R E D    C L A D    L O O N

Nebraska 56, Kansas 17

After a Friday night filled with painting the town red, I resolved to sleep in for a while on Saturday morning. And as luck would have it, I crawled out of my nest just in time to see the kickoff of the highly anticipated (cough) Nebraska-Kansas contest. It only took a few minutes for me to get hungry, though, so I whipped up a late breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon. But it was Nebraska's offense that served up the pancakes.

A few takes:

THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME: Knowing that his team upset The Artists Formerly Known as Colorado earlier this year and also gave the Okies a tough tussle, Kansas Coach Terry Allen came into Lincoln with sights on upending the Cornhuskers. KU's confidence was bolstered, too, by the fact that they waged a Holy War against NU in Lawrence last season. Then the Jayhawks actually stepped onto the Killing Field, and the rest was bone-crushing history. Inspired by quarterback Dylen Smith, whose first name is seriously pronounced like the action one's finger makes when placing a telephone call, the 'Hawks simply phoned this one in. And oddly enough, not a single person around the country died of surprise after the final score appeared on the various sports tickers.

BORN TO RUN: A week after getting stymied in the trenches, a prideful Pipeline restored order in the Cornhusker Universe ... with authority. On Saturday, Nebraska ran at will. And at Bob. And Roy, and Rupert and anyone else who dared get in their way. The Cornhuskers made a point -- 56 of 'em, actually -- that the Big Red Machine might have sputtered a bit a week ago, but there's nothing under that hood that couldn't be tuned. Yeah, sure, it was vs. Kansas. But on Saturday the Cornhuskers were a giant, scarlet-colored 18-wheeler steaming downhill at full throttle, with No. 7 coolly at the controls. By the time this one was over, the only unanswered question that could come to mind was, "Just how many caucasian I-backs DOES Nebraska have on the depth chart?" I'll be up-front about it: This week's game ball, fittingly, goes to Nebraska's manly offensive line.

MAD HITTERS: In trying to get some of its storied basketball program's good karma to bleed over to the football field, KU started a kid in its defensive secondary by the last name of Nesmith. But unfortunately for the hapless 'Hawks, the senior DB couldn't invent a way to slow down the Husker attack. No such problem existed on the other sideline, however, as the Blackshirts retooled, rejuvenated and eventually redeemed themselves. In fact, only Amazon.com rang up more hits Saturday than NU's chip-on-our-shoulders defense. Carlos Polk was everywhere, leading an angry charge that made KU look more awkward than Bob Griese fawning over how cute Eric Crouch was in that J. Crew turtleneck sweater.

HURRY, CANES: The oft-quoted coaching adage is that "Defense Wins Championships." The Miami Hurricanes, however, are making a bid to change that mantra to "Timing Don't Hurt, Either." The 'Canes, voted off the island after being humbled by Washington in September, are back like bad breath. They also likely have the inside track to the Orange Bowl after just barely squeaking past Virginia Tech by 20 measly points. Credit UM's schedule with an assist in their run to the title game -- Saturday's win marks the second big game this season in which the 'Canes have faced an opponent whose QB was as boogered-up as a baby's nose. Playing with a bum ankle, old You-Know-Who tried to bring his Hokies back, but it turned out that SuperVick was about as relevant as a Pat Buchanan campaign speech in downtown Berkeley. Blech ... I felt downright icky having to cheer for the Hurricanes, who now may jump the Huskers in the all-important BCS rankings. If so, maybe that's a good thing -- at least we all can get back to despising Miami like we're supposed to.

THE BOTTOM LINE: It was nice to see Nebraska resurrect its "A" game, wasn't it? But actually, my Ubiquitous Clandestine Informant tells me that it was merely the result of a clever ruse by Coach Solich. To snap NU out of their post-Oklahoma blahs, Frankie had the word "State" inserted behind the name of Nov. 4's opponent on the schedule placard inside the Big Red's locker room. Convinced they were going to face Wildcats instead of Jayhawks on Saturday, the Cornhuskers naturally played at the top of their game. Turns out KU was nothing but a warmup for the showdown against KSU on Nov. 11, the Huskers' first visit to Manhattan since the famous facemask incident of '98. Yep, after outscoring Nebraska two years ago, Manhattan College was truly the toast of college football. But next week, they're truly toast. Nebraska 31, Kansas State 21.

E. Pluribus Loonum. Bring the White House to THE POND,
Home of Nebraska's RED CLAD LOON.