FOURTH QUARTER COLLAPSE DOOMS HUSKERS, 41-29
BIG WED WAP-UP
Well, at least Brent Musburger didn't do the PBP for ABC-TV. For that, we should all be deeply grateful. But this week, all true blue Husker fans are scratching their heads, wondering what caused the Husker Meltdown Saturday down in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
How could the Huskers, who played so valiantly the week before against a much higher ranked Texas Longhorn team, fall apart just one week later against an unranked team like the Oklahoma State Cowboys?
With an "almost" win over Texas and road wins at K-State and Iowa State, and a 3-1 non-conference season that included a reasonably good showing at Southern California, most Husker fans had pretty much ruled out any Husker meltdowns this season. At the very least, the Huskers would be in a position to win every game this year, right?
UPBEAT TO BEAT UP
Wrong-o. So what happened Saturday at Stillwater?
For starters, let's look at a linebacking corps that once was considered to be one of the strong points of the Husker football team going into this season. But the Husker 'backers are hurting-Brandenburgh's arm is in a cast, McKeon has a high ankle sprain, Octavien is still bothered by a pulled hamstring. Stewart Bradley remains the only healthy one in the lot.
To make matters worse, the Cowboys had just the right players to exploit our weaknesses-a very talented young (Vince Young look-alike?) quarterback, a couple of good running backs and (gasp!), a tall, big, fast wide receiver. Corey McKeon said this week that the Huskers were trying too hard Saturday, that they didn't play disciplined football-they didn't take care of their assignments and were often out of position. As a result, our mistakes enabled the 'Pokes, who were zone blocking, to find the right creases and run to daylight.
NOT SO SPECIAL
Our special teams are fast becoming a liability this year. We missed an extra point and a field goal attempt. Our kickoffs continue to fall far short of the opponent's end zone. Perhaps the biggest mistake was allowing Okie State to return a kickoff 39 yard yards just before the first half. On the next play, the Cowboys scored on a pass to bring the 'Pokes to within 3 points of the Huskers who had led 16-0 earlier in the half.
And Zac Taylor struggled most of the game. Some of his passes were off target and some of those that were catchable were dropped by open receivers.
The Huskers this year have not developed the mental toughness that separates good teams from great teams. But maybe that's putting the cart before the horse. The Huskers right now, are an average football team. But the Huskers, despite Saturday's showing in Stillwater, still have time to take the next step in the Bill Callahan era. Let's hope the Huskers step up this Saturday.
I want to thank all the people with the Bellevue Kiwanis Club, especially Dan Flanagan and Bill O'Brien, for inviting me to speak at their meeting last week. Everyone went out of his way to make me feel right at home. I had a great time. Thanks everybody!
HUSKER DAN SEZ
There isn't much to say about this week's game with the Missouri Tigers in Lincoln. A Husker win will be tantamount to a 2 game advantage in the BTN standings. The winner of this game will be in the driver's seat for the remainder of the regular season. If the Huskers win Saturday, they will need to win 1 of the next 2 games that include a road game at 8-1 Texas A&M and at home against Colorado. It will be a supreme task for the Huskers to come out of College Station with a win, but the Huskers should be able to beat the Buffaloes in Lincoln.
Should the Tigers win this Saturday, they have winnable games at Iowa State and at home against Kansas.
HOME SWEET HOME
If this game were being played in Columbia, this would be a loss for the Huskers. The only advantage the Huskers will have this week is the home field crowd. I've seen it happen so many times-Husker fans have almost willed the Huskers to victory.
This Missouri team is dangerous-they have a quarterback in Chase Daniel who can hurt you with his arm and with his legs. He's a fierce competitor who won't go down easily.
RUN SPOT, RUN
The Huskers should be able to run on the Tigers. If we can run the ball successfully against the Tigers, we should stick with it and not try to get into a passing duel with Missouri.
There is still time, Huskers, but it begins with winning this Saturday. Memorial Stadium will be fighter-jet loud. My ears will be ringing until Sunday.
H U S K E R D A N