H U S K E R D A N
CORNHUSKERS LOOK FOR A "SECOND" CHANCE
September 3, 2010
Husker fans know painfully well that the Huskers came within one second of beating Texas in last year's Big 12 Championship game. They also know that the Longhorns went on to lose 37-21 to Alabama in the national championship game.
To be sure, Nebraska proved toward the end of the year that it could play with anybody in the country. So close and yet so far. It's no wonder Husker fans are optimistic about this year's team.
There are some who have penciled in Nebraska to play for the national championship. Hope springs eternal. I'm tempted to buy into the pre-season hype, but at the end of the day, we must deal with some cold, hard facts.
1.) Lost Ndamukong Suh, who was the most highly decorated defensive player in Husker history.
2.) Lost LB Phillip Dillard, SF Larry Asante and SF Matt O'Hanlon, one of the best open field tacklers in Husker history.
3.) Haven't beat a Top Ten team since Oklahoma came to Lincoln in 2001.
4.) Haven't won a conference championship since '99.
5.) Were 99th in Total Offense last year.
6.) Had back-to-back losses last year to Texas Tech and that powerhouse Iowa State.
THE HUNT FOR A RED OCTOBER
And this year's October schedule looks to be challenging with games @K-State, Texas, @Oklahoma State and Missouri. And check this: Over the past 12 seasons spanning three head coaches, how many times did Nebraska go undefeated in the month of October? (*See the answer below.)
Going into the season, the top three quarterbacks list one senior (Lee), one true sophomore (Green) and one redshirt freshman (Martinez). If Lee isn't the starter for the season, the Huskers are faced with another daunting fact: Nebraska has never won a national championship without either a junior or senior running the offense. I know, there's a first time for everything, but it is what it is.
Also, even if Nebraska were to run the table, the strength of schedule (or lack thereof) might not impress voters or computers enought to put them in the title game. NU faces only one preseason Top 25 opponent (Texas).
DON'T NEED A TOMMIE FRAZIER
I know what you're thinking. "But aren't you overlooking how great the defense was last year? And didn't Bo say that this year's defense was going to be even better? And what about our special teams? They are one of the best in the nation. Our offense won't need to be that great for us to go all the way."
UNCLE RICO AND BETTY WHITE?
There is some truth to that, but I don't buy into the notion that the Huskers could start Uncle Rico at quarterback and still qualify for a BCS bowl game. There are going to be games that the offense is going to have to outscore the opponent. It happened to the Huskers' national championship teams in '94 (Wyoming), '95 (Washington State) and '97 (Missouri).
The quarterback who starts the season #1 may not be the one who finishes the year. If only the Huskers could combine the top three QBs (Taylor Martinez, Zac Lee and Cody Green) into one stud. They would have a three-headed monster who was a 6'4" senior with Eric Crouch's speed. His name would be...Zac Tayco?
*Answer: One (2001)
Big 12 N (Nebraska, Missouri, K-State, Colorado, Kansas and Iowa State)
Big 12 S (Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Baylor)
@ Washington, @K-State and @Texas A&M
*Nebraska will likely be favored in every game this fall, but will not go undefeated.
*Alabama won't repeat as national champions this year.
*The Huskers' bowl opponent will be Virginia Tech.
*Nebraska will hit the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky so hard that they'll have to change their name to Eastern Kentucky...or maybe Western Virginia?
*Look for Uncle Rico to get plenty of PT Saturday.
*Maybe Betty White, too?
*With the exception of the Washington game, the rest of the non-conference schedule is the result of the "Curse of Steve Pederson."
*If the football gods are smiling down on us, Nebraska and Oklahoma will meet for the Big 12 championship in Dallas this December.
THIS JUST IN
*Putting Michigan and Michigan State in the same Big 10 division with Nebraska and bypassing (never say "bypass" to an old person) Wisconsin and Illinois makes no sense.
*Thumbs up for making Iowa the Huskers' last regular season game for the next two years.
*Anyone who feels bad about this year's anemic nonconference Husker schedule won't need to wait long for a change. Next year, the Huskers have nonconference games with Washington, Fresno State and @Wyoming and Big 10 conference games @Wisconsin, Ohio State, @ Penn State, @Michigan and Iowa. Brutal.
HUSKER FANS' SALUTE TO THE TROOPS
It's almost time for our third "Husker Fans' Salute To The Troops" event that will be held the weekend of September 18-19 at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska.
More about that later.
To help raise money for "Salute", we are selling the brand new Husker Dan's Army "Salute The Troops" T-shirts. Last week, I had the chance to attend two radio shows produced by Gerry Gray, owner of Great Plains Marketing (http://www.greatplainsmktg.com/RadioShows.php). Thursday it was "Husker Radio Hour" hosted by former Husker greats Joel Makovicka and Matt Hoskinson. Friday night, it was "Husker Beat Radio Show" hosted by Mike'l Severe and Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star. However that night, subbing for Mike'l was Mrs. Husker Dan's favorite sportscaster, Matt Schick. Matt's regular day gig is co-hosting the "Schick and Nick" sports radio show heard daily from 9 to noon on 1620 The Zone in Omaha. (http://www.1620thezone.com/pages/595819.php)
All four graciously consented to letting me take pictures of them wearing the new, spiffy "Salute" T-shirts.
To order these ($15 plus $5.00 for shipping and handling), send your checks to:
3610 SW Woodvalley Terrace
Topeka, KS 66614
Be sure to specify L, XL or 2XL
All the money we raise goes directly to honoring our men and women of the US armed forces who have and continue to put their lives on the line for the rest of us. They are the true American heroes. They don't ask for much. You can help say thanks to them by donating (www.huskersalute.org) and/or buying these T-shirts.
Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. For past Husker Dan columns, click here.