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Winging It, Vol. 1

Happy August, Loons! There are so many things worthy of celebrating this month. Lots of anniversaries, like the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ... Marilyn Monroe's overdose ... Iraq's invasion of Kuwait ... the start of World War I ... oh, and Troy Edwards' 14-catch, 967-yard game vs. Nebraska in the '98 Eddie Robinson Classic. (Sigh) Good times.

August, of course, also signals the start of the college football season, and I know that I speak for a vast majority of the Husker Nation when I say: About Freaking Time. Don't get me wrong; that College World Series thing was a nice, if anticlimactic, midsummer distraction. But college football -- that time-honored Nebraska pastime where you watch young men slamming into each other on a plastic field at high noon while they wear 15 pounds of brightly-hued insulation -- now THAT's really where it's at.

Seems like this season, unlike other college football seasons in recent memory, this year's chase for the National Championship is really wide open, with no clear front-runner. Never before have there been so many legitimate preseason contenders. Which means you can expect even more disappointing failures, underachievers and overrated chumps than you see in a typical season.

While such meltdowns are fun to watch, it sure makes things a heck of a lot harder to predict. Still, every season yours truly, The Red Clad Loon, rolls out a bunch of preseason pigskin prognastications. These prophesies are based on hours and hours of legwork, research, investigation and, when that inevitably fails, one of those toy-store eightballs with answers that bubble up to the surface.

I'm fairly confident that the following will, or will not, happen this year:

-- Before the 2001 season even kicks off, a tumult fills the air when Big Ten and Pac-10 elitist blueblood loyalists bewail the fact that the Rose Bowl, the site of this year's BCS title game, will be a disgusting departure from the game's elitist, blueblood tradition. For example, they say, this year the Rose Bowl will be played in Prime Time, will take place after all other bowl games have been played, and will actually mean something for a change.

-- On Sept. 1, Michigan ekes out a 17-14 win against Miami-Ohio, despite fumbling seven times in their own territory. "Boy, we really overcame a lot of adversity today," Wolverine receiver Marquise Walker says.

-- The Middle East is brought back from the brink of an apocalyptic war when Bob Stoops is dispatched to the embattled region in a last-ditch attempt to broker a peace accord. His solution is simple: He emphatically urges Palestinians and Israelis to move beyond hating each other and do what every other civilized group on the planet does. Hate Texas.

-- Colorado, which returns 17 starters from last year's 3-8 squad, is determined to make a statement in their season opener against Colorado State. They do: "We still smell like an elephant's butt."

-- Miami piano-wires Penn State 46-3 on Sept. 1 in Happy Valley. Joe Paterno, asked by reporters at a post-game press conference if the game has passed him by, responds: "Heck, no. That Vinny Testaverde kid is just a really, really good quarterback."

-- In an exclusive report, a Husker Web site reveals that a highly sought-after quarterback recruit from Florida thinks "$39 a year is an extremely, extremely reasonable fee to pay to read other people speculate."

-- On Sept. 8, some 25,000 Notre Dame fans flood Memorial Stadium, turning the usual sea of red into Christmas in September. Predictably, the blame for selling out falls on the exact same group who took the blame for booing Scott Frost in '97 ... those dadgummed students.

-- Bolstered by the crowd, the Fighting Irish block three Husker punts and lead in the fourth quarter before losing, 28-21. "Boy, we really overcame a lot of adversity today," linebacker Jamie Burrow says.

-- In his ongoing effort to live up to the legacy of great Cornhusker running backs, Southern California native Thunder Collins hangs up his No. 1 jersey and leaves Lincoln following his junior season. He is subsequently drafted by Dick Vermeil.

-- Responding to public outcry after a series of arrests again crop up in Tallahassee, Bobby Bowden announces he will hunt down all the thugs, criminals and convicts at Florida State and, if necessary, remove them from his coaching staff.

-- Former Miami-Fla. spiritual leader and 2 Live Crew rapper Luther Campbell moves to Corvallis, Ore., dons and black and orange gear and pens explicit lyrics about Oregon State's mascot. This prompts the Lamb of God to open the Seventh Seal.

-- Still looking to cut corners to balance the athletic department's budget, NU Athletic Director Bill Byrne unveils the university's new, economically acceptable fight song: "There Is No Place."

-- On Sept. 15, Tennessee placekicker Alex Walls boots a last-second field goal to help the Volunteers upset Florida, 23-21. After the game, Steve Spurrier hastily announces he is quitting coaching to start a dry-cleaning business, primarily using the steam coming up from his collar.

-- In the third quarter of Iowa State's 23-19 win over Baylor in Ames, a section of Jack Trice Stadium's east stands suddenly collapses and falls onto the field, maiming seven members of the Cyclone defense. "Boy, we really overcame a lot of adversity today," ISU linebacker Matt Word says.

-- During a lull in the action of his team's Oct. 6 showdown vs. Texas in Dallas, Bob Stoops holds a press conference near the Grassy Knoll in Dealy Plaza to announce that he has, indeed, found the Magic Bullet.

-- The powers-that-be again futz around with the Bowl Championship Series formula, this time awarding the top two spots to the teams that can come up with the best "Yo Momma" insults.

-- As it becomes clear that no Pac-10 teams will qualify for the Rose Bowl, elitist blueblood fans up and down the West Coast angril boycott their AT&T cellular telephones. Traffic crashes west of the Rockies instantly cease.

-- Taking advantage of college football's new Friday night scheduling option, Mountain West Conference members get Loma Linda (Calif.) University, a Seventh-Day Adventist school, to play each of them in non-conference games. The MWC teams post a respectable 3-5 record, despite the fact that Loma Linda does not have an athletic department.

-- On Oct. 6, Buffalo U. beats Miami-Ohio and takes over the drivers' seat in the AFC East.

-- In an exclusive report, a Husker Web site reveals that everyone should "continue to click their 'refresh' buttons for the next eight or nine hours or so while waiting for an important update."

-- Seizing a chance to markedly improve conference strength, Big 12 athletic directors replace Baylor with Omaha Creighton Prep.

-- In a contest sponsored by a Seattle PetsMart franchise, a 17-foot Boa Constrictor named Gunther is declared the biggest snake in the Pacific Northwest. Followed closely by Rick Neuheisel.

-- Despite having Terry Allen as their head coach, Kansas outlasts sad-sack Missouri in Lawrence. "Boy, we really overcame a lot of adversity today," KU cornerback Quincy Roe says.

-- Midway through the season, Penn State running back Eric McCoo announces that he is leaving to play baseball for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Joe Paterno, clearly stunned, demands to know exactly when the Dodgers left Brooklyn.

-- On Oct. 25, wunderkind K-State quarterback Ell Roberson reveals he is actually the lovechild of former Syracuse signal-caller Don McPherson, and that he is changing his name to Ell McPherson.

-- In an exclusive report, a Nebraska Web site reveals that DeJaJuanJason Robertson, a third-grader at Joslyn Elementary School in west Omaha, has orally committed to the Cornhuskers.

-- While drawing up a series of complex defensive alignments in preparation for his team's showdown with unbeaten, top-ranked Nebraska, Bob Stoops discovers the Square Root of Infinity.

-- Miami Coach Larry Coker lures Michigan State's quarterback, Jeff Smoker, from East Lansing to Coral Gables. Next he goes after Smoker's teammates, Joker and Midnight Toker.

-- In his worst case of clock management yet, Frank Solich mistakenly sends the Huskers to the showers at the end of the third quarter against Colorado with NU up 28-7. The Bluffs come roaring back, but their rally falls short when a last-second field goal attempt sails wide. "Damn, we almost overcame a lot of adversity today," CU linebacker Jayshon Sykes says.

-- Vanderbilt wins the Southeastern Conference, mainly because they're the only ones who aren't on probation by season's end.

--Nebraska is victorious in the Big XII title game by default on Dec. 1 after South Division champ Texas fails to show. It is later learned that Jenna Bush was driving the Longhorn team bus.

-- After an inexcusable one-year absence, Hypesman voters return the coveted trophy to the Big Ten. Probably to some guy from Michigan again.

-- In his spare time while preparing for the Sooners' Fiesta Bowl matchup with UCLA, Bob Stoops devises a cure for cancer.

--On Jan. 1, pouty Pac-10 and Big Ten bluebloods put on the Morose Bowl, which pits Big Ten champ Northwestern (8-3) against Pac-10 champ Stanford (7-4). Intrigued, NBC picks up the broadcast. The game gets kicked in the ratings by every other bowl, not to mention an episode of "The Iron Chef" on the Food Network and a rerun of "BattleBots" on Comedy Central.

-- To stave off NCAA sanctions, the last six Division 1-A schools that don't have coaches named either Bowden or Stoops on staff hire accordingly.

-- Despite whiny protests, the Rose Bowl is played as scheduled. Nebraska, like they always do in odd-numbered years, whomps Tennessee and becomes the first major college football team to go 14-0. But Frank Solich accidentally drops and breaks the Sears Trophy when, during the awards ceremony, the power in California goes out again.

-- Later, when Eric Crouch is asked to sum up the Cornhuskers' unlikely drive to the national title, the eloquent Nebraska quarterback shrugs, then says, "Boy, we sure did overcome a lot of adversity this year."

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