Husker Dan: The Sod Couple, Part VIII
This Friday will be the eighth meeting of the “Sod Couple” – the name I’ve given this “rivalry” game between Iowa and Nebraska. (The record stands at 4-3 in favor of Iowa.)
If you are old enough to remember the very funny play called “The Odd Couple”, you’ll know how I came up with the name. Others have called the big game “Farmageddon” – whatever.
Okay, so why “The Sod Couple”? Well, dirt (sod) is what crops need to grow in, right?
When you think about it, the two schools have a lot in common. Both are in the part of the country that produces a lot of corn, soybeans and alfalfa. Drive through these two states and you notice a lot of the same things: cornfields, tractors, pickup trucks, combines, and country and western music. Throw in some polka bands and granddaddies who play “stomach Steinways” and you have pretty much captured the essence of both states. Oh, yes, there are “big” cities like Des Moines, Lincoln and Omaha, but even if you live in one of those towns, you’re not far from cornfields and radio stations that pump out the music of Reba, Merle, Waylon, Willie, Carrie and Patsy 24/7.
But no. The official name for the Nebraska-Iowa football game is (ho hum) “The Heroes” game. Yup. A trophy is given to the winner and it’s given in honor of the men and women who have done outstanding things for their state.
The award is a good idea, but when there are two college football teams who want nothing more than to beat the crap out of each other, the nicey-nicey nature of the Heroes game seems a bit snowflakey-ish. No problem with honoring great people. In fact, there should be more of that. But as I’ve said in the past, the only trophy needed is just the dang victory.
Floyd of Rosedale (Iowa-Minnesota)? The Old Oaken Bucket (Indiana-Purdue)? The Old Brass Spittoon (Indiana-Michigan State)? Nah.
Black Friday is upon us. It will be the last chance the Cornhusker football program can show how far it has grown under the tutelage of first-year head coach Scott Frost.
Lose the game, and it’ll put a damper on Nebraska’s season. Iowa with 7 wins this year is assured of going to a bowl game, no matter what happens this week in Iowa City.
But if the Huskers can manage to pull out a win, how sweet would that be for the Huskers and their legion of fans. Either way, NU will finish the season with a losing record. But you wonder how much urgency there is to improve on Mike Riley’s four-win season last year.
I think there will be a great deal of incentive for Nebraska to play maybe its best game of the year. But if the Huskers get blown out as they have the past two years, that could leave a sour taste for the offseason. Play close, or even pull out a win and, well, that would be sweet.
What we all saw Saturday in the snow, wind and cold, was a Husker team that refused to lose to Michigan State, one that even a few weeks ago would have found a way to lose that game.
And the way Nebraska won was about as amazing as the win itself. Antonio Reed, who had some pretty bad plays earlier this year, played his best game as a Husker. And Barret Pickering, who struggled for much of the season, came through with three field goals, the last one a 47-yarder that won the game.
And the much maligned Husker defense won the game with guts, determination and passion we haven’t seen in a very long time.
That these three entities came through in the win was about as likely as Tom Osborne doing the cha-cha-cha on “Dancing With The Stars.” Amazing.
One more game. One more moment in the Scott Frost Era. I’m going to go out on a limb and pick the Nebraska Cornhuskers in “The Sod Couple,” Part VIII.
You may contact the writer at HuskerDan@cox.net