Husker Dan: And Then There Were Three
After the Huskers’ embarrassing 56-10 loss earlier this season at Michigan, Nebraska head football coach Scott Frost declared, “This is our darkest moment. And remember, it’s always darkest before the dawn.” (I’m paraphrasing.)
And most of us were fine with the positive nature of Frost’s words, but many thought the bottom would not be reached until the Huskers faced Ohio State at the Horseshoe later in the season.
Husker fans knew all too well that the worst beatings Nebraska has had the past two years have been against the Buckeyes. So when Frost uttered his “darkest” comment after the loss to the Wolverines, fans were convinced things were going to get darker – a lot darker when they traveled to Ohio State.
Now fast forward to Saturday’s actual game with the Buckeyes. The Huskers went into the game as an 18-point dog. But lo and behold, Nebraska actually led at the half and was in position to win the game late into the fourth quarter.
How was that even possible?
Number one: Nebraska played perhaps its best game of the season in the 36-31 loss. In the previous two games with Ohio State, the Buckeyes didn’t have to punt even once! But Saturday, the Buckeyes were forced to punt four times.
Number two: In my opinion, something is going on with the Buckeye football program. I’m not sure what it is, but I suspect there are some internal issues that are affecting the entire football team.
In fact, if you didn’t know anything about either of the two teams Saturday (NU and Ohio State) other than one team was ranked in the Top Ten and the other had a 2-6 record, there were many times you’d be hard pressed to know which team had the losing record.
We should have seen this one coming. Earlier this year, OSU struggled in a win over TCU – a team that KANSAS beat! The Buckeyes barely beat Penn State – a team Michigan throttled over the weekend – and the Buckeyes beat a hapless Minnesota team by only 16 points – the same team Nebraska pummeled 53-28 a couple of weeks ago.
As I said, something’s not right in Columbus.
Given OSU’s problems, I don’t in any way want to diminish Nebraska’s effort at the Horseshoe. The Huskers were in position to win the dang game – something no one on the planet would have thought possible. (The players believed they could win, which is a huge step forward in the maturing of Frost’s first Nebraska team.)
PLAY OF THE GAME ON D?
I loved JoJo Domann’s (#13) first-half sack of Buckeye quarterback Dwayne Haskins on Saturday. Haskins got up a little slowly after Domann’s hit. Nice work for JoJo (a Colorado native) who’s been dealing with injuries most of the year. Let’s hope he can go full strength the rest of the season. (https://twitter.com/CFBONFOX/status/1058771423928365056).
Poor Caleb Lightbourn will never live down his infamous whiff of a first-quarter onside kick attempt. I’m sure #35 will have better days ahead. (http://www.espn.com/video/clip?id=25166113)
GET OFF YOUR FANNY
When Bob Devaney came to Lincoln in ’62, people didn’t know how to pronounce his last name. Some called him “da-VANE-ee” while others called him “da-VANN-ee.” The latter was the correct way. And to get the word out to Husker fans, someone came up with the slogan: “Get off your fanny and help Bob Devaney!”
But Scott Frost doesn’t have a problem with people not knowing how to pronounce his name, but I still think he should have his own slogan, or maybe even several.
“SPARE NO COST, STAND WITH SCOTT FROST!”
Or in a season that hasn’t gone as well as everyone would have liked, how about this one?
“ALL’S NOT LOST, STICK WITH SCOTT FROST”
Or, “DON’T GET SAUCED, JUST HELP SCOTT FROST”
Okay, I’ll quit...
FROST’S RECORD AS A HEAD COACH
So far this year, in what is Scott Frost’s third year as a head coach (two at UCF and through nine games at Nebraska), he stands at a .600 winning rate. That’s not bad, considering the Huskers’ dreadful start this year. If NU wins out, Frost could finish the season at .632. Also not bad considering he will have had two losing seasons out of three as a head coach. And you know what? Frost’s career coaching record is still better than former Husker head football coach Mike Riley’s career record!
WHY FROSTY CAME HOME?
Last Thursday night, I watched Central Florida’s home game with, at the time, a 5-3 Temple team. The game was nationally televised and in the fourth quarter, it was a two-point game, advantage Knights. But when the camera showed the crowd, there were 100s of empty seats! It was T-shirt weather and Central Florida sports the nation’s longest winning streak (22). Go figure.
But at Nebraska, a team with a losing record will still draw 90,000 fans nearly every home game. It’s hard not to believe that having a strong fan base to play in front of was a big reason Scotty came home. And I’m so glad he did.
AND THEN THERE WERE THREE
The season has sped by at an alarming rate. Nebraska has been through three-fourths of its schedule, leaving only three more games to play.
And of the three, the toughest game that lies ahead, in my view, will be the game at Iowa.
Had it not been for three plays, there is a good chance the Hawkeyes would be undefeated. Saturday, Purdue kicked the game-winning field goal with 8 seconds to go in the game to down the Hawkeyes. And at Penn State with just minutes to go, Iowa was near the Lion goal line likely for the winning TD, when there was an audible called by Hawkeye QB Nate Stanley. But TE Noah Fant didn’t hear it. The play resulted in a PSU interception that effectively ended the game for the Hawkeyes. And Iowa’s home game earlier this year with Wisconsin saw an Iowa player blocking on the Hawkeye punt return team. He didn’t know where the ball was and accidentally let the ball touch him. Wisconsin recovered and had a short field for a TD. That turned out to be the difference in the game.
The Huskers are 18-point favorites going into this Saturday’s game with the Fighting Illini – a game that kicks off at 11 a.m. at Memorial Stadium. After that, Michigan State comes to town. The 6-3 Spartans (as of this week) have lost to Northwestern, beat Penn State and lost by 14 to Michigan. MSU is a good team, but I think Nebraska has a very good chance of winning that one – especially at home.
But the game I’d most like to see the Huskers win? Easy. Iowa. End of story.
ANOTHER LOSS IN HUSKERLAND
Huskerland lost another devoted Husker football fan last week. Dave Ballard and I worked for the same company for many years. Dave loved to fish in Canada for walleye and northern. He also was also an avid mountain climber and ran in many marathons.
But tragically, after a five-month battle with cancer, Dave passed away. He was a great family man, who loved his grandkids and was deeply loved by them, too. What a great legacy he leaves!
You may contact the writer at HuskerDan@cox.net