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After the Kansas game, Bo Pelini voiced his displeasure at the lack of enthusiasm displayed by Husker fans in Nebraska's 20-3 win over the hapless Jayhawks Saturday night in Lincoln. He said the fans' lackluster behavior was more typical of a Husker scrimmage.
To be sure, this isn't the first time Husker fans have been criticized for sitting on their hands. Some of it is justifiable. The ticket holders are getting too old and therefore, less inclined to be vocal, some say, while others say fans are just too spoiled.
Yes, fans are fickle and sometimes not as geeked up as they should be. This year's Texas game comes to mind. It was hard to believe that the Huskers were playing a revenge match with the Longhorns. October 16th was the date circled on every Husker fan's calendar since last year's one point loss to Texas in the Big 12 Championship.
In the crowd's defense that day, there wasn't a lot to cheer about until Eric Hagg's electrifying punt return late in the game. That was the only touchdown the Huskers would score that day in a 20-13 loss to the Longhorns.
But aren't these the same people who show up each spring to the tune of 70,000 to watch the Huskers' annual Red-White spring scrimmage? Seventy thousand fans for a meaningless scrimmage? Are you kidding me?
So what's going on here? Does Bo have a point? Should Husker fans be more vocal at home games?
Perhaps the "blame" should be placed on unrealistic expectations on the part of the fans as well as that of the head coach. For two weeks in a row, Nebraska has been heavy favorites over much less talented opponents-18 points over Iowa State and 35 over Kansas. This is a Cyclone team that had given up 35 points to Iowa, 38 to Texas Tech, 68 to Utah, 52 to Oklahoma and yet the Huskers needed an OT period to hit 31 points. And it took a bad throw on a fake extra point attempt to preserve the 31-30 win for the Huskers.
And Saturday night, it was much the same. The Jayhawks had lost to North Dakota State (6-3) to start the season. Kansas also surrendered 55 points to Baylor, 59 to Kansas State and 45 to Texas A&M. Surely (stop calling me Shirley) the Huskers would blow Turner Gill's Jayhawks out of Memorial Stadium Saturday night. But again, the Husker offense could muster only 20 points against a defense that is one of the worst in the country.
If anything, Husker fans should be saluted for coming out on a frigid night game in mid-November. With game-time temps in the 30s Saturday night, people were bundled up trying to avoid hypothermia. Give 'em a break!
And Bo is probably thinking, our coaching staff has turned around a Husker football program that was headed for the crapper before he took over. Since then, Bo's Husker teams have gone 9-4 in '08 including a Gator Bowl win over Clemson. And last year, with a great defense and myriad injuries to his offense, the Huskers came within one second of winning the Big 12 championship. And the Huskers hit the 10-win mark for the first time since 2003.
And this year, his Huskers are 9-1 and ranked in the Top Ten in the BCS standings. The Huskers have had to overcome the loss of two of its starting linebackers, Sean Fisher and Will Compton (Compton has since returned to the starting lineup), and season-ending injuries to TE Dreu Young and offensive lineman Mike Smith.
His quarterback corps has been depleted with his star player, Taylor Martinez, missing 1½ games due to injury. Even though he played the entire game Saturday night, Martinez was nowhere near his usual form. But despite those setbacks, the Huskers are within one win of representing the Big 12 North once again in Dallas. And by winning the rest of their games, the Huskers could end up with their best record (13-1) since Tom Osborne's national championship team finished 13-0 in 1997.
So Bo might have some justification in his criticisms. "Look at all I've done for you," he might think. At the end of the day, we need to remember that Bo has been a head coach at Nebraska not quite three years. He's not a finished product. I'm wondering if Bo will be attending the Tom Osborne Finishing School to learn the finer points of the game.
This is a good piece on former Husker great Ndamukong Suh.
November 16th is Eric Crouch's 32nd birthday. He's come a long way since his YMCA basketball days. Congratulations, Eric!
Several weeks ago in our continuing efforts to raise money for Husker Dan's Army, we auctioned a photograph of Ndamukong Suh, taken by and donated to HDA by Fremont photographer Dean Jacobs. The winner of the bid, Myles Frohling Jr., might not ring a bell to many of you, but Myles holds a unique place in the history of Husker Dan's Army.
It was Army Sgt. Myles Frohling Jr. who wrote me about five years ago from Iraq, where he was deployed, asking if I could help him get some Husker gear he could hand out to the children of Iraq. He wanted to use the gear to create goodwill among the children he engaged each day.
I posted his letter in my column. The result was overwhelming. He got boxes of Husker caps, shirts, sweatshirts etc. from people in Irvine, Calif.; Dallas, Texas; and Long Island, N.Y. The boxes kept coming. Finally, Myles wrote me begging that no more boxes be sent! Because of this experiment, we learned two things: The power of the Internet and the generosity of Husker fans.
And so Husker Dan's Army was created. The Northeast Kansans For Nebraska (a Husker alumni group), under the direction of group president Gary McGirr, offered to handle the donations and coordinate the sending of Husker Care packages. Gary solicited the help of The Red Zone, a Husker apparel store in Omaha, to fill the boxes and ship them overseas. Since the launching of HDA, we have provided a touch of home to hundreds of men and women deployed in the Middle East in the U.S. armed services.
If you'd like to donate to this cause, please send your donations to:
Gary McGirr
3610 Woodvalley Terrace
Topeka, KS 66614
If you know of anyone serving in the military in the Middle East who is not on our HDA list, please email me at HuskerDan@cox.net. We will need the trooper's APO address, length of deployment and his/her email address. We also can arrange for game day DVDs to be sent to any trooper who registers with us.
Saturday's showdown at College Station is going to be a clash of forces: Nebraska is #1 in the conference and #7 nationally in rushing offense (282.3 ypg). A&M is #7 in the conference and 68th nationally in run defense (112.2 ypg). Nebraska is #1 in the conference and #1 nationally in pass efficiency defense (91.55 ypg). A&M averages 469.5 yards per game in total offense (308.1 passing and 161.4 rushing). The Huskers are #1 in the conference in total defense, allowing just 292.9 yards per game.
So it's the Husker rushing attack versus the Aggies' passing attack. On paper, A&M's offense is a good match-up for Nebraska's defense.
If the Huskers can run the ball, not turn it over and if the Blackshirts can pick up where they left off last Saturday against Kansas, the Huskers should come out of College Station with a very big win. If they do, Nebraska will have eliminated Missouri (yes!!) from the Big 12 North title and will have secured the Huskers a second straight appearance in the Big 12 Championship game December 4th.
Nebraska 41 Texas A&M 31

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