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R E D    C L A D    L O O N

LOON DROPPINGS, Vol. 6:
Nebraska 56, Texas Tech 3
10/14/00

You know, being the No. 1 team in all the land is kind of like running for president. To get as many votes as possible, you've got to put on a big show every time you're on TV. You've also got to be ruthlessly efficient, keep fumbles to a minimum, always keep the polls in mind and remember that style points count. Texas Tech was looking to hang an "L" on the Huskers on Saturday, but NU didn't leave any room for debate -- they stormed into the home state of this year's GOP candidate and brought home something that is very near and dear to Texans' hearts. A Dubya.

A few takes:

DEFENDING THE PROGRAM: In a fairly predictable motivational ploy, the Techsters switched to a Viet Cong-like, all-black motif Saturday evening. But their fancy duds were overshadowed by a monstrous performance of the REAL Blackshirts. After hearing it from grumblers from Scottsbluff to Lincoln over the last few weeks, NU's defenders took out their frustrations against the Red Raiders ... in spades. Against an inspired, angry, immovable Husker D, Tech's high-octane "Air Raid" offense was undone faster than Shaft's fly at a Hawaiian Tropic convention. It's taken six games to say it, but Hail To The Blackshirts: They administered more crucial hits Saturday than an entire season of "The Sopranos," and set up the powerful Cornhusker offense time after time with favorable field position. This massacre is a prime example of how lethal the Cornhuskers can be when the defense shows up on third down. Game ball to the Blackshirts.

INTENTIONAL GROUNDING: It was certainly no secret that Nebraska was going to run straight at the swift but undersized Tech D, so the Raiders put nine in the box and hoped to plug up every gap they could. Looked good on paper, that's for sure -- but in reality, the strategy was like throwing a swarm of mosquitos at an oncoming Sherman tank. The Texas Tech defensive line was under more strain than Roseanne's pants as Nebraska flexed its offensive might. Even more heart-warming was that, with the game safely in hand in the third quarter, Eric Crouch was spotted on the team bus catching up on his beauty sleep, therefore allowing No. 10, Jammal Lord, a chance to put down his clipboard for a while. What top-rated Red Raider defense?

ALL ALONG THE WATCHORN: Early in the first quarter, it appeared that this game's tune was going to play an all-too-familiar melody. After NU had been held to a three-and-out on its first possession, Kliff Kingsbury had his team moving to what was likely going to be a 7-0 lead for the Red Raiders. Enter Nebraska's designated pigskin thief and enemy momentum-killer, newly-annointed Blackshirt Troy Watchorn of Columbus, Neb. Because of some guy named Mike Brown, Watchorn has been a well-kept secret for most of his career, but this season the native son has had more great picks than a hungry third-grader. He also seems to have that Jon Vedral-like knack of being around the ball on big plays. What a nice Columbus Day gift to Husker fans.

FLAG FOOTBALL: To keep the quality of Big XII referees high, the conference compensates them well. They give 'em $10, a packet of Red Man chew and a six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon in return for officiating a game. But after Saturday's contest, conference leaders may need to shell out health benefits for the zebras, too. Lord knows those refs will need treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome from throwing all those yellow hankies around the field. Tech was caught cheating more often than the resident Commander-In-Chief, making their already-uphill climb against NU seem like trying to scale Mount Everest barehanded with Marlon Brando hanging on their pantleg. And you thought you saw a lot of flags during the closing ceremonies over in Sydney.

CAT-ASTROPHE: For a while there Saturday, I was having major flashbacks, what with Barry Switzer on the Oklahoma sidelines, references by ABC to Hayden Fry, "Boomer Sooner" filling the air and the Spooners putting a Big 8-style whoopin' on bumbling Kansas State. In a battle of coaching staffs more cross-pollinated than an Appalachian family reunion, the Sooners made their point -- 41 of them, in fact -- in bringing back their glory days of the 1980s. Back in that uzi-toting era, a couple of outlaw players wound up getting ten to twenty in the pokey. Paying homage to that proud past, the Sooners were led by No. 10 and No. 20, linebackers Torrance Marshall and Rocky Calmus, in handing the No. 2 Wildcats their first loss. They were helped by Jonathan Beasley, who performed like ... well, like Jonathan Beasley, and a bunch of 'Cat receivers who acted like they were scared to get hit. Expect the 'Cats to tumble hard: The pollsters have been looking for a reason to punish them for their Stay-Puft schedule, and this is the perfect opportunity. Meanwhile, with back-to-back wins over Top 10 teams, the Okies now have two weeks to practice against the option in anticipation of Nebraska's big visit. OU has that unmistakable synergy that ASU had in '96 and UCLA had in '98, and it all adds up to a Holy War in Norman on Oct. 28.

WALK THIS WAY: I've never been a big fan of "Sirius," the McSong that plays when the boys in red do their tunnel walk, mainly because UNL's unoriginal marketing folks simply stole the song from the Chicago Bulls and the San Antonio Spurs' entrance ceremonies. But after Saturday, I'm thoroughly convinced that NU needs to ditch the song and get a new one. This is because I realized that Kansas State also uses "Sirius" as their entrance music, as does Texas Tech. We can't be associated with such fading programs. In honor of NU's ground-bound grain-thresher offense, I respectfully submit Led Zeppelin's "Trampled Under Foot" as a suitable replacement.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Saturday night produced everything a Husker fan could want. A smashmouth offensive show, an immovable, turnover-causing defensive performance, backups in the game early, and FOX pronouncing 80 percent of the Cornhuskers' names right. So what are we Loons going to worry about all week? Well, there's always global warming, I guess. Or the unrest in the Middle East. Or the stock market. But those things are really unpredictable. Let's talk about something we know will happen for sure. And that's the fact that the next opponent on Nebraska's schedule, the lowly Baylor Bears, will get clubbed like a baby seal next weekend in Lincoln. Though it's not officially homecoming, two former Huskers -- Kevin Steele and Tommie Frazier -- will find themselves back in the House that Devaney Built. As cogs in the 1990s National Championship machine, Frazier and Steele undoubtedly get a warm welcome from a Memorial Stadium crowd that remembers their days in red. But by the time the clock hits goose-eggs, the Bears will be green with envy. Nebraska 49, Baylor 10.

==STEVE==
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