SMITH SIZZLES; HUSKERS FIZZLE, 41-24
BIG WED WAP-UP
Two elderly men who hadn't seen each other for several years, met on a street corner one afternoon.
"Do you know who I am?" the man asks as the two shake hands.
The other gentleman looks at him, pauses for a moment and says, "How soon do you have to know?"
That's the way Husker fans feel these days. They never know one day to the next, which Husker team is going to show up. Will it be the one that runs the ball most of the game, one that passes, one that has an even split between running and passing, one that makes circus catches or the one that drops passes your grandmother could make?
No one really knows from game to game if the O-line will let #13 get nearly beheaded or one that doesn't allow a sack the entire game. They don't know if #13 will have time to pass and if he does, will he throw a perfect strike into the end zone for a TD or hang on too long and take a big loss? They don't know if they'll see a defense that overwhelms opponents or one that is as full of holes as a politician's promise.
I said after the Tech game, that if all three phases of the Husker football team (offense, defense and special teams) ever show up at the same time, the Huskers could be dangerous.
All three did show up Saturday-the only problem was they showed up for only one quarter (2nd). The rest of the time, the Huskers had trouble getting even one facet to work consistently. On Saturday, Missouri was (I hate to say) the better coached team and the Tigers played with more determination. And the Tigers had one huge advantage in that game and that was "All World" sensation, Missouri senior quarterback Brad Smith. (Okay, so our defense at times made him look better than he really was.)
Never mind. Smith was brilliant. His performance was one of the best individual displays I've seen in college football in a long time.
After the 41-24 shelling by the Tigers Saturday (which was the score of the 2003 Husker-Tiger game), many fans were bewildered over Kevin Cosgrove's defensive game plan.
Is Brad Smith that good? Absolutely. Will he ever play that well again as a Missouri Tiger? As The Red Clad Loon would say, prolly not.
Brad Smith took a lot of heat after his worst career performance the week before in an OT win over the visiting Iowa State Cyclones. There were many Missouri fans who thought freshman Chase Daniel, because of his performance in the ISU game, should be the starter and that Smith should be the back-up guy. So what does great player do when his back is against the wall?
Come out with a vengeance against Nebraska.
And that's what Brad Smith did Saturday. Against a sometimes confused and questionable Husker defense, Smith took off and never stopped. Thank goodness (for the Huskers) that Missouri head coach Gary Pinkle opted to replace Smith with freshman QB Chase Daniel in the 2nd quarter. The result was a shift in momentum that allowed the Huskers to get back into the game at the half with a 24-24 tie.
And just when Husker fans thought Nebraska was about to take control of the game in the third quarter, Terrence Nunn had the ball stripped from him, the Tigers took over at their own 3 yard line and mounted an 8 play, 97 yard scoring drive that put the Tigers up for good. Momentum had swung in the Tigers' favor and the Huskers were never able to recover.
What's a Husker fan to do these days? Getting shut out in the second half by a defense that is ranked about 100th in the nation, doesn't sit too well with Husker fans. As I said, Mr. Smith may never come close to the performance he had against the Huskers Saturday, but there is no question that he was the difference in the ball game Saturday.
But there are some positives coming out of the Missouri game:
1.) It's the last time the Huskers have to play Brad Smith in Columbia-or anywhere else.
2.) The Huskers likely won't have face the Longhorns for the BT title.
3.) The Huskers are still only one win away from bowl eligibility.
4) The Huskers are hosting the Sooners this Saturday and have games at Kansas, at home with K-State and at Colorado to end the regular season.
5.) All those games are winnable.
LETTERS FROM HUSKER DAN'S ARMY
(Readers: Gary McGirr with the Northeast Kansans For Nebraska alumni organization in Topeka, Kansas forwarded the following email messages to me that were exchanged between Gary and a Husker soldier serving in Iraq. This proves that the members of HUSKER DAN'S ARMY do, indeed, make things happen! Thanks to all of you who are making a difference!)
Dear Lt. Col. Pospisil (USAF)
Our Northeast Kansas alumni/fan chapter are very happy to send you this gift. We appreciate your efforts as well. Thanks for doing what you are doing in Iraq. I will share this note with our board members and members of NE Kansas for Nebraska and with the General of Husker Dan's Army, Husker Dan himself.
Thanks to Dan
we found out about you and several other Nebraskans in Iraq. We sent
a total of 4 sets of DVDs to different locations in Iraq. We will
try to determine if we have the Baylor game or another game recorded
and try to do this again. Thanks again for your service.
Gary McGirr and Northeast Kansas for Nebraska Alumni Chapter.
Just opened your package with the Husker DVDs! Thank you very, very much for your efforts! All I've been able to see prior to this video is a few plays (the Pitt game messed up field goal attempt and block) on ESPN Sports Center. I really appreciate your efforts and I hope to convert a few college football fans with these DVDs! Ross' middle screen play was a thing of beauty!
BTW, while growing up, I lived in Loup City for 5
years--a small town 45 minutes away from Grand Island. My family shopped
in Grand Island all the time at "5 Points" and the Conestoga
Mall. We also competed against Grand Island Central Catholic.
Todd J. Pospisil, Lt Col, USAF
Chief, Security and Justice Sector, Joint Contracting Command-Iraq
APO AE 09316
FROM THE EMAIL BAG:
Dear Husker Dan:
I just had a thought (brilliant idea??). Try to get the word out that for future Husker games, ask fans to bring in a grocery sack with the words "Blackshirts Sack Attack!!" written in large letters on them and hold them up whenever there is a sack of the QB.
What do you think?
"THE HUSKER ELVISES"
Dear Larry: We'll give it a try. Husker fans, listen up!
HUSKER DAN SEZ
Earlier this year, Tulsa World sportswriter, Dave Sittler, (formerly with the Omaha World Herald) wrote a column taking Husker head football coach, Bill Callahan to task for not knowing about the history of the nearly century old rivalry between Nebraska and Oklahoma. In his column, Mr. Sittler referred to former Husker lineman, Bill Callahan's "f-ing hillbillies" remark he (Callahan) made after the Sooners had handed the Huskers a 30-3 butt kicking last year in Norman.
And regarding Bill Callahan's reaction to the orange tossing Sooner fans, Sittler wrote that he was amazed that "Callahan had never witnessed fans throwing objects to celebrate their team's upcoming bowl trip..."
Sittler continues: "Callahan needs to educate himself on why it's (the NU-OU series) considered one of the classiest in all of sports. Callahan apparently still doesn't either grasp the deep pride both schools and their fans take in the 93-year old series, or simply doesn't want to get what makes this game so unique....Where does this uneducated interloper get off with this type of ignorant behavior?...they (Nebraska officials) should order Callahan to do his homework on the rivalry's rich heritage. Callahan has ample time to crack the OU-Nebraska history books before the teams meet October 29th in Lincoln."
First of all, it's unlikely Bill Callahan would have been surprised by fans throwing objects onto the playing field, considering his years as an assistant and head coach of the Oakland Raiders. (Remember, Raider fans are known as "The Battery Chuckers".)
So what could have caused Callahan to make his infamous "hillbillies" comment? Could there have been something else that happened that would have upset the Husker head coach? Could there be more to the story?
The answer may lie in what some Husker fans who were at that game, witnessed that night. Fans told me of seeing some rather sloshed Sooner fans pouring urine on some unsuspecting Husker fans. I don't know if these idiots tried to do the same thing with Husker players and coaches, but if they did, it would be reasonable, in the heat of the moment, for Bill Callahan to refer to those dipsticks as "f-ing hillbillies".
Bill Callahan is the son of a cop and the product of the southside of Chicago. The man's tough as nails-he's seen a lot. Callahan is as competitive as they come and it would be understandable that he would sound off if he and his players had been violated in such a manner. I'm not condoning his behavior, but his comment could have been justified.
I've been to more Husker-Sooner games than I'm willing to admit, and in most cases, the fans on both sides have been classy. But apparently not last year in Norman.
It's best to "fugittaboutit" and move on. There's a game to be played in Lincoln this Saturday. Anybody remember?
There will be much written this week about the great games in the NU-OU rivalry. Some of the greatest highs and lows in Husker history have been experienced in these games. Johnny Rodgers, Jerry Tagge, Jeff Kinney will be interviewed this week. Film clips of the classic games will be shown. And what the broadcasters will be scratching their heads about all week is how these two programs, which were once at the top of the college football world, are now struggling just to become bowl eligible.
Both the 5-2 Huskers and the 4-3 Sooners find themselves in a "must" win situation this Saturday in Lincoln.
The Huskers should win this one. These two teams are pretty evenly matched, with the Huskers having an edge on defense and with their having the home field advantage.
Adrian Peterson, the injured and much heralded Sooner running back may play Saturday, but it will be a question of how effective he will be. OU struggled to beat an improving Baylor Bear team in Norman last Saturday, winning in double overtime.
DON'T SAY A WORD
I wouldn't be surprised if this game also goes into OT. If the Huskers don't take care of ZT and the ball, the Huskers could come out on the short end of the deal. The Big Red of the North has lost 2 out of its last 3 games, so this is a huge game for the Huskers. Win and Nebraska will go bowling, lose and, well, let's not discuss it.
Nebraska has home cookin' and that will mean a lot. The 80,000 red clad Husker Faithful will be loud, the joint will be jumpin'. Hang on to your hats for this one, boys and girls. Huskers win a close one.
THE BILLY-BOBS 24
If you'd like to give Husker Dan a piece of your mind or if you would like him speak at your next Husker event (Husker Dan lives in the Omaha area), you may email him here. For past Husker Dan columns click here.