Trojans. (Is it just me, or does seeing “Demon Deacons” and “Trojans” so close together in the same paragraph seem a bit odd?)

Okay, I’ll leave you with this final little anecdote:

This week, for me, it’s personal. I will be bringing my daughter to Memorial Stadium for the first time. She actually wants to don the cornhead. I couldn’t be more proud. The last game I was at was NU-OU in 2001 — “Solich’s signature win,” as they say. Read into that what you will.

The new book I’ve written, DARK FRIDAY, is actually going to be “officially” released on the 15th. I’ve heard it might be available at the Nebraska Bookstore on Saturday (and if not, then by the following week). My book signing tour begins on Sunday the 16th in the Kansas City area. Which is all to say that, for me, it’s either now or never to make it to a game this year. I’m rolling the dice this week. If you see a screaming goateed man in the stands next to a teenage girl wearing a cornhead, it might very well be Mr. Scarlet Commentary.

There is no place like…

You know it.

The voice of the Scarlet Commentary is Jeffrey Leever, a Nebraska native who now writes for an advertising agency in Kansas City. He is a 1994 graduate of the University of Nebraska (Kearney) and author of the suspense novels Dark Friday and Even in Darkness. He has been known to include a tribute to Tommie Frazier and other Nebraska references in his novels. His website is www.jeffreyleever.com. Contact Jeff here.