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Nebraska 38, McNeese State 14

Frankly, I have to agree with resident HBO mafioso Tony Soprano when he says the strong, silent type has become a thing of the past. You certainly could've found lots of incriminating evidence to support his claim this week in the Husker Nation, anyways. In the days leading up to Saturday's war with McNeese State's gang, an angry red-clad mob went to the mattresses with their own team, shaking up the family at the South Stadium offices and nearly forcing them all to go on the lam. It's true, this team has been the target of a lot of hits (both on and off the field) lately. But with Saturday's runaway win, the Huskers -- led by their record-setting quarterback -- showed that they're still a bunch of goodfellas. Bada-boom, bada-bing.

A few takes:

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT: One of the frequent knocks on Frankie is that he overlooks young talent in lieu of favoring older guys who have been in the system a while -- y'know, guys who have paid their dues. Usually, that argument has less makeup than a Lilth Fair organizer's meeting, but let's face it. With a few exceptions this year, a good man on the starting lineup has been harder to find than Bruce Willis' cowlick. Nothing like a two-game losing streak and a Division I-AA opponent to prompt a redshirt-burning party, eh? The lil nippers didn't disappoint, either, from David "Miso" Horne's extra burst to the corner to Mark LeFlore doing his best Irving Fryar imitation to Josh "Never Mind the" Bullocks racking up the tackles. Until Saturday, the silver lining in this Titanic-length season had been that the Huskers were young, and that the future was still bright. In case anyone missed it Saturday, the future is now.

LORD'S DAY: What a difference a week makes. On Monday, Jammal Lord was about as popular in the Husker camp as Chris Rock at a Ku Klux Klan rally. By Wednesday, rumors were that Mike "The Play" Stuntz was in control. And it wasn't until Friday night that J. Lo learned he was the man. Geez, and I thought I had a crazy week because I had to get those TPS reports done before leaving work Friday afternoon. Before Jammal's breakout day, he was being mentioned in the same breath as ham-n-egger QBs like Keithen McCant and Mike Grant. Now, oddly enough, he's in company with Tommie Frazier and Eric Crouch, whose records he busted Saturday. I know what you're thinking -- it would have been nice to see this monster game emerge against PSU or ISU. But hey, better great than never.

DAMNED IF YOU DO: And damned if you don't. That's the situation NU was in by scheduling McNeese this weekend. 'Course, by playing their share of crumb-bums each year, the Huskers are no strangers to the Catch-22 that comes with such scheduling practices. That is, if you beat the holy bejeezus out of your patsy, then you're merely whaling on a team that has no business being on the same field with you, so whoop-ti-doo. But if the opponent gives you a fairly decent game, then brace yourselves -- your manhood will be challenged from Scottsbluff to Falls City, not to mention up and down the TV dial. Look, Husker fans have always shown a good deal of skepticism about their team, and in many cases, that's OK. Think of your head as Sidetrack Tavern, and skepticism is that streetwise bouncer who keeps Tony Davis from coming in and running up more drinks on his bar tab. But in this instance, Loons, it's OK to do your best Craig Bohl impression and let your defenses down. Rest on your laurels and allow yourself to enjoy this, OK? Hey, no one's suggesting the goal posts get torn down after beating McNeese State. But for Devaney's sake, the Huskers ran for 444 yards. Once upon a time that alone was enough to placate even the most grizzled Husker fan.

THE BRAVE AND THE BOULDER: For that vindictive strain of Loon who is into shadenfreude -- that is, the malicious enjoyment of another's misfortune -- Saturday's Kansas State-Colorado game must have provided more conflicts of interest than Tom Cruise presenting Nicole Kidman a Best Actress Oscar. True, for most Husker fans, the events in Boulder may as well have been a celebrity death match featuring Osama bin Laden vs. Saddam Hussein; all you could really hope for was lots of injuries on the field and a big, ugly riot in the stands, preferrably with broken beer bottles. No one will be rushing to call the Bluffs' 35-31 victory The Game of the Century anytime soon, but K-State's epic crash-and-burn does mean that suddenly the Big 12 North is wide open. Wishful thinking? Hey, in a year when Florida is already 4-2 and Florida State has lost to an unranked MAC school, anything is possible, pally.

THE BOTTOM LINE: It would be safe to say that since the meltdown in Happy Valley and the smackdown in Ames, much of the Husker Nation has been suffering through a lengthy hangover. Our heads have hurt, our mouths have been dry, our stomachs have ached. That's why Saturday's breeze over McNeese was like a gallon of Alka-Seltzer, a pint of coffee and a bushel of Advil all rolled up into one. And already, we're making plans to go out with our buddies and start partying again. But are we ready to? Some have said this version of the Huskers is weaker than a mixed drink in a strip club, but that's an all-too-familiar wine ... er, whine. No, the Big Red experience this year is still intoxicating, but in a much different way -- we're not talking about how much Nebraska will win by, but instead whether they will win at all. And knowing this makes each victory go down much smoother. Incidentally, the Cornhuskers' next party guests are Brad Smith and his Missouri Tigers, who nearly drank Oklahoma under the table this weekend before falling. This one looks to be tough, in the tradition of all those great NU-MU shindigs of days gone by. There are four things that give Nebraska big advantage next weekend, however: (1) The game is in Lincoln. (2) Jammal Lord has his confidence back. (3) The game is in Lincoln. And (4) The game is in Lincoln. So break out your party hats, Loons, and get ready to paint the town red. Nebraska 31, Missouri 21.

Baud to the Bone.
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